Without qualification, the actual aesthetic of the E-PL3 is what most separates it from the bulkier, more prosumer-focused E-P3. Well, that and the price. From a design standpoint, the PEN Lite E-PL3 is far slimmer than the E-P3, yet it retains a heavier, metallic body that won't soon be mistaken for a toy. The smaller size comes with quite a few compromises. For one, there's no built-in flash, but Olympus was smart enough to toss in a hot-shoe flash accessory for those needing one. Moreover, the tilting LCD on the rear lacks support for touch -- hardly a deal-breaker for us, but others may disagree.
The real kicker is the dearth of modal buttons. There's a single scroll wheel (which is fixed quite close to the body), and far fewer buttons / knobs for tweaking manual settings on the fly. Those looking for a wealth of manual controls will obviously be disappointed, but to be fair, the E-PL3 isn't aimed at that market. By and large, those familiar with the face of the E-P3 will have no troubles acclimating, but you'll need to adjust to having fewer knobs to turn when looking to tweak things.
The overall build quality is nothing short of exemplary, and the metallic body exudes quality. A front-mounted grip would've been appreciated, but outside of that, it's hard to kvetch about the chassis. Also noteworthy is the battery; not only did it last for around 215 shots with around 30 minutes of video thrown in, but it's also the same cell found in the E-P3. Naturally, that makes charging and battery swapping a breeze for families that intend to own both.
Image and video quality
Same story, different day. Due to the highly similar internals in the E-PL3, the output is effectively identical to that of the E-P3. In other words, our gripes of excessive "jelly vision" in the videos and an overly digitized look to untouched images stands here as well, and while the E-P3 claims to have the planet's fastest autofocus system, the E-PL3 can't be far behind. We never found ourselves wishing for E-P3-level quickness whilst using the E-PL3, and that's a good thing.