HandlingThe Cyber-shot WX7 is a camera that's easy on the eye. The build quality is good and the colour scheme is simple and stylish—our test model was light grey, dark grey and black. It's a different story when you pick the camera up though: what's with the gutter-style groove that runs around the camera's edge? What's with the plastic on/off switch and buttons that are practically invisible and don't feel nice to touch? What's with the thick click-round wheel that wobbles all over the place? Worse still, you never quite know if you've pressed on one of the four-way arrow buttons accidentally while spinning it round.
In spite of its high-definition screen and wide viewing angles (even if, as usual, it's too highly contrasted and light greys are overexposed), and in spite of its more practical zoom controls, the WX7 isn't really any more pleasant to handle or use than the W570.
ResponsivenessThe Sony Cyber-shot WX7 has a start-up time that's about average for a compact camera, which means you'll have to wait two and a half seconds before taking the first photo. That's not particularly bad, it's just that certain compacts are ready to use in under a second these days.
Once it's up and running, the WX7 has a very bog-standard autofocus but it saves pictures very quickly indeed—barely a second after taking one shot it's ready to take the next. That really is very good and it certainly warrants a four-star score.
Picture QualityLike other Sony compacts with the new 16-Megapixel BSI CMOS sensor, the WX7 takes pictures that have a 'processed' look to them, with block colours that are heavily smoothed to keep noise in check and with details accentuated to keep the pictures looking sharp. For the most common print sizes (8" x 10"), this image processing system gives great results up to 800 ISO.
The WX7 does, however, have one weakness—it has the same lens as the W570. This lens doesn't deliver consistent quality across the frame, and the edges of pictures are clearly less sharp at wide-angle settings. Plus, a general haze descends on shots taken at telephoto settings. The advanced image processing system does do a better job of masking the effects of the low-grade lens than in the W570, but the WX7 still isn't as good as the 12-Megapixel WX5. The extra 4 Megapixels therefore serve no real purpose other than to fill up your memory card more quickly.
VideoThe WX7 films interlaced 1080 HD video in the AVCHD format. In other words, unlike some high-end models with the same sensor, the WX7doesn't film 1080p Full HD. Picture quality is pretty good, but the sound isn't really up to much. Even though the WX7 does record stereo sound with a clearly audible stereo effect, the overall quality isn't very good, with a metallic overtone and poor fidelity.
Another problem is that the noisy zoom lens can clearly be heard in the videos you film!