Bells and Whistles
I've had a Sony DSLR-A200 for a couple of years now. I chose it over the Canon and Nikon competition of the time since Sony seemed to have gone for image quality over bells and whistles. Take a look at dxomark.com to see what I mean. It's a small difference, but a significant one. Some would suggest that Sony are keeping the best sensors for themselves, but processed jpegs are better on the Sony than the Canon or Nikon available at the time I bought my Sony, so it ain't just the sensor but image processing too. I do tend to shoot RAW for serious photography, but when I'm snapping away it's nice to know the processor is doing a good job.
With the 290 I'm a bit concerned that Sony are taking their entry level camera down the bells and whistles route. I'm also concerned they are getting sucked into the megapixel war that everybody else has realised is a dead end.
Oh and @blackworx does anybody actually who knows the first thing about photography actually buy the kit at this price level? Surely anybody who cares about their photography realises that the lens is at least as important as the camera* and chooses their lens as carefully as the body. Kit lenses are designed down to a target price, and that target really is pretty much zero. The manufacturers want the their kit to hit the shelves at as low a price as possible and they know the sort of punter who buys the kit won't realise that their can be a huge difference between the kit lens and a more expensive lens with the same focal length range.
* In the days of film I would have said the order of importance went Lens, Emulsion, Body. These days however in most cases the sensor and body are of a unit so it's harder to split the importance of the lens and the body/sensor.