Casio Tryx (EX-TR100) hands-on
- Incredibly slim and portable
- Fantastic 1080p movie mode
- Reasonably priced
- Awful battery life
- Proprietary charging port
- No optical zoom
Let's be crystal clear here -- Casio's playing up the design angle hard on the Tryx. And unsurprisingly so, might we add. The chassis is undoubtedly the differentiating factor that separates this shooter from a myriad others that are currently cluttering store shelves, but the real question is this: does it matter? We've seen pop-out displays emerge on DSLRs -- where they're seen as helpful for budding video makers who need to shoot low-angle clips -- but Casio's taking a leap of faith by assuming the same theory will translate in the compact realm.
After you've moved the LCD out into the open, you can swivel it 360 degrees -- perfect for shooting low-angle video and self-portraits. The hinge does an excellent job of holding the LCD where you put it, yet it's smooth enough that it doesn't require the assistance of the Old Spice Guy to return it to its default position. The 12.1 megapixel CMOS sensor that dominates the face of the device is encased in a protective layer, and while we weren't able to scratch it during our recent jaunt to Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest and Joshua Tree National Parks, we're still leery that one or two tumbles could render all of your future photos a bit less idyllic.
The user interface that Casio has loaded onto the Tryx is certainly sufficient. It's intuitive enough to navigate sans a trip through the dreaded user guide, and changing between modes rarely required more than two or three taps on the panel. Thankfully, the touchscreen is superbly responsive, and we never once had an issue with the camera recognizing our commands. We still prefer manual control dials and physical buttons when it comes to navigating through camera menus, but Casio does an admirable job of creating a touch-based UI that simply works.
Software and user experience
While we're on the topic, it's worth pointing out that this camera is capable of logging clips at 1080p, which is -- in our humble opinion -- the single most understated standout feature of the Tryx. A video can be started by tapping a small red record button in the lower right corner of the LCD, and we had no stuttering issues whatsoever using an off-the-shelf SDHC card. Unfortunately, it's impossible to start a video while shooting in panorama mode -- you'll need to switch into a standard automatic mode first, which seems like a ridiculous and unnecessary complication given just how terrific the panoramic mode truly is. In other words, we found ourselves glued to the panorama mode, but had to switch back and forth just to start videos.
The 12.1 megapixel CMOS sensor does predictably well in broad daylight. Colors were generally sharp and crisp, and for a sub-$250 point-and-shoot, we really had no qualms with our results. Once the light starts fading, however, it has a difficult time snapping a usable image free of blur. Expected, sure, but having full manual control access would've come in handy here. Considering that there's no optical zoom, you'll be forced to move forward and back to change what's in the frame. It's pretty obvious that still images aren't this camera's forte, but it certainly does a better job with 'em while also handling 1080p video than any of Flip Video's (now-defunct) camcorders ever did. Have a gander in the gallery below to get a feel for the image quality -- just so you know, these are completely untouched aside from a resize.
Casio Tryx sample shots
You're probably wondering why an atypical point-and-shoot deserves a battery section, so we'll just cut to the chase: the longevity of the Tryx is startlingly poor. 50 still images and 20 minutes of capturing 1080p footage had our review unit hanging on for dear life, and we aren't confident that a full charge is capable of lasting through a solid hour of filming. That may be forgivable if a few other things were true, but they aren't.
What's so irritating about this decision isn't the requirement to carry around yet another cable in your pack; it's that Casio came so close to including a feature that we'd love to see on every single point-and-shoot from here on out. Had this camera been able to recharge via a standard micro-USB port (you know, like your Android smartphone, PND, portable media player, and 14 other gadgets you've got sitting around), it would have instantly become one of the most stress-free charging experiences to ever hit the P&S world. As it stands, we're flabbergasted with the design choice to select something other than a standard port -- there may be an awesome reason from an engineering standpoint, but if we can charge a Nexus One and a Columbia heated jacket through the aforesaid port, why not this?
Update: Casio reported 50 still shots with just over an hour of Full HD video, but it's hard to say how much time they spent simply toting the camera around with the LCD on -- you know, as a real-world user would. As always, battery life is full of YMMV, but now you've got an ideal look at what you could possibly squeeze out, too.
Casio's Tryx (EX-TR100) is far and away the most interestingly designed point-and-shoot that we've seen in years, but the compromises made to end up with a needlessly unique design continues to haunt it. The only logical benefit to the swivel-based form factor is to assist with low-level video shooting, and while the 1080p content that it logs is admittedly impressive, the paltry battery life means that you won't be shooting that way for long. If you're looking for a so-called Flip substitute now that Cisco's consumer dream has died, this would be an amazing option for $229... if it'd last for more than a couple of hours. We'd also have a far greater sense of appreciation for the design decisions if this were rechargeable via a traditional micro-USB cable, but alas, we're left with an even inferior solution: a proprietary cable and the inability to insert a secondary battery.