Pros Solid Feel, outstanding image quality (clarity, saturation, etc. is very good), Canon reliability, more than enough features for the average point & shoot photographer especially at this price. Image quality rivals that of my friends 8MP Rebel DSLR.
Cons MAYBE shutter lag between shots when using flash and battery life when using alkaline AA's. But to this point, these are minor issues for me. I still got over 200 shots plus several short videos out of my AA's, and the shutter lag is very workable.
Summary Our extremely reliable, but aging family point-and-shoot Canon recently bit the dust after about 7 years of active duty. We had a tight spending budget, so I began looking into new cameras in the $100 range. After much research (you name the site, I probably looked at it) and even going to a few local stores and spending about 2 hours looking at and testing every camera in the $100 - $150 range, finally settled on the A495. I purchased it for around $110.
I have taken it through some real tests over the last few days. I am a less than pro, more than average photographer who started my photo taking "career" with a Miranda 35mm and a Pentax 35mm (both pro quality cameras) decades ago. I've used many, many cameras through the years, including a lot of digital cameras, and I must say that so far I am impressed with this little Canon!
Out of the box I shot some pics in the early morning sun of a butterfly release where I got some outstanding macro shots. Later that same day I took over a hundred photos at my daughter's field day where I caught action shot after action shot flawlessly (just make sure to pre-plan/compose and pre-focus when you get the chance), did several videos with above average video and sound quality, and then took some indoor shots at a bowling alley in the evening. I haven't tried any night shots yet, and I'm still getting used to the camera, but I already have gotten some great stuff so far!
I would absolutely recommend the Canon A495. If you've got $175 + to spend, there might be some better options out there, but I can't see how you can come close to a better all around camera for anything under that. In fact, I did check out some more expensive cameras in the $200 range just for fun while I was out looking, and I found that many weren't as good as this one.
I didn't set out to buy a Canon necessarily, but I have no qualms about ending up with one. I've both owned and used many Canon's over the years and have had nothing but good experiences with them. The one's I have owned have given me years of solid service without issue, and I expect nothing less from this unit. Read the manual, take the info to heart when you're taking pics, and you won't be disappointed.
BOTTOM LINE - I cannot recommend this camera highly enough. I honestly don't see how you can find better for the price.
Pros Image quality without even trying. Everything is automatic for you! Automatically detects faces, night mode when in the darkness, flash when needed etc
Cons a little bulky than other cameras around at the moment, but looks hot in the blue and still a nice looking camera
Summary I've always been advised by my Uncle to buy a Canon for getting a better image quality, and he was definitely right. Don't be fooled that spending over $200 will get you a good camera. I bought one (a fujifilm) while on holidays for emergency purposes only, as the other one died (a cheap kodak), It cost me $250 and was worse than my cheap kodak! I paid only $84 for this Canon Power Shot A495 from Harvey Norman. I remember seeing these cameras last year for around $130. I also recommend reading a review of the camera you are interested in buying just to see if it is worth it or not. I think most cameras on the market are trying to sell themselves by their looks or interesting specs which aren't necessarily as good as they make out. i have found no matter what battery you use, none of them last, wether it be the lithium, the alkaline or the rechargeable, but i personally believe the lithium last the longest out of the three. I am only a simple photo taker and so far have been impressed with the quality i receive from this canon. I took a photo of myself in the pitch black dark and the camera detected night mode. The photo of my face shows all of my pores really clearly. There is nothing I hate more than taking indoor photos and the photo coming out too fuzzy. There are a lot of phony cameras out there at expensive prices doing this, so beware!