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Although obviously from the same stable as the model on the previous page, it is surprising just how different the M60 looks from the M5. Some of the controls remain the same - but others have changed substantially. We are particularly pleased to note that most of the design changes have been for the better - as if Toshiba had foreseen our criticisms of the M5. The newer M60 has moved the information panel we moaned about to the top plate, making it so much easier to see. The new camera has opted for a no-nonsense automatic flash, that you don't have to remember to switch on before you start. Furthermore, the camera has been made that touch more portable with its reduced depth. This last improvement has come at a price, however, as this model has a simpler 2.3x zoom. But this is one of the reasons why the M60, at 399, is significantly cheaper than its forebear.
Bearing in mind that cutbacks are necessary to produce a less expensive product, it is surprising that the resolution of this camera is improved. The M60 boasts 2.3 million pixels - offering a maximum resolution of 1792x1200 using the JPEG format. The only trouble with this is that at the same time Toshiba has cut the size of the supplied SmartMedia card - with a capacity of just 4Mb it can only record a single image at the most premium quality. Obviously more capacious cards can be bought - but then you have to see the selling price in a different light to allow for this. There are further economies too: there is not printed instruction booklet - this is instead provided as a pdf file on the software CD-Rom; also there are no serial cables in the pack - both PC and Mac users need a USB connector if they are going to plug directly into their computer.
You must also bear in mind that this model uses conventional AA cells - which will increase the cost, even if you take the sensible option of buying your own rechargeable cells and charger. It must also be said that the battery compartment is difficult to deal with; you run the risk of breaking your nails to get in, and you need both hands to get the thing properly shut.
Once the power is sorted, this is a dream of a camera to use. Toshiba has retained the same user interface as that used on the M5 with the joystick control for scrolling through the options. The main mode control is again at a slant - helping it to fall easy to hand; and although the grip is not as large as that of its brother it is easy enough to hold the camera steadily and tightly. The LCD screen controls for the quality, flash and selftimer settings remain the same - but its new position mean that it can be read far more easily.
Although the M60 offers the same manual mode in addition to the fully-auto setting, the camera has marginally less overrides at your disposal. When you take creative control, there is no aperture priority setting - and the bizarre movable focusing zone is no where to be seen. What this leaves you with is an exposure compensation setting, plus a white balance override that offers daylight, tungsten settings, plus a further two for different types of fluorescent lighting.
The camera turned in a respectable set of results in a wide variety of situations. We found the autofocus slow, but generally very accurate - giving images with good sharpness and resolution. It was equally at home reproducing natural colours as it was more gaudy hues.
This is a camera that is well suited to the task of being an all-round choice for the hobbyist - particularly because of its aggressive price. It may miss a few tricks in order to keep below the 400 price tag - but we suspect that many will be quite happy to do so. We are also really impressed with the way that Toshiba has improved on the design and handling of the M5 to produce this stripped-down model. If only you could have the features of the M5 on the M60's body.....
- Low price
- Excellent handling
- Stingy 4Mb card
- Awkward battery compartment
Test by Chris George