Camera design is all about compromise. Great pictures ideally need large sensors and fast lenses, but this usually means a heavier burden on your camera bag or wallet. Mirrorless cameras try to strike a middle ground by helping you capture DSLR-style images in a smaller, often less expensive package, but they're not truly portable. What about dedicated DSLR shooters who want something fun to throw in their pocket on the weekend?

Until now, the vast majority of compact cameras haven't had much to offer. Perhaps the best to date has been the Canon S100, a fairly tiny point-and-shoot that offers excellent manual control and relatively impressive image quality, but its compact-sized 1/1.7-inch sensor and somewhat slow lens limit its creative possibilities. With smartphones eating into the market for convenient cameras that can fit into your pocket, I've been waiting for something that can offer a genuine leap in quality without compromising on portability.

Sony thinks it's found the right mix with its new RX100. Fresh from success with its popular NEX range of mirrorless cameras, the company's now trying to one-up Canon's S100 with a larger sensor and faster lens in a very similar body. It uses a 20-megapixel, 1-inch sensor — the same size employed by Nikon in its V1 and J1 mirrorless cameras — and pairs it with an f/1.8-4.9, 28-100mm equivalent Carl Zeiss lens. All this, however, has somehow been crammed into an average point-and-shoot frame. On paper, at least, it sounds like it could be the new king of pocket-sized cameras — and with a list price of $649.99 (nearly twice as much as the S100 currently sells for) it had better be. Read on to find out how it stacks up.