Despite lacking the tough alloy frame of the 7D, the build quality of the EOS 550D is pretty good.
The plastic chassis manages to feel stiff and sturdy without being heavy, and the EOS 550D is certainly lighter and easier to lug around than a more pro-spec'd camera.
The ergonomics and menu layout are generally good too. The three-inch rear LCD is easy to read and manipulate in all but the poorest light, coming as it does with a resolution of 1,040,000 pixels.
This rear LCD is also a big help when recording and previewing moves in Live View mode. The top viewfinder is a bit small in comparison to the rear LCD; we had to squint through it a bit, and it's not the greatest aid to composition if, like this reviewer, you are cursed with a big nose.
Otherwise the various dials and buttons are well laid out and easy to manipulate, and it's nice to have a dedicated ISO button.
The EOS 550D strikes the perfect balance between the ease of use of an entry level Canon SLR and a more pro-spec'd model like the 7D; we're impressed.
The top mode dial looks a bit crowded, mainly because Canon's still insisting on squeezing on all those dumbed-down exposure presets that you get on beginner DSLRs (portrait, landscape, and so on). We reckon the boffins have got room for about three more icons before the whole wheel fills up!
It's not a big problem, but the clutter makes it easy to fail to notice the movie mode icon at the end and the extra CA (Creative Auto) mode, introduced with the EOS 50D.