Toshiba's new TCM5115CL 20-megapixel image sensor is the highest-resolution ever built for the tiniest point-and-shoot cameras. Uh oh, are the megapixel wars back?

For a while there, the wars over who could cram more pixels onto tiny image sensors seemed to have died off. Indeed, for years, megapixel counts were a showy and misleading spec used by camera manufacturers to entice buyers who don't know any better. But when it comes to the 1/2.3-inch image sensors used in bottom-of-the-line cameras, almost all manufacturers these days have settled on a 16-megapixel, backside-illuminated CMOS sensor. The spec is a nice compromise between resolution and light-capturing efficiency for the cheap point-and-shoot cameras these sensors are used in.

Well next year, Toshiba will roar onto the marketplace with a new 1/2.3-inch image sensor with 25-percent more pixels. Sure, this sensor could be a huge breakthrough in image quality that allows Toshiba to stuff more pixels onto the same space without losing quality.. But what a 1/2.3-inch sensor really needs is better performance out of the pixels it already has. Oh well, we'll reserve judgement until the new sensors ship next August. [Businesswire]