New Gear: Sony DSC-TX5 Rugged Compact

The rugged compact game isn't the most familiar territory for Sony, but the TX5 seems like it could be a worthy contender when it hits the streets in April. The press material claims that the TX5 is "about the size of a deck of cards," calling it the "world's thinnest and smallest certified waterproof digital still camera with Optical SteadyShot image stablization and touch operation." Yes, that is a lot of qualifiers, but there is a lot of good going on behind all of that marketing speak. The 10.2-megapixel sensor is the first iteration of Sony's new Exmor R CMOS, which is resistant to dust, low temps and the shock from a 5-foot drop.

The TX5 is waterproof up to 10-feet--a pretty standard depth for rugged compacts. It retains full-functionality to that depth, including 720p (30 fps) video caputre. The Exmore R sensor can grab 10 fps in burst shooting mode and is said to offer excellent low-light performance. On the back of the camera is a 3-inch LCD touchscreen display with 230,400 pixels and a total lack of buttons.

The $349 price tag also gets you Sony's built-in HDR mode that automatically combines bracketed images and Sony's Sweep Panorama mode which can slam together up to 100 images into one ultra-wide capture. Neither feature requires a tripod, which is good, because that kind of defeats the purpose of an ultra-slim camera. More pictures after the jump.

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