The Nikon S9100 is a perfect half-way house for those looking for a bit more from their compact camera without making the jump to a bulky DSLR.
It combines an excellent 18x optical zoom with a large, crisp and bright LCD. The camera is fast to respond to most commands, and the vast range of different pre-set shooting scenes will enable you to ensure the camera is making the most of whatever you are photographing. It is of average thickness and somewhat unremarkable build, but feels solid and weighty in the hand. It comes with a bespoke lithium battery which holds its charge brilliantly - I used it frequently over a long bank holiday and the charge still showed as full! There is also a wrist strap included, though no case, which is standard but would have been nice at this price.
Now for the weaknesses. My biggest gripe is with the flash. Most digitial cameras have a built in flash which you can turn on or off using the little directional pad. The S9100 features this too, but even if you have the flash turned on you need to MANUALLY pop up the little flash. The camera tells you to do so in big letters, but if you are trying to take a picture in a hurry this is an annoyance, especially as the button to pop it up is quite small and fiddly. I don't understand why there isn't an automatic release for the flash when surely most people will be taking pictures in the dark WITH a flash, not without. The flash can also be quite slow to fire, as it fires off some smaller flashes to avoid red eye before the picture is taken - though I haven't fiddled with it enough yet to find out if you can remedy this using the settings. Luckily the S9100 performs excellently under low-light conditions, meaning these issues are only a problem when in proper darkness.
The zoom can be a little slow and is a bit jerkier than I'd like, making it difficult to frame a picture in the way you'd like sometimes. It's also quite loud on video capture.
Finally, the 'D' pad also doubles as a wheel for scrolling through settings, pictures etc. This is a great feature and is preferable to having to click through, but it is a little loose and too easily turned. It needs to be stiffened up a bit.
Those issues are insignificant when you consider the great quality pictures this camera can produce. I particularly enjoy using the panoramic function, which is excellent and can be used over 180 or 360 degrees (or in any direction you wish to get some really cool effects!). The camera also comes with software to create panoramas from individual photos - I used it to create a panorama from some pictures I took on a different camera and it did it quickly and flawlessly.
In short, a slightly flawed but generally excellent camera.