Sterling first attempt, but features & print quality are seriously lacking
Digital printing made easy; prints effortlessly onto adhesive-backed paper
Big & bulky; no optical zoom; poor quality
Research shows that in this digital age, more than ever, people still have a deep-rooted need to see, feel, mark, share or use their digital images or information in a physical form. Paper, of some type, in fact. While digital cameras are high-tech and fun, printing a photograph is hardly quick and easy. That’s all about to change with Polaroid’s PoGo, an innovative all-in-one digital camera and printer. What’s so special about the Polaroid PoGo is that you can take a digital picture and then print it in less than 60 seconds as a full-colour, 2×3-inch print – all from one device!
The PoGo Instant Digital Camera (around £199 when launched next month) is essentially the digital version of Polaroid’s traditional instant camera, which we’ve all loved since the 70s. With this product, Polaroid is hoping to bring the magic of instant photography to a whole new generation. Even with the complexities of digital imaging, the PoGo is a snap to use. With the push of a button you can select from among the digital photos on the camera, crop or edit them, and then print them in colour in under a minute.
The PoGo Instant Digital Camera is actually the second product in Polaroid’s PoGo family of products. Like the PoGo Instant Mobile Printer (Best Current Price: £93.98), which hit store shelves in July 2008, the PoGo Instant Digital Camera uses the same licensed ZINK Technology. Similar to dye sublimation but has the heat-activated dye crystals embedded in the photo paper itself. ZINK stands for Zero Ink and is an amazing new way to print in without the need for ink cartridges or ribbons.
The ZINK technology encompasses both the ZINK Paper and the intelligence embedded in every ZINK-enabled device, including the PoGo Instant Mobile Printer. Before printing, ZINK Photo Paper appears white like regular photo paper. Once the pictures are printed, they are immediately dry to the touch, durable and smudge and water resistant. Ten- packs of ZINK Photo Paper, which can be used in both the Polaroid PoGo Instant Digital Camera and the Polaroid PoGo Instant Mobile Printer, retail for £4.99 and 30-packs for £12.99.
Polaroid’s PoGo Instant Digital Camera isn’t for hardcore photographers – it’s stuck with a 5-Megapixel sensor (completely out of line with today’s 10-Megapixel point-and-shooters), has no optical zoom and its 3-inch LCD monitor was fanciful in 1998. It’s also huge compared to the svelte models currently doing the rounds. And those who gravitate toward cameras that are 100% idiot-proof might have trouble with the PoGo Instant Mobile Printer because it’s hard to jump right in without reading the instructions. The menu options are initially overwhelming, and loading and printing the photo paper has to be done the right way or else nothing will happen. It also has poor ergonomics – no grip to hold on to and no logic to the placement or organisation of the keys.
If the earliest photos in your family albums are all old-school Polaroid, and you have fond memories of watching images of birthday parties and impromptu portraits emerge on the film, you’ll get on great with the PoGo Instant Digital Camera. By making digital printing more readily available and simpler, the camera should fit right into your family’s lives and let you unlock the value of impromptu photographs. The kids will definitely love it! And if you happen to be touring through the jungles of Africa on a lovely weekend afternoon and would like to give a photo to a tribe that doesn’t have digital cameras or electricity, you can quickly give them a printout. The camera easily connects to a PC or Mac where photos can be uploaded and saved from the camera’s 16MB internal memory or optional SD card. A neat touch is the ability to print photos taken on another camera – just slot in an SD card and you’re ready to go.
Overall, the PoGo Instant Digital Camera is a great idea. However, with only modest print quality (lacks sharpness, colour accuracy, and detail) and a serious lack of features, you may want to hold off for next-generation models that – fingers crossed – have an increased resolution and better quality lens, optical zoom, built-in geo tagging, and the ability to print 4×6-inch shots. Only then will Polaroid have a real winner on its hands and the potential for world domination.