DSC-S70 provided by TC Computers. Click here to get yours now.

Sony was one of the first major manufacturers to enter the digital camera market. The release of the first Mavica series camera in July of 1998, Sony stumbled into a market that only a few other companies dared to venture in. The release of the Mavica cameras proved to be highly anticipated, with Sony promising to finally deliver a digital camera for the masses. With many competing cameras boasting pixel counts of greater than 1 million, Sony entered the market with a camera that cost less but also performed worse, capturing only at 640x480 with a .3 million pixel count. What Sony lost in image quality, it promised to make up with storage technology. Sony strayed from the compact flash media that many of its competitors were using and choose to use a standard 1.44 MB floppy disk. Attracting buyers with high retail availability as well as unlimited storage capabilities via the inexpensive floppy disks, the Mavica line was off to a good start.

It was not long after the Mavica's release did the camera's low resolution and floppy disk storage methods become more cumbersome than useful. Digital camera resolutions were quickly reaching the points where they are at now, leaving the slowly updating Mavica line left far behind. In addition, the 1.44MB floppy storage method that had attracted so many in the past was quickly becoming a burden. Not only was the access time on the floppy extremely slow, making it painful to even look at the pictures one just took, the size of the floppy quickly became a design flaw. With consumers wanting smaller cameras, many companies were quick to respond, as the space requirements for including a compact flash slot were the least of the manufacturing problems. Sony, on the other hand, was forced to make a camera at least as large as a 1.44MB floppy, limiting it's size to a minimum of 3.5 inches. In addition, the limited storage space on the floppy disks prevented more than one large compressed picture to be captured on a single disk.

Although the CCD capture abilities of the Mavica series cameras increased, the floppy disk storage method remained for the most part, with only one current Mavica opting for 3 inch CD-R disks instead. There was no question that the Mavica line had reached its end recently when it slowly started disappearing from store shelves. With more and more options becoming available, Sony needed a revamp of their product line to make Sony cameras once again the consumer digital camera of choice.

Enter the Cybershot series cameras. A replacement for the aging Mavica series, the Cybershots offer improved storage, image quality and size. The upper end DSC-S70 targets the popular Nikon Coolpix 990, among others in the $700-900 price range. Can Sony regain the ground it lost in the overly long Mavica line? Let's find out.

A lot of the terminology as well as testing methodology in this review has been discussed and explained in our guide entitled: The Digital Future - A Guide to Digital Camera Reviewing. Be sure to read it before continuing with this review.

The Design


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