The 10-megapixel G600 is not the sleekest looking compact camera out there, but it sure looks like it can take a licking. Indeed, it can withstand falls from about 5 feet "onto 26 surfaces" which apparently complies with the U.S. Department of Defense standards (even though it isn't being sold in the U.S.). The ruggedness specs don't actually compare that favorably to the slimmer Olympus Stylus 1030SW, another 10-megapixel weatherproof camera. In fact, the G600 is only "water resistant" down to about 3.3 feet of water for up to 30 minutes, whereas the Olympus model is waterproof to 33 feet. And despite the Ricoh's more rugged appearance, the 5 feet drop resistance doesn't match the Olympus's 6.6 feet.
Nevertheless, the Ricoh is a more flexible shooter, with a broader shutter speed range (8, 4, 2, 1 to 1/1500 seconds) and ISO sensitivity range (up to ISO 3200), as well as a more impressive focal length of 28- to 140mm equivalent, f/3.5-5.5, (vs. the 1030SW's 28mm to 102mm, f/3.5-5.1). Furthermore, Ricoh augments its built-in flash with a flash hotshoe for even more shooting flexibility. I particularly like the nice wide-angle lens and the big 2.7-inch LCD, and don't mind the lack of optical viewfinder, though I know others will miss it. Having recently returned from Europe, where the appalling Euro/Dollar exchange rate brutalized my wallet, the G600's £ 349.99 price (about $695 at today's exchange) is the worst thing about this camera. It ships in the U.K. and Ireland in May, but no word on whether it will ever make it stateside.