The DSC-P71 continues Sony's 'long and narrow' design with the lens mounted on the far left edge. The design is reminiscent of the DSC-P1 but the P71 is noticeably bigger than that camera. Other differences are in the build material, plastic for the P71 (although still very good build quality for an entry-level range camera). Everything is where you'd expect it to be with the LCD mounted centrally in the camera rear, various controls to the left of it and the main mode dial slightly overhanging the top of the camera. Also note that the two batteries slide in a door in the right side and that the Memory Stick slot is in the base of the camera.
In your hand the P71 is comfortable enough, the bump on the front of the camera serves as a finger hook type hand grip. The slightly chunkier dimensions make the P71 easier to hold than the P1 or P5 and of course buttons are a little bigger. Because of the location of the compartment the batteries sit 'in the palm of your hand', this combined with the plastic case enable the P71 to balance well and feel light in your hand.
LCD Monitor / Viewfinder
The P71 has the same small 1.5" LCD we first saw on the P1 (and later on the P5), it's bright, sharp and has an anti-reflective coating. My only concern with the LCD is that it doesn't have a thick protective window (you can touch the LCD and make it 'run') which does leave the screen more prone to damage. The viewfinder is what we'd expect on this level of camera, a small optical tunnel. There's no dioptre adjustment, there are three LED's which indicate various camera modes or operating functions.
Battery / Compact Flash Compartments
The P71 reduces the cost of the overall package by not including the expensive Lithium-Ion battery pack and charger. Instead it takes two AA batteries (NiMH rechargeable included) which slide into the side of the camera. Using two of the most powerful AA's available (GP 1800 mAh NiMH's) which would have a combined maximum capacity of 2.4 V, 1800 mAh you would have 4.3 Wh on tap which is considerably more than the DSC-P5 and just less than Nikon's EN-EL1.
Turn the camera on its back and you'll find the Memory Stick compartment door, slide the door outwards and it springs open on its own. Remove the Memory Stick by pressing it. Sony don't let down on build quality, even for what is considered an entry level camera, all compartment doors use strong metal sprung hinges (it makes all the difference). Other manufacturers take note.
Connectivity is provided in two places on the rear of the camera (left and right edges). On the left is the video out and USB port, on the right is the DC-IN power supply connector (for optional AC PSU).
Supplied in the box are:
Sony DSC-P71 digital camera