Behind a protective slide-open-and-shoot lens cover, the Sony DSC-TX10 hides a folded 4x optical zoom, plus back-lit CMOS sensor delivering 16 megapixel stills and Full HD video.
More unexpectedly given its slender 17.9mm depth is the fact that the TX10, like the preceding TX5 (read our review here), is a toughened compact. It’s waterproofed to depths of 16ft (5 metres), dust proof, freeze proof to -10°C plus shock proofed against drops from 1.5 metres in height.
With both 3D Sweep Panorama mode and a new 3D stills option, plus stereo sound and large 3-inch touch panel, the only thing missing is possibly GPS.
Given the Swiss Army Knife-style spec, the TX10 commands something of a price premium, and £300 is high for what, beneath the gimmicks, is purely an auto everything point and shooter. If a reliable one at that.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX10 Controls
You can count the TX10’s physical controls on one hand. Yes, there are five: an elongated shutter release button ad on/off button. Over at the far edge is a tiny joystick for toggling through the zoom range, whilst dedicated playback and video record buttons are located on the back.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX10 Screen
Taking up the entirety of the backplate, the TX10’s LCD screen is three inches in size, widescreen of ratio and boasts an impressive 921,600-dot resolution. Just as well, as Sony has chosen to make the TX10 a (largely) touch screen model and so it’s via finger jabs and swipes that most of the camera’s business is done.
Black bands crop the left and right and sides of the screen when taking still images in regular 4:3 ratio, and are dropped when video recording cuts in, the image expanding to fill the available 16:9 widescreen ratio screen. We’d have preferred some of the operational icons a little larger and visibility still suffers in strong sunlight, but at least each inquisitive prod meets a nigh instant response.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX10 Speed
Slide open the lens cover that makes up the upper half of the TX10’s faceplate, and you can be taking a picture with it as soon as an image appears on the back screen, which is exactly the sort of fuss-free responsiveness any of us want from a point and shoot. The zoom moves through the entirety of its range in two to three seconds, the camera taking only a moment to determine focus and exposure. Shots are committed to Memory Stick or SD card in a further 2-3 seconds, which is par for the course for its class.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX10 Battery
The TX10’s lithium battery is charged within the camera, with a mains adapter, plug and USB lead provided in lieu of a standalone charger. This means that even if you buy a spare battery, the camera will be tied up each time it needs recharging. Battery life is good for 250 pictures from a full charge, which is so-so.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX10 Pictures and video
Still images are bold and vibrant when there’s plenty of sun around, exposures for the most part even, though we did notice a little edge softness when shooting at maximum 25mm wide angle. If camera shake was occasionally a problem – there’s no decent grip here we were impressed with the Sony’s noise free response at the upper echelons of its ISO range.
As well as 16-megapixel stills, the TX10 is capable of recording Full HD video, saved in AVCHD format that, while fine for replaying on the High Def TV, some older PCS and non Intel Macs struggle with. Nevertheless, the zoom can be used when shooting video and its nigh silent operation, when coupled with stereo sound is a real boon, as is the fact that a dedicated record button features.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX10 Verdict
This is a ‘toughened’ model that neither resembles what we’ve come to imagine a camera of that ilk to be, nor handles like one. It’s therefore best viewed as a stylish snapshot that won’t get grumpy if it’s occasionally left out in the rain, rather than a tool for extreme sports enthusiasts to record bone-crunching stunts.
Sony DSC-TX10 price: £240-£320 online
Sony DSC-TX10 launch date: Out now,