At a beauty pageant the SX100 IS probably wouldn't make it into the final 12; Canon took a rather 'form follows function' approach when designing their first budget superzoom compact camera. That's not necessarily a bad thing; build quality and materials have been adopted from Canon's popular A series, which has established itself as a reliable user-friendly range of cameras. Externally curves are the predominant shapes on the SX100 IS; hard edges can't be found anywhere on the body. Its dimensions and weight make it a camera more suitable for being carried in a bag rather than your shirt pocket. Having said that, for a 10x zoom it is pretty compact.
The control layout is usually pretty consistent throughout the Canon range and the designers haven't changed their ways this time around. This is no bad thing, as the Canon interface is one of the most intuitive we have come across - though in this model the number of external controls is surprisingly small considering the camera's comprehensive set of features. All everyday shooting functions can be accessed via the excellent FUNC menu - and Canon has even managed to integrate a dedicated ISO button (something still missing from the A series cameras). Luckily the function of the otherwise rather pointless print button can now be customized, you can choose between White Balance, Digital Zoom and a few more options.
The SX100 IS has also inherited a cut-down version of the G9's rotating controller/jog-dial combination, once you've got used to its operation you'll find it very useful for browsing menus and images, it really speeds things up. Although the SX100 IS has a lot more plastic than the more upmarket Powershots, it feels well constructed and solid.
In your hand
The SX100 IS is quite significantly larger and heavier than your typical stylish super-slim compact but nonetheless (or rather because of that) it handles very well. The grip, which houses the batteries, is a very helpful feature, the camera always feels stable in your hands. The shutter button and zoom lever are perfectly positioned too, operation with one hand is not a problem at all.
No revolutionary innovations to be found here; Canon has stuck to the formula that is well known from the the A-series and has only added a few modifications here and there. Anybody who has used a more recent Canon compact camera before won't find any surprises when they pick up the SX100 IS.