The Gadget: The Stylus 1030SW, Olympus' semi-indestructible 10.1MP point-and-shoot, is designed for fairly extreme conditions. Olympus claims the camera is shockproof (to 2 metres), waterproof (to 10 metres), freezeproof (to -10°C), and crushproof (to 100kg) We've seen other cameras with features like this, but it's rare that they're all combined into one.
The Price: $599 retail, we've seen it as low as $430.
The Verdict: It's tougher than Glass Joe, but it's no Mike Tyson.
I tested the 1030SW under fairly rigorous conditions, and for the most part it stood up to the challenge. After dropping the camera to the ground from around six feet, it took pictures without any problem. Next was the underwater test. I didn't take it to the limit, but I did bring it with me in the tub. The camera works under water, and there are options designed for capturing images of sea life. The pictures didn't come out too well, but that could be my fault as it is likely designed to shoot fish in clear water and not sitting in a bathtub, taking pictures of my...er...feet.
Things got a little trickier during the freeze and crush tests. I left it in the freezer for about two hours, and when I took it out I had a "Battery Empty" message. Worried that I damaged the camera, I let it thaw and it came back to full power after 10-15 minutes. For the crush test, I placed all 170+ pounds of myself on top of the camera. At first I heard a little unnerving crunch, and when I picked it up, I saw what looked like a crack in the LCD screen. However, after about 15 seconds, it went away and I was left with the same crack-free screen I had when I started.
As for the pictures, they came out well for the most part. In optimal conditions, they looked great. When I was under water, or in a dimly lit room the snapshots left a little something to be desired. I was able to correct some of the shots with the various exposure options, but it's still a point-and-shoot.
If you are going on an outdoor adventure and looking for a light, easy camera to take, this is a good bet. I wouldn't recommend pushing it to the advertised limits, but it's definitely sturdier than other cameras in its price range.
AU: I took the 1030SW with me on my honeymoon to Fiji, and have to say that the underwater photos in the open sea were pretty good. I'll put my own review up here this week...