The camera is designed to be very simple as possible. Turn it on, aim, and shoot. Focus, flash, and exposure are all auto-set automatically. There are manuallyadjustable controls, such as flash mode (red-eye reduction, off, on, auto), white balance, black-and-white mode, and exposure compensation.
To take a photo, look through the traditional viewfinder or use the 1.8-inch color LCD display on back of the camera. The photos are stored on SmartMedia cards. The included 8 MB card holds 12 images on the default setting or 1 image on the uncompressed TIFF setting. The card is rewritableable but should get a larger SmartMedia card. I got a free 64 MB card with mine and it holds over 100 images at one of the lower quality settings.
To get your photos onto your computer, you need an image software program. The included Image Expert software is sufficient to upload your images but doesn't have powerful editing features. You plug the USB cable into your camera and USB port, open up the software, click the option to view photos, choose those you want in the previews and hit save to computer. It takes some time to upload depending on the quality settings. Then you erase the card with another option.
Some users cannot get the driver to work on Windows XP but I have. It's a bit tricky. You'll need updated software located at Toshiba's site. You'll get XPs compatibility warning but it will work.
This camera eats batteries, especially with the LCD preview screen. I went through the four included alkaline batteries in about 15 minutes, so you need rechargeable batteries or get a pricey AC adaptor like I did. The Toshiba adaptor cost me $50 but has been a battery saver.
The uncompressed TIFF mode creates the highest-quality photos but you can't fit too many on your smartcard, unless it's huge capacity. I have a 64 MB card and it fits about 10 TIFFS.
It captures images at a 1600 x 1200 resolution for sharp prints at sizes up to 8x10 inches.
It has an autofocus lens, which makes it easier for non-professional photographers to just aim and shoot. Of course, professional want to be able to change the focus, so this is more for amateurs. However, it does have some more advanced features like shutter-riority and aperture-priority.
It has a 2x digital zoom which only crops the edges and enlarges the image. This sounds good but really lowers the image quality. An optical zoom lens would be better because it increases the actual lens power.
The basic package includes the PDR-M21 comes with the camera, hand strap, four AA alkaline batteries, 8 MB SmartMedia card, USB cable, Image Expert software, and a one-year warranty.
The camera is 2x4.5x2.8 inches and weighs 7.7 ounces.
I use this camera for ebay sales and personal photos of my family and collectibles. It works for me. I bought this on ebay for about $100 but it included a 64 MB smartmedia card. The price has decreased now, so expect to pay about $50-60 now.