Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W290 Review
Originally Posted: July 23, 2009
Last Updated: November 9, 2009
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W290 ($250) is an ultra-compact camera featuring a 12 Megapixel CCD, 5X wide-angle zoom lens, image stabilization, a 3-inch LCD, HD movie recording, and more. It has two siblings -- the DSC-W220 and W230 -- and the chart below illustrates what differentiates these models:
The DSC-W290 finds itself among some pretty tough competition -- there are some great ultra-compact cameras out there. How does it compare? Find out now in our review!
What's in the Box?
The Cyber-shot DSC-W290 has a rather uninspiring bundle. Inside its box, you'll find:
- The 12.1 effective Megapixel Cyber-shot DSC-W290 camera
- NP-BG1 rechargeable lithium-ion battery
- Battery charger
- Wrist strap
- USB + A/V cable
- CD-ROM featuring Picture Motion Browser software, Cyber-shot handbook and Step-up Guide
- 58 page basic manual (printed) plus 145 page full manual (on CD-ROM)
Like all of Sony's recent cameras, the Cyber-shot DSC-W290 has built-in memory instead of having a memory card included in the box. The W290 has a paltry 11MB of onboard memory, which holds just two photos at the highest quality setting. Thus, you'll want to get a memory card, and fast. The DSC-W290 supports Memory Stick Duo cards (groan), and I'd recommend starting out with a 2GB card at the very least.
The W290 uses the familiar NP-BG1 lithium-ion battery for power. This battery has 3.4 Wh of energy, which is about average for a camera in this class. The W290 also supports the NP-FG1 battery, which has the same amount of juice, but adds InfoLithium technology, which allows the camera to provide a minute-by-minute countdown of battery life. Here's what kind of battery life you can expect from the DSC-W290:
While it doesn't post best-in-class numbers, the DSC-290 is still a good 20% above the group average.
I should point out a few things about the proprietary lithium-ion battery used by the W290 and every other camera in the table above. Proprietary batteries tend to be more expensive than their AA counterparts, with a spare NP-FG1 costing at least $27. In addition, should that battery run out of juice, you can pick up an off-the-shelf battery to get you through the day.
When you're ready to charge the W290's battery, just pop it into the included charger. And then you might want to find something else to do for the next five hours or so, as that's how long it can take to charge the battery. If you want a faster charger, Sony would be happy to sell you one.
And on that note, here's the list of accessories available for the DSC-W290:
I threw the conversion lenses and their adapter in there, but you're going to have a heck of a time finding them, at least in the USA. The camera clearly supports them, but Sony USA doesn't even acknowledge their existence. I should add that Sony makes about a million different cases for the W290, in all colors.
Sony includes version 4 of their Picture Motion Browser software with the DSC-W290. This software remains Windows-only, so Mac users will have to use something else (iPhoto works just fine). The first part of the software you'll probably encounter is PMB Launcher, which is the gateway to all of PMB's functions. Here you can import photos, upload them to popular photo/video sharing sites, burn a CD or DVD, or just jump right into the photo browser.
Picture Motion Browser 4
Speaking of which, above you can see the actual Picture Motion Browser software. On the main screen you'll find the usual thumbnail view, and you can view photos in a calendar format, as well. You can sort photos by date, whether they contain people, smiles, or scenery, by label, and more. From here you can also e-mail, print, or upload your photos to sharing sites; a slideshow option is also available.
Editing in Picture Motion Browser
Double-clicking on any thumbnail brings you to the edit screen. The tools here include auto correction, brightness/contrast/saturation adjustment, redeye removal, and trimming (cropping). You can even adjust the tone curve, with wasn't available on earlier versions of PMB. If you want to print the date on your photos, you can do that as well.
The final piece of software included with the W290 is Music Transfer. This allows you to copy MP3s or CD audio to the camera to use as background music for slideshows. Don't expect great audio quality, though.