Although the design looks like it belongs in an Early Learning centre it's actually cleverer than it first appears. The basic shape of the RZ10 is a no-nonsense flat-sided box with heavily rounded corners, a motif of concentric circles and a two-colour palette. It has a simple resin-coated handgrip on the right hand end, although a closer look will reveal that the top-right end of the body flares up slightly, just enough to provide a bit of extra grip, while the layout of the rear controls leaves plenty of room on the back for your thumb.
The build quality is up to Pentax's usual high standard, and although the RZ10 has a plastic body it feels robust and well made. The battery hatch is very flimsy and the tripod bush is soft plastic, but other than that the quality is excellent, with tight panel joins and no embarrassing creaks. The controls are clearly labelled, solidly mounted and well spaced out, so even spade-handed clods like me will have no problem operating them.
The monitor screen could be a little better. It is well recessed to keep it out of harm's way, it has a good fast refresh rate and it is bright enough to use in daylight, with a good anti-glare coating to reduce reflections However the viewing angle is good in every direction except downwards, a problems if you want to hold the camera above your head to shoot over a crowd.
The RZ10 manages without some of the more exotic features of other cameras in its class, but it has all the basics plus a few extras. Shooting modes include Full Auto, program auto and a range of useful scene modes. The control interface is simple but effective, with a three-page main menu, as well as Pentax's programmable Green Button. In its default setting the green button activates an easy-to-use Auto mode with scene recognition, face detection and other automated features, however more sophisticated users can re-purpose the green button to provide fast access to up to four camera parameters, such as ISO setting, white balance, focus area, exposure compensation and more.
Other menu options include adjustable sharpness, saturation and contrast, selectable highlight and shadow correction and blink detection. The face detection option has its own dedicated button, and includes smile capture. There are further options in playback mode, including cropping, resizing, a wide range of digital filter effects and of course Pentax's woderful Frame Composite mode, which can add one of a wide and varied selection of super happy fun-time graphical frames to your picture, should you so desire.
The video recording mode gets the job done, but it's fairly unspectacular by recent standards. It records in 1280 x 720 pixel resolution at 30fps with mono sound, but the optical zoom cannot be used while recording.