Back in January I reviewed the Pentax Optio T20, a 7.1-megapixel, 3x zoom ultra-compact camera with a novel 3-inch touch-screen interface. It was an interesting camera with some nice touches, but was let down by sluggish performance and limited battery life, as well as a couple of annoying features. I gave it a low score, in retrospect possibly a bit lower than it really deserved.
However 6 months later the T20 has been replaced in Pentax’s model range by this, the new T30. It too is a 3x zoom ultra-compact (as are most of Pentax’s range) with the same 3-inch monitor with touch-screen interface, but this time it features a 7.1-megapixel CCD, a massive 0.1 megapixels bigger than its predecessor. It also has a slightly re-designed body, and as we’ll see it also has several other improvements.
One of my criticisms of the T20 was its relatively poor value for money, but that’s not a charge that can be justifiably laid against the T30. Although it has a list price of £229, it is already available from several online retailers for as little as £152.99. This compares fairly well with other high-spec 3x zoom ultra-compacts, such as the Casio Exilim EX-S770 (£180), Nikon CoolPix S500 (£160), or Canon IXUS 70 (£170).
The overall style of the T30 is a bit less bland than the T20. The end plates, which were previously flat, are now curved, while the previously curved top plate is now flat. The detailing on the front is slightly shaped, possibly with the intention of acting as a sort of finger grip, but if so it is largely ineffective. The back is just as minimalist as before. Because most of the control functions are operated by the touch screen system, there is no need for the traditional D-pad on the back, leaving only the playback and menu buttons. This leaves plenty of room to hold the camera, despite the large screen which takes up most of the back. There is a small indented thumb grip area, but it doesn’t seem to make much difference. The 3-inch LCD monitor screen itself is particularly good, with 230k pixels and a nice fast refresh rate.