Although one of the lightest and slimmest compact cameras on the market, the 8Mp GE G2 feels reassuringly solid in the palm.
General Electric - or 'GE' - has customer awareness Stateside, but here in the UK (and indeed Europe) it's untried and untested. Looking to change that is the 8Mp, 4x optical zoom G2, one of a raft of digital cameras to bear the name and be marketed by the newly formed General Imaging. So, compared to the Canons, Nikons, Olympus and Sonys of this world, is the GE G2 fit for purpose?
At the London launch, the company's Japanese MD was tight-lipped about the origins of its design and technology, but there are shades of Nikon's Coolpix compact range in the GE G2's flat, no nonsense faceplate, with internally stacked zoom mechanism meaning that at no point does the lens actually stand proud of the camera.
At the back GE G2 the plastic controls recall Olympus' Mju Tough, while the logical L-shaped layout of its function toolbar recalls Canon's IXUS compacts. However there's nothing Frankenstein-like about the GE G2's overall appearance, its matte black finish and mirrored metal detailing lending it a sophisticated air you don't expect from a £99 snapshot.
Although one of the lightest and slimmest (at a width of just 18mm) on the market, the GE G2 feels reassuringly solid in the palm.
With a press of the recessed power button atop the GE G2 the automatic lens cover opens with an audible 'zip', the LCD that dominates the rear blinking into life a second and a half later, which again isn't bad.
In the absence of an optical viewfinder, pictures are composed and reviewed via the GE G2's 2.7in screen. Although visibility is fine indoors, it does suffer in sunlight. Images are stored either on the small 26MB internal memory, or preferably on to an optional SD card, for which there is a slot alongside the rechargeable battery compartment on its base.
The GE G2 is pretty easy to use: there are both full auto and manual modes, the latter adding the ability to adjust white balance, light sensitivity and colour mode - for which there are B&W, sepia or vivid options available - alongside image quality and file size.
Specific portrait and panoramic stitching modes are also provided, along with a maximum 640x480 pixel video capture at a framerate of 30 frames per second (fps), plus the usual smattering of pre-optimised scene modes.
At a penny shy of £100, the GE G2 can't be faulted for value for money, but at the end of the day its reputation rests on the images it delivers. With plenty of light available, results are pleasingly rich in colour, even if highlight detail suffers. We also had evidence of occasional camera shake, resulting in an overall softness to images, while you'll need to watch fingertips straying into shot due to the positioning of the lens. Still, good results are achievable if you're prepared to compensate for the above, and the build quality certainly puts to shame some compacts twice the asking price.