The Toshiba PDR-5300's svelte metal case isn't the lightest or smallest we've seen, but its 7.5-ounce weight and 3.7-by-2.3-by-1.3-inch dimensions mean it fits easily into a pocket and won't weigh you down on long journeys. It also has a 3X optical zoom and a 5-megapixel sensor, plus the ability to shoot movies with audio.
The $350 PDR-5300 produced great-looking images, with strong, accurate colors both in natural light and with the built-in flash, although the flash did not illuminate more than a few feet away in darkness. In our photo-quality tests, only two other point-and-shoot cameras (the Nikon Coolpix 3700 and the Minolta DiMage G500) scored better (they rated slightly higher than the Toshiba).
Movies captured by the PDR-5300 were rather disappointing. The maximum resolution is only 320 by 240 (several cameras reach 640 by 480), the video looked jerky, and the audio sounded terrible, probably due to the placement of the microphone on the top of the camera. The microphone is barely able to capture the voice of a subject, and it can be easily overwhelmed by the voice of the person holding the camera--especially if they are looking through the optical viewfinder. The maximum length of a video clip is 60 seconds.
The controls are generally easy to use, with the zoom control sitting comfortably under the thumb, and the shutter under the index finger for comfortable one-handed use. Three scene modes (portrait, sports, and night scene), plus both aperture- and shutter-priority modes and a fully automatic mode, provide plenty of creative control. And the unit has a fully manual mode--a rarity on point-and-shoot cameras. The autofocus is a little sluggish, and the camera can sometimes take a while to focus: It focuses only after you press the shutter, which can cause a long pause between when you press the button and when the camera takes the picture. You could miss some candid shots that way.
The PDR's battery life was a little disappointing. We got 231 shots, or just over 1 hour and 20 minutes of use out of the small rechargeable lithium-ion battery--slightly less than the average of 259 shots (or 90 minutes), but much less than the best point-and-shoot model (the Nikon Coolpix 3700) scored. The charger plugs into the camera, so you can't buy a second, backup battery and charge it outside the camera.
The PDR-5300 is small and lightweight, and provides most of the features that a typical user would need--plus, it takes good pictures for the money.
This story, "Toshiba PDR-5300" was originally published by PCWorld.