A rough translation of PC Watch's Japanese report: (my comments in green)

PC Watch announce that finally Nikon have released a production model of the fixed lens Coolpix 700, now at a price point of 60,000 YEN (US$480) a serious competitor to all fixed lens digital cameras.

Orthodox design

The point out that compared to the 950 the 700 is of fairly orthodox compact camera design more like that of the A5 Zoom. However the design of the 700 is much more orthodox than it's main fixed lens competitors the Fuji MX2700 and the Sony DSC-F55K. I personally feel that Nikon are onto another winner here, at the low price point, small compact design and excellent image quality there will be a still very strong market for this camera.

The reviewer also points out that because of the location of the batteries in the hand grip this makes the 700 considerably "thicker" than other compact cameras but that this design features leads to a more solid and safer carrying feel. He also points out that battery life is fairly good (I'm interested by this comment, it must be the lack of zoom and continuous focus that extends battery life) even on normal Alkaline batteries being able to take around 100 shots.

Basic function the same as the Coolpix 950

The reviewer notes that one of the most attractive things about the 700 is the vast array of functions inherited from it's "higher ranking machine" the Coolpix 950.

However, it's worth noting that the Coolpix 700 does NOT have shutter or aperture priority and because of the different lens macro is only possible down to 9cm.

However the camera still has the large internal buffer of the 950, features continuous shooting as well as BSS and all other details of the 950.

The reviewer notes that simply putting the camera into A (Auto) mode is a very straight forward way of taking "snaps" and that M (Manual) mode gives room for the more adventurous to experiement.

Convenience and image quality

The reviewer notes that the same CCD (1/2" 2.11 megapixels) as is used on the 950 is used in the 700, the lens is a fixed 6.5mm (35mm equivelent to 35mm) F2.6 lens. And that the camera enjoys the same fast processing and startup times as the 950.

It is also noted that the 700 does not continually focus as the 950 but rather a single auto-focus with a half-press of the shutter-release (a function which is available on the 950 through a menu option and DOES extend battery life).

The 700 also features the same menu systems and user-presets as the 950 and the extended manual functions (including boosted sensitivty; ISO) and manual focus. The reviewer was not as impressed by the white balance ability of the camera as that of the Fuji MX2700 (I concur) however the manual white balance presetting feature more than makes up for this.

The reviewer is very pleased by the image quality (take a look at the samples on the review page they are very impressive) and notes that the colour reproduction is natural and consistent. He does however note that there is noticeable colour fringing (abberations) towards the edges of images (it is noticeable in his samples).

He also points out the high quality of the lens and it's ability to take advantage of the high resolution of the CCD producing very sharp clear "bright" images.

You may also want to check out my Coolpix 700 infosheet (includes scanned Nikon Information sheet).