Ok now that the a77II is announced, here’s a short summary of what I found when I tested the Sony a77 (Original) a while back....
We'll review as regards to the following, in that order because that’s the order in which I wrote it down.
First a Piccie so we know the wee beastie we are dicussing here!
1: Build Quality: Solid without being hefty, fits the hand "Like no other" Oops Sorry couldn't resist! Very comfortable to hold for long periods of time, everything fits flush. Just look at the tolerances on the flash housing, It's been very precisely put together, the one weak point could be the tilt/swivel screen, I keep trying to bend it the wrong way but it seems solid enough. If you go into a fire fight with the screen out you deserve what you get! Viewfinder will take some getting used to. It makes some odd White balance choices in low light and gets very grainy here too but it's an EVF and what can I expect, I will try to embrace it. Lens is quite nicely put together but I'd have liked to see a bit of metal in an F2,8 SSM. The Lens is very sharp wide open, showing lovely detail and Contrast, it has auto Lens correction in the A77 and so may not perform quite so well on older APSC Bodies, please be aware of this if you are not buying an A77 kit...
2: Usability: Very approachable despite there being a lot going on here, spent a day walking around the English Lake District with it and it didn't make me swear once, for a new (Second time around, Ex A900) user I think that’s not a bad show, nothing I could pinpoint as bad after such a short time. Battery life whilst probably good for SLT, is not up to DSLR Standards. If you want to try event shooting QUITE LITERALLY get a Grip!
3: Features: Well ten out of ten, I'm sure there’s a Kitchen sink in there somewhere, sure I'll think of something fault it on here after more time spent but the reason I think people find fault, Is that it gives so many features and gets you thinking about so many possibilities with those features. Nothing can be perfect but I haven't seen a Camera that offers so much in my 25 Years of Photography.
4: Image Quality: I want to hate it for being noisier than my Nikon D7000 (Now for sale!) but I can't! It's the first of its kind, new wave, has an incredible amount of detail in those files at low ISO's and performs very well up to ISO 1600, Where like my A900 did it drops off a cliff! It's 24Mp for God’s sake in a sensor half the size of my A900, yet it's as good or only a translucent Mirrors difference away right until ISO 1600. It loses a point for the JPEG engine which is not that big a deal to a Landscaper like me BUT the RAW's show how good it could be... Enough Said.
5: Price: Tricky as I'm still unsure as to where it fits in, If it's meant to be an enthusiast A700 replacement and so, 7D/D300s class then it's very good but if that’s where the A99 will sit (Do we know?) then it's a D7000 class and therefore a bit on the high side, even given the amount of technology involved. The price has to be attractive and Sony can't just rely on their name here.
So far, from the Web buzz the biggest fault seems to be that JPEG Engine, hopefully some more firmware will sort that out, come on Sony, you know you want to... Overall I'd give it a Nine out of ten, and I'm very stingy with my scores, ultimately it's a Camera that offers a huge amount of creative potential in an easy to use and approachable package, the Multistack image modes for low noise and twighlight/HDR are worth a special mention and lift Jpeg shooting a notch above what is traditionally thought possible.