This is my first 'serious' digital camera. It took a leap of faith to use this for my photography and leave my Olympus OM4 at home but by and large it is delivering the goods.
Size/weight. Compared to the Canon/Olympus 5MP equivalents the Sony is significantly smaller. This makes it more likely to be stuffed into my rucsac on every trip.
Image quality. The resolution is backed up by good optics, dealing well with difficult high contrast subjects and varied situations. Performance seems consistent across the zoom range. I'd still pick my SLR when quality is paramount but it is getting close. Colour balance is excellent on Auto almost all the time.
Controllability. Lots of functions, many actually useful. Lots of choices of metering/focus/AE modes. Spot meter works especially well. Good screen information without being too fussy. Exposure compensation and bracketing functions simple to use.
Menus largely logical and easy to follow even if they lack the fancy icons of other makes.
Fast. Little shutter delay and quite quick from switch on to ready.
Less good things;
Screen a bit susceptible to glare, nice if it could be tilted as per the Olympus range (but would make it more bulky).
Some of the buttons a bit scattered and poorly labelled.
Shutter release action is very 'clicky'. Not smooth for low shutter speeds and takes getting used to.
Battery life 'adequate'. Screen at least gives fairly accurate indication of time left. Supplied memory stick too small. No case in the box-how tight is that!
Wide angle lacking without adapter. I would like range to go from 28mm.
In conclusion this is a serious camera that delivers punchy images in a very compact and mostly easy-to-use package. The Sony build quality is good and almost all the functions you'll need are available. Left on AUTO all the time it will cover most situations for the snapper but more creative photography is a real option if you want to use it to full potential.