Pentax continues to push the envelope, stretching the edges and testing the glue that holds down the flap. But it's not optics, usability, size of screen or quality of picture where it's forging ahead, so much as the sheer frequency of updates.
With its Optio S5i, S5n and latterly S5z cameras, Pentax managed to create new products simply by adding a few millimetres to the LCD on the back. We like the bigger screens, but there's only so much excitement we can muster for these incremental upgrades.
Sensing our dissatisfaction, Pentax has gone in a new direction with the Optio 6. It looks very similar to the S5z and offers the same features except for -- wait for it -- a 6-megapixel sensor. Having exhausted the more millimetres thing, Pentax has gone back to the time-honoured more megapixels upgrade. The S6 is also just 19mm thick, compared to the S5z's 22mm, but still finds space for a 3x optical zoom.
The same is true of the Pentax Optio WPi, an update of the waterproof Pentax Optio WP. Same thickness, same screen size, same chassis, one extra megapixel.
But -- and it's a big but -- these are still excellent compact digital cameras. They're easy to use, the screens make the most of the real estate on the back and they take very acceptable photos for the price. If you want a new digicam, you can certainly do much worse than a Pentax Optio. Just be aware that when you've shelled out £250 for one and an update comes along quicker than a Brett Lee bouncer, you're going to be miffed. -NH