Sunday, 6 December 2009

Retro innovative technology (think Polaroid[tm])

When I was thinking to start this blog, a few weeks ago, I had in mind to avoid referring to real life products, companies or people. I thought - and still believe so - that, unless you refer to things really close to you or directly under your control, it is not too difficult to get the facts wrong. Since then, however, I have realised that it is such things that act as "inspiration" to talk about innovation. Thus, starting today, I'll be less strict, allowing myself to share, now and then, a few personal thoughts on "innovative" (or "anti-innovative") products/ companies/ practices/ people that have managed to attract my attention somehow.

(Note 1: This is neither a product review nor a sponsored entry; I am not affiliated to the manufacturing company or any other party involved in the marketing of the products below.)

(Note 2: every company name, product brand or product name mentioned below, is property of their respective owner)

On the point now: I recently got into my hands on of those photo-printers for home use. Yes, there are plenty of those. However, I'm referring to the Polaroid PoGo CZU. That is a very special product, which I'm not quite sure if it should be marketed exactly as a photo-printer. Yes, it prints photos from cameras and mobile phones (or other devices that can support PictBridge) through a USB or Bluetooth connection. BUT: You can't connected to a PC, the printouts are fairly small (2''x3'' or approximately 5.1x7.6cm), a bit bigger than most business cards and you can only use the ZINK paper packs from Polaroid.

Having said that, the PoGo printer if FUN to use. It is the only mobile photo printer I am aware of, with dimensions similar to a small external hard drive (weight: 220g), able to fit in your jacket's pocket, having a rechargeable battery that can print about 15 photos per charge. Not to mention that the only consumable it needs it's the paper (the paper compartment can fit 10 sheets) - no ink cartridges needed, as the dye crystals are embedded on the paper.Ah, and it looks sleek (I used the black version - there is also a pink available, which would not exactly fit my taste is colours)! Cost-wise, the printer sells at about EUR 50-55 and the cost per printed photo is about 29p. For a bit more than double the price you can find the faster and much more versatile - but bulkier, non mobile, non cordless - Canon Selphy 780 (cost per 10x15cm printout is approx. 31p), although you may be able to find other similar products at lower prices (especially if you look for discontinued models).

Well, you may say, it is a Polaroid after all, which had a major breakthrough a few decades ago with the instant photo cameras. In the modern era, where the average digital camera owner may shoot over a few hundreds of photos per year, most of which never make it onto paper, a product like the PoGo printer can bring fun to places where it 's difficult or inconvenient to share digital content. The photo paper used features also a shelf-adhesive side, so printouts can be used as stickers. Think of parties, think of decorating notepad covers or backpacks or boxes, etc. Think of holiday time, where printing a couple of shots on the spot could be a good laugh (yes, you can share the 10Mpixel quality original when you return but that's a different thing).

What I find "refreshingly innovative" in that product is that it managed to merge some modern technology with nostalgia.

Do I need to close this entry with advice? Well, the bottom line is sort of obvious: If you need a photo printer for quality printouts at a variety of sizes or on different paper qualities, having fast printing speeds and or if you normally have the digital photos stored in a computer, please look elsewhere: Most inject printers can achieve good photo quality print outs, most multi-machines support PictBridge, and an increasing number of photo-specific printers is hitting the market. If you think that getting small, easy to share, stick-able printouts on the spot from your digital camera or your mobile can be fun, even when you are on the move and away from normal digital conveniences, then go ahead and have a look...

(photos: "Polaroid One-Step", CC by SqueakyMarmot; "Polaroid PoGo being used at its finest", CC by Inhisgrace, respectively)

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