01.Polaroid TWO PoGo quick review
Polaroid TWO instant digital camera/ PoGo printer
Polaroid TWO - $270
Polaroid PoGo printer - $130 (30 sheets of Zink photo paper - $20)
Since the late 1940s, the name Polaroid has been associated with instant photo prints. The cameras were never cheap to use, but in the days when film was your only option, they were more than just a novelty. They provided professional and amateur alike with a viable instant image that could be used as an end in itself, or as a check to ensure valuable film and time wasn't wasted on poorly framed or exposed images. Then came the digital camera, so instant checking is now an expectation rather than the exception and the process is virtually free.
So why produce a digital camera with a built-in printer? The most obvious answer is that a print would be a nice thing to produce for friends or colleagues on the spot – as with other digital cameras, you can show them the image on the camera itself, but this also provides them with something to take with them.
Polaroid has produced two products that appear to attempt to address this need. The Polaroid TWO is a five-megapixel digital camera with a dye sublimation printer incorporated and the Polaroid PoGo is just a printer. You can connect the latter via USB or Bluetooth to just about anything with a print function. They are both battery-operated and, therefore, very mobile.
Unfortunately, neither of these products is as useful as the Polaroid cameras of the past. The first problem is the paper size (5cm x 7.6cm), which is a little smaller than the average business card and, at around 66 cents per page, a relatively expensive printing proposition. Secondly, the print quality on both of them is poor, at best, with inaccurate colours and striations in areas of solid colour, such as a sky. However, they do have a sticky backing, and therefore might be handy for school assignments and the like.
The camera has a digital (4X) zoom, but its image quality is poor – even on-screen and at the camera’s best quality setting, and the digital crop just makes it worse. Its (6 x 4.5cm) monitor is dull and difficult to see in bright conditions, but the menu is reasonably intuitive. There's no indication that the camera is in focus and it's slow to respond to the shutter button or changes in ambient light. Video quality (640 x 480, 30fps) is very poor, but the camera can be used as a webcam. It’s heavy (325g including battery and paper) and bulky (118 x 76 x 36.5mm ) for a compact camera, largely because it includes the printer. At around $270, it's far from the value for money we'd expect these days. In fact, it does have a slightly retro feel in that it performs similarly to the early compact digital cameras, but there's little from that period to be nostalgic about.
The Polaroid PoGo printer is lighter than the camera (228g, including battery and paper) and cheaper at $130, but, other than its portability, has little to recommend it. It can connect to a mobile phone and we managed to do so without trouble. However, we couldn't get the Bluetooth connection to work with either an Apple iPhone 4 or 3Gs. Printing takes about a minute, as promised in the manual, but the image is heavily cropped at the edges because the paper is a different format to most digital cameras (the Polaroid TWO included).
Given that it's not difficult to share images from one mobile phone to another, and the relative quality of most digital cameras in this price bracket, it’s hard to see the value for either of these products.