bfitzgerald wrote:Sony's cybershot range is very consumer based, but unlike some other manufacturers (Panasonic, Ricoh etc), they have no offerings in the higher end compact sector. With more advanced features, higher spec, raw etc etc.
Should sony produce such a type of camera, and would it appeal to Alpha users?
You forgot the H series, the DSC-H20 is a nice camera and the new DSC-HX1 is even better, using a G lens (Minolta time's designed?) From your list of requirement, these cameras only lacks RAW.
Quoting Sony literature, this camera is targeted to:
DIGITAL SLR USERS
Some DSLR users are looking for a lightweight, point and shoot camera alternative. They also want features that will perform like their DSLR camera. The DSC-HX1 is that camera. The professional quality Sony G Lens provides beautiful image quality that captures accurate colors and stunning, sharp images. Zoom? The DSC-HX1 has ZOOM – 20x Optical Zoom! No need to bring an extra lens to get close. Does your customer want to shoot in Manual mode? That’s covered too!
During my trip to Peru last Easter I did watch what kind of cameras tourist brought with them: dSRL were mostly CaNikon -I only bump on one group of Minolta/Sony users with 7Ds and A700s. But on the high end point a shoot, there were way more Sony H series cameras than Canon 9/10Gs and I don't recall any Nikon P series.
This is why I think your appreciation about how ugly the new A230/330/380 are is wrong. They are H-Series like, even in the simplification of the menus, and are targeted to their (very large) point and shoot consumer's base.