If you've finally decided to jump on the digital camera bandwagon, the GE A835 isn't a bad choice, but for just a little more money you could get a camera that delivers better image quality.

The GE A835 is an 8Mp camera with a 3x optical zoom lens. While a camera salesperson might tell you that more megapixels means better images, that's not really true. With 8Mp, you can make larger prints (easily up to 13 by 19 inches) without losing image resolution. It also leaves room to crop your images so your subjects are better framed at typical snapshot sizes (4 by 6 and 5 by 7).

The GE A835's simple, basic design is small and boxy. The lens extends when you turn on the camera. The camera lacks any sort of grip or molding, which can make holding it a little difficult, especially if you have large hands. A small textured patch on the rear of the camera gives you a place to put your thumb, but it's very easy to bump some of the control buttons accidentally.

There's no optical viewfinder, so you have to use the GE A835's 2.5in LCD screen on the back to frame your shot. Unfortunately, the LCD is fairly dark and hard to see in bright daylight, and it also shows vertical streaks under bright light that can be problematic when you frame a shot.

The back of the GE A835 also sports simple controls, including zoom buttons and a four-way rocker switch. A mode dial sits atop the camera, surrounding the shutter button. The camera boots up quickly, and is ready to shoot as soon as the lens has fully extended, which only takes a second or two.

The GE A835 supports a surprisingly full feature set. In addition to the fully automatic modes, it has modes that afford a little more user control, as well as a full set of scene modes for specific shooting situations and exposure compensation, useful to photographers who know a little more about how to manage exposure.

Like most cameras in this market, the GE hypes the GE A835's smile-detection feature, which is supposed to only fire a shot when your subject is smiling. As is often the case, this feature doesn't really work, though the camera's face detection is good.