The new Canon Powershot N includes a lot of the features that Canon (and other companies) have been adding to tiny point-and-shoots over the years, like Wi-Fi connectivity and touchscreen controls. What makes it new and refreshing—at least aesthetically—is the new design, which is more square. It's noticeably different, but does that make it better?
Indeed, the Canon PowerShot cameras have been the quintessential point-and-shoots forever -- they've gotten smaller and smaller over the years and piled on the features, but they've still remained essentially rectangles of more or less the same proportion. The PowerShot N is still technically a rectangular cube, but it has been shortened on the long side and made taller and thicker. So, consider that the Powershot N is 3.1 x 2.4 x 1.2 inches whereas the latest and greatest IXUS 530 HS measures 3.4 x 2.1 .78 inches.
As touchscreens have been added to point-and-shoot cameras, the cameras in turn have been losing buttons. Welcome to the smartphone logic to the extreme where there's not a single button on the back of the camera. The touchscreen on the back allows you to control everything, and it flips out 90-degrees. It's a striking look, but don't worry, you're not compromising full controls to the touchscreen -- it's got a couple of rings around the lens for zooming and shutter release, plus a couple of buttons on the side.
Of course because this is the future, the camera has Wi-Fi connectivity so that you can share your photos online more easily. Canon says it has greatly improved the system so that using connected features isn't a pain, to which we respond that we'll believe it when we see it. There's also a new ECO mode that will be added to all Canon PowerShot cameras going forward. It's basically a very strict power save mode that Canon claims will trim 30 per cent of your battery consumption.
As for the guts, there's nothing surprising -- a 12.1-megapixel sensor; an 8x zoom, and the Digic 5 image processor that's been around for over a year. But really, we're dying to know what it's like to use a camera this shape. We'll know for sure when it drops in April for £269. [Canon]