Ricoh is one of the oldest names in digital compact cameras, having launched its first model over ten years ago, but it has never been a particularly prolific manufacturer. Its current line-up consists of just eight cameras. There are four semi-pro models; the Caplio GX100, the GX200, the GR Digital and the GR Digital II; there's the heavy-duty industrial G600, the slim pocket compact R50, and the 10-megapixel, 7.1x zoom R8, which is still available. Adding to this short but interesting list is today's review camera, the new R10.
If you followed the last of those links, you'll spot straight away that the R10 is an upgrade of the R8, sharing a nearly identical body and many of the same features. No, I have no idea what happened to the R9 either. Like its predecessor, the R10 it has a 10.0-megapixel 1/2.3-inch CCD sensor and an f/3.3-5.2, 7.1x zoom lens with a focal length range equivalent to approximately 28-200mm. Where it differs from the R8 is in the LCD monitor, which is now an extra-sharp 3.0-inch unit with a resolution of 460k dots and a very wide viewing angle both vertically and horizontally.
If you were looking for a pocket compact with a good zoom range, a couple of years ago a Ricoh R-series would have been your only option, but since then more manufacturers have moved into this sector of the market, and the R10 has a lot more competition than some of its forebears. The most obvious comparison is the Panasonic TZ series, particularly the new 10-megapixel, 12x zoom DMC-TZ7, although that camera isn't available until April, and then at an as-yet undisclosed price. Also comparable is the superb 8MP, 10x zoom Panasonic DMC-TZ5 (£224), and the almost equally as good 9MP, 10x zoom Canon SX110 IS (£180). Ricoh cameras do have a reputation for being a bit expensive, but surprisingly the R10 undercuts both of these rivals with a price of around £170.