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Nikon's Coolpix S51c: Not Cool Enough

A few design flaws really detract from this camera's usefulness, and its Wi-Fi capability may be little more than a battery hog for many owners

Over the past couple of years, Nikon has been amping up the style of its Coolpix point-and-shoot cameras to compete with the likes of Canon and Sony for consumers who buy just as much for looks as for performance. The 5-ounce Nikon Coolpix S51c fits squarely in that category, with a sleek silver-and-chrome faceplate that immediately catches the eye.

The front of this $280 camera is slightly thicker on the right side, where a built-in Wi-Fi radio is housed. The back is devoted almost entirely to the 3-inch, antireflective, liquid-crystal display screen, which makes quite a statement, though it might not be one many will like. Despite a relatively bright luminance, there's no painless way to quickly adjust the display in sun and other glaring light. Instead, you have to dig through a cumbersome menu on the screen, fighting the glare as you do. And while navigating the controls on many cameras is relatively simple, this Nikon gives you only a cramped, half-inch area to the right of the screen to work the buttons.