Top positive review
236 people found this helpful
Early days, but already good value for money
on August 5, 2009
This is an early review (a pre-ordered camera only arrived a couple of days ago) so I've only spent a few hours using it.
Quick summary - in some ways the camera is surprisingly limited, and it's a bit bulky (and very ugly), but this is overshadowed by having a built-in photo-printer at the price of a regular digital camera. It offers the instant-printing of the old Polaroids, but with greatly increased digital flexibility, and lower operating cost.
With an overall thumbs-up in mind, some other notes:
The camera functions are quite basic and bare-bones compared to pocket cameras today, though are more advanced than a cellphone camera. There is no zoom, just "digital zoom". There are too few buttons to operate camera settings on the go without navigating through menus, so if the environment isn't suited to just point-and-click, I'm likely to miss my shot, and if the conditions are too challenging (low light and high movement), I'm likely to fail to get a good shot.
- The camera does turn on quickly though - it takes about two seconds from pressing the ON button to it being ready to take a shot.
- Navigating your photos on the memory card is going to become a problem. Your options seemare just NEXT and PREVIOUS, and once there are thousands of photos on the memory card, that is going to be frustrating. (The ability to print any photo at any time, plus the cheapness of large capacity memory cards means that there is incentive to carry a lot of photos around in this camera)
- The LCD screen is nice and large. I guess that since it's a large camera with a bigger battery because of the printer, you might as well put a well-lit big screen on it.
- I haven't used the video recording or voice memo functions, so can't comment on them.
- On the highest quality settings, 5MP photos are saved as JPEGs at about 700kB. So compression artifacts can be noticeable, but this is not an issue if you are only using the photos for the built-in printer.
The printer... well you can read the reviews of the previous Zink bluetooth printer - it's the same as that. There are no consumables other than the photo paper. The photos are also all stickers, which is really useful. The photo-print quality is mediocre which, given the cost of the consumables and the portable nature of the device, is impressive. I'm quite pleased with it. Loading more paper is far simpler than any polaroid film camera. Simpler than a desktop printer, even.
- The (Zink) paper is cheap compared to polaroid film or to inkjet printing. That's something REALLY nice - the device does not rape you on the price of the consumables, instead, prints are so cheap that you don't need to worry or second-guess yourself before hitting the print button.
- You can print any photo on the camera, as many times as you like, and you have some (very) limited editing functions available. (And since for a few dollars you can put a 4GB memory card in this, you could load it up with a library of thousands of useful photos and graphics and labels that you can print and stick if the need arises, without compromising the ability to use it it as a polaroid camera)
- What should be the most useful of the editing functions is being able to crop the photo before printing it, however the crop operations only zoom and step in large increments, so you can only get a crude approximation of the cropping that you want.
- You can add a decorative border to your photo before printing, from a selection of pre-set border graphics. This would be an astoundingly useful feature if you could edit or create your own borders (it would allow you to include your contact info on photos, for example). It would help even if the supplied borders were less useless. As it is, the feature is as taunting in its potential as it is frustrating in its uselessness. I hope that this will be addressed at some point through software - a utility (to import your own custom-made borders to the camera) should not be difficult to provide.
- The nature of the printer seems to be that colors are offset from each other by ten or so pixels, so if your image is thousands of pixels wide, ten pixels is nothing and the everything is colored correctly, but if your image is hundreds of pixels wide, the colors might be offset by a mm, which looks terrible. So it will print your photos fine, but if you're putting your own graphics onto the memory card, and they're low resolution, consider interpolating them up to photo resolution.
I haven't spent much time with the accessories, but
- The camera case has a useful little pocket in it for photo-paper refills.
- The photo software is a bit buggy.
For the price, I think this is good value with a lot of function. At the same time, it still appears to be early days - I'd expect that in a couple of years, there will be fuller-featured photo-printing-cameras that address most of the shortfallings of this first device. In the meantime, this does the job, at a good price, and hints at the future (while looking like the past).