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DCRP Review: Sony
by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: June 4, 2007
Last Updated: January 12, 2008
I have to admit that I've been a bit jaded when it comes to Sony's Cyber-shot T-series of cameras. Each iteration was basically the same thing: higher resolution, maybe a larger LCD, and maybe a choice of body colors. So, when word came of the Cyber-shot DSC-T100 ($400), I thought "oh good, another one".
Thankfully, didn't just slap a new name on last year's model with the T100 -- it has a new, more powerful 5X zoom lens, a new image processor, a revamped user interface, and support for component video output. That's on top of the usual T-series goodies, which include optical image stabilization, point-and-shoot operation, a large LCD display (3" in this case), and a VGA movie mode. And yes, this slim camera comes in a multitude of colors.
How does this latest T-series model perform? Find out now in our review!
Since the cameras have much in common, I'll be reusing portions of the DSC-W80 review here.
What's in the Box?
The DSC-T100 has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
Like all of Sony's 2007 cameras, the Cyber-shot DSC-T100 has built-in memory instead of having a memory card included in the box -- 31MB worth to be exact. That holds just ten photos at the highest quality setting, so you'll want to buy a memory card right away. The T100 uses Sony's Memory Stick Pro Duo cards, which currently top out at 8GB, and I'd recommend picking up a 1GB card along with the camera. An adapter is included with all MS Duo cards so they work in standard Memory Stick slots.
The DSC-T100 uses the same NP-BG1 lithium-ion battery as several of Sony's other cameras. This is the only Sony digital camera battery that I know of that isn't an "InfoLithium", which means that it won't tell you how many minutes you have left before the battery dies. The NP-BG1 has 3.6 Wh of energy, which isn't much, but somehow Sony manages to squeeze good numbers out of it. Here are the battery life numbers for the DSC-T100 and the competition:
As you can see, the DSC-T100's battery life is well above average for this class. I don't know how Sony does, but they sure can draw a lot of power out of a pretty anemic battery.
I do have to mention my usual complaints about proprietary batteries, though. They're more expensive than rechargeable AAs (the BG1's prices start at $27), and you can't use "regular batteries" to get you through the day in an emergency. Unfortunately, these batteries sort of come with the territory: if you want a small camera, you have to deal with them.
When you're ready to charge the T100's battery, just pop it into the included charger. And then go for a day trip or something like that -- the battery will be charged when you get back. It takes a whopping 4.5 hours to charge the battery, which seems ridiculous to me. Naturally, Sony sells a faster charger (which takes just 1.5 hours), but that'll set you back more than $50.
The T100 carries over the large, flip-down lens cover from prior models. If you've been reading this site for a long time then you'll know that I hate this thing. It's way too easy to accidentally turn the camera on or off, especially when you're stuffing it in your pocket.
There are quite a few accessories available for the DSC-T100, and I've compiled them into this handy list for you:
Not too shabby for a little camera, eh?
One of the T100's unique features is to output HD quality video to your HDTV. You'll need to buy some accessories to do it, though. The cheap option (and I use this term loosely) is to buy the component video cable, which plugs into the bottom of the camera.
Front of the dock
And the back
Another option is to buy the $79 Cyber-shot Station for TV, shown above. Just pop the camera into the dock and you can then charge its battery or connect to an television. Do note that you cannot use the dock to connect to a computer! A remote control is also included, so you can sit back and view slideshows from the comfort of your couch.
[Paragraph updated 6/5/07]
Contrary to all the labels on the box the T100 came in, the camera doesn't output video at "Full HD 1080" (1080p). Instead, it outputs video at 1080i, though most people won't be able to tell the difference. If you're just viewing one photo at a time, they will not fill the screen, unless you took them in the 16:9 mode. The only way to see them full screen is to use the slideshow feature, and then everything looks really nice. For some bizarre reason, movies cannot be played back at all when using the HD cables.
Picture Motion Browser for Windows
Sony includes version 2.0 of their Picture Motion Browser software with the DSC-T100. This software is Windows only, so Mac users will want to use iPhoto or Image Capture to get photos off of the camera.
The software offers the usual thumbnail view of your photos (shown earlier), plus the calendar view you can see above. From either screen you can select photos for printing, e-mailing, and slideshows. You can also burn them to a CD or DVD.
Double-clicking on any thumbnail brings you to the edit screen. This adds some basic photo editing tools such as redeye reduction, brightness/contrast/saturation adjustment, and trimming. You can also put the date on your photo -- something which the camera itself does not do.
Music Transfer in Mac OS X
Also included is Music Transfer for Mac OS and Windows. You'll use this to customize the slideshow background music on the camera. The camera can hold four separate audio tracks, limited to 3 minutes in length.
Selecting tracks on an audio CD
In theory, you select unprotected MP3s or tracks on an audio CD, and the software will convert it into whatever format the camera uses. In reality, I was unable to get the software to see any of my MP3 files, but it worked fine with CD audio.
Sony's camera documentation has taken a major step backward this year. In the old days you got a full, printed manual in the box with camera. Not anymore. Now you get a printed manual covering the basics, but for more advanced operations you'll have to open up the "Cyber-shot Handbook" on the included CD-ROM. The quality of the manuals themselves is fine, but having to open a PDF to read it is not cool.
Look and Feel
The DSC-T100 looks a whole lot like the other recent models in the Cyber-shot T-series. It's ultra-compact, made mostly of metal (brushed metal in the front), and has the annoying sliding lens cover that I complained about earlier. The camera is pretty well put together for the most part, save for the plastic cover over the memory card and battery compartment.
In terms of ergonomics, the T100 is just okay. The controls on the right side of the LCD are small and cramped, and since there's not much room for your thumb, you'll frequently end up leaving fingerprints on the display.
Image courtesy of Sony Electronics
Like the other models in the T-series, Sony offers the T100 in three colors: black, red, and silver. The red is quite eye-catching, I must say.
Okay, now let's see how the stylish and compact T100 compares to other cameras in its class: