Compare the A230's specs with that of its brother, the A330, and you could be forgiven for thinking that Sony had made a mistake. Both cameras share a 10.2-megapixel sensor and create 3872 x 2592 images.
You also get Sony's integrated image stabilisation, the unusual ability to accept either SD or Memory Stick Pro Duo cards via the twin slots, as well as the sliding plastic screen that covers them. The layout of the controls is also nearly identical.
Both cameras feel the same, which is to say slightly too small for our hands; cameras such as the Canon 1000D feel more natural and less likely to get away.
The viewfinders are similarly slightly small: hold your eye to them at anything other than dead-on and it's difficult to see the whole frame.
There was little difference in image quality in our tests. Both the A230 and the A330 come with the same superbly sharp 18-55mm lens, which performed well in our tests.
Chromatic aberration is kept to a minimum, although the results in our high ISO tests were noticeably worse than those from low-end cameras from either Canon or Nikon.
There are a few differences between the two models. The A230 lacks the A330's hinged screen, for instance. This isn't a feature we'd describe as a must-have on a DSLR just yet, but it's handy for beginners, and handier still if you want to get a stranger to snap a picture of you, as is the Live View mode - another feature missing from the A230.
The 2.7in, 230,000-pixel screen is good, although the menu system doesn't compete with the established excellence of either Nikon's or Canon's menus. The orange-on-white colour scheme isn't particularly high contrast and can be tricky to see in bright sunlight.
The A230 doesn't lack much, which is stunning considering its price. However, for $170 more you can pick up the better-specified A330.
And for the ultimate in value, it can't beat the Pentax K-m, which offers excellent image quality and is supremely comfortable, yet costs even less.
There's no arguing with the A230's value, but the race at the budget end of the DSLR market is incredibly tight, and at this price the A230 is a little short of the mark.