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Cameras

Pentax Optio E30: Lolcats for kids

The Pentax Optio E30 is simplicity itself: an automatic 'green mode', cartoon menus and AA batteries, for less than a hundred pounds. Perfect for kids -- even before you hear it miaow like a cat

The Pentax Optio E30 is the chunky kid sister of the M30. They function in a very similar way, with the same emphasis on quick and easy snapping. Many aspects of these cameras are aimed as squarely at youngsters as cynically overexcited toy adverts on Saturday morning telly. Particularly the lolcat-friendly 'pet' mode.

The E30 is a 7.1-megapixel compact camera with a 3x optical zoom. Happily, it retails at well under £100, and is correspondingly scant on features. A big 'green mode' button that locks everything for automatic point-and-shootiness makes simplicity a virtue. A child could operate the E30, and judging by the friendly cartoon menus, that's the idea. Look out for 'surf and snow' mode, symbolised by a cheery snowman -- on a beach.

The E30 uses snapper-friendly AA batteries, so there's no need for a dedicated charger or pesky adaptor plugs when on holiday. You'll need plenty of spares, though, if you plan to take more than the 200 photos Pentax claims the AAs will produce. The battery compartment makes one end of the E30 flare into a bulbous growth that at least makes the camera easy to hold, with the shutter button slanted slightly forward.

Other kid-friendly features include three novelty frames. Frames aren't for everyone, but these are a particularly lacklustre trio: roses, lace, or a cartoon boy exclaiming "Happy!"

The kiddie coup de grâce is, however, the option to change the sounds the E30 makes when it takes a photo. Choose from a flute, a wibbly warble, or -- get this -- a cat. With a miaowing shutter release, the Pentax Optio E30 is perfect for lolcats. Sadly, it doesn't have a system to sense when you're taking a photo of a cat and pre-generate a caption -- a lolgorithm, if you will. -Rich Trenholm