Nikon's "big gun" of the Coolpix range has always been the P-series, now seen in its latest P7700 form.

The camera has undergone a bit of a redesign compared to its bulky, boxy former P7100 self. It's still not small by any means, but this sizeable wedge has certainly ironed out its edges and brings the range up a gear in the design stakes.

It's thinner and shorter than its predecessor, but only by a matter of millimetres rather than significantly.

But it's the positioning of buttons on dials that makes the biggest difference in the hand. There's a function (Fn) button to the front of the camera, where a DSLR's depth-of-field-preview button would often be located, while the top thumbwheel has been repositioned and angled for more comfortable use.

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Despite rumours that Nikon would be launching a fixed-lens compact camera with a large 1-inch sensor size, there was no such camera on display and the company refused to comment further.

But that's not to say the P7700 doesn't advance its sensor: the 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor sees the CCD of the P7100 fall by the wayside, making room for a more proficient and movie-capable compact.

Other advances include wireless flash control using Nikon's Creative Lighting System, should you have external flashguns, and the rear 3-inch LCD screen is now mounted on a vari-angle bracket so it can be moved through almost any angle, far more significantly than the P7100's "pull out" angled screen. 

Another biggie on the list is that the P7700's 7.1x optical zoom lens, while retaining its 28-200mm equivalent zoom of its predecessor, now offers a brighter f/2.0-4.0 aperture range. Detail geeks might like to know it's made of 13 elements (with two ED glass elements), has a seven-blade iris and also includes an in-camera neutral density (ND) filter.

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These headline features alone certainly give it more kudos than its predecessor, though it's essential when considering what else has recently hit the market - take a gander at the Canon G1 X, Sony RX100 and dabble in the rumours of the Fujifilm X-F1 and there's a lot of competitive choice.

Nikon says the P7700 is also faster. We hope that addresses complaints made about previous P-series compacts but, sadly, this prototype didn't have a battery. As much as our external assessment gave us some impressions, how the latest P-series handles is, for the time being at least, a bit of a mystery.

Available from the end of September priced £499, we'll bring a full P7700 review when we can dish the dirt on how it performs too. Watch this space...