Print on the go with Polaroid PoGo

I met with some folk from Polaroid and PR agency Clarion Communications last Thursday evening to see and talk about the latest product Polaroid has just launched in the UK – the Polaroid PoGo.

This portable device you see pictured here – about the size of an iPod Classic but a bit thicker – is a printer that you’d use to print images from your digital camera or camera phone either via a wireless Bluetooth connection or with a USB cabled PictBridge connection.

And a nifty printer, too, one that contains no ink, no cartridges, no ribbon, just special paper and some clever technology.

I used the PoGo to print some photos from my Nokia N95 8GB via Bluetooth. A few seconds to pair the two devices, send the data from the phone to the printer and, in less than 60 seconds, a printed image.

The printouts are quite small at 2″x3″ (about 5cm x 7.6cm), a bit smaller than a standard-size business card. The quality is good although I would guess that’s largely dependent on your camera resolution.

My N95 has a 5-megapixel camera so PoGo print quality is quite good. I’d guess resolution would be notably less if you had, say, a 2-megapixel camera, quite common on a wide range of camera phones.

Might not be much of an issue with digital cameras where resolutions of 8 megapixels and more are becoming pretty common.

The clever print technology in the Polaroid PoGo is much to do with Zink (‘zero ink’) in which each sheet of paper has colour dye crystals embedded and which convert into the image when heat is applied. You can read more about this technology at the Zink website.

The Zink paper has a peel-off backing which exposes an adhesive, so you can stick your prints anywhere you want.

So who’s the Polaroid PoGo aimed at?

The 16-24 age group, according to Michael Thomas, Polaroid UK’s Senior Product Manager EMEA who I talked with on Thursday. I recorded our conversation which is available here as an 8-minute podcast.

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We also spoke about Polaroid’s plans for other Zink-enabled devices including a combination camera/printer due to launch during Q1 2009.

The Polaroid PoGo launched in the UK on July 3 following its debut in Germany in June. It launches in the US this weekend, available in stores on July 6.

At £99.99 in the UK, it’s an affordable price point, although if we are heading into a recession it may become an early casualty if people become more discretionary. The Zink paper comes in packs of 10 and 30 retailing at £3.99 and £6.99 respectively.

Polaroid US has a polaroidpogo channel on YouTube with video explaining how to use the PoGo. Not that you need a video – I found it simplicity itself.

This one I did like especially, though. Imaginative.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Tom Murphy

    What a very interesting idea. I was only looking through all the camera phone photos I had taken over the last year and wondered what I’d do with them.

    Clever.. I wonder will it catch on
    TM

  2. neville

    It’s a good question, Tom. I think it has very clear appeal as a fun toy, one that you’d use in a spontaneous way among a group of friends.

    Will it catch on? Well, it has a lot going for it: ease of use, portability, relatively low cost. Not sure I could see people carrying it around all the time the way you do with a mobile phone, say. Even though the PoGo is portable, it would weigh down your pocket.

    Still, I think it’s pretty cool!

  3. David

    I am a camera salesmen at a BestBuy in California and was enthusiastic about this nifty little device that showed up yesterday on our shelves. I quickly asked my boss to throw a demo unit out and do some samples which was ok’ed. I took some high resolution shots in the store using some other employees as test subjects. Its worked great until the print came out. It was horrible. The quality (for the price of paper) was not even remotely satisfactory. I gave the little guy another chance (I was going to buy one if it tells you anything), and I printed several of the same shots over again – and to my surprise (again) every one came out a little different. Some were too red, others were almost totally desaturated of color. It seemed like the printer had to “warm up” with several prints before the color was correct. On top of that the prints had ‘banding’ like the ink was running out on an inkjet.

    The price of paper is $5 for 10 prints. That’s – insane. Regardless of its inkless system.

    I tried different, professionally taken pictures supplied by an HP rep. Same results. I give it an “F”. The demo unit had a fake picture coming out of it and I was hoping for something like the advertisement showed.

    I LOVE the idea but the quality I was expecting was something at least close to what my portable Canon Selphy Dye Sub. printers could pull off, and their only 300 dpi. And the canon is only $99 compared to Polaroid’s $150.

    What gives? A bad printer? I wish I could attach scans of the pics it printed.

  4. neville

    Print quality on the Polaroid Pogo {seesmic_video:{“url_thumbnail”:{“value”:”http://t.seesmic.com/thumbnail/lHRQniEMcJ_th1.jpg”}”title”:{“value”:”Print quality on the Polaroid Pogo “}”videoUri”:{“value”:”http://www.seesmic.com/video/XFbpzPjIxZ”}}}

  5. David

    Neville thank you for the comment back. My friends loved watching it. I used the PoGo a bit more today and I think maybe an F was a little harsh, I feel a C- would be more fair. The PoGo, when you consider the market Polaroid was aiming for – actually does what it says. I did test it with a LG EnV2 2.1mp cell phone and it synced beautifully and printed fairly quick. The digital camera I used was a Nikon P80 set for Fine detail and maximum resolution (10mp). I had a Canon 40D at my disposal but figured that would be a little overkill. I did have my expectations a little higher when I saw the advertisement we were given (it was a small billboard). The print quality coming out of the PoGo was excellent according to that. I feel that if the PoGo incorporated a camera, even a basic one; that it would stand apart from the other portable printers more and rekindle the beloved instamatic style cameras. But the price? It needs to be in the $69 range to justify the $5 for 10 prints.

    Thanks!

  6. neville

    Thanks for the follow up comment, David. C- definitely better than an F.

    It’s all about expectations really, isn’t it?

    Re a combination camera/printer, it look as though Polaroid will be launching such a device early in 2009. If you listen to the audio podcast of the conversation I had with Polaroid UK’s Michael Thomas, you’ll hear him talking about this gadget.

    Memories of the SX-70 cameras with those instant prints but right up to date for the digital world!

  7. Albert

    Hi I, unfortunately, got 1 of this PoGo printer last Friday. And like David, was very very disappointed with it. The prints look NOTHING like the samples that it shown on the box itself (talk about false advertisement!). Quality is damn horrible. I’ve tried it with a low res photo taken from a blackberry bold. Then with a couple from an Olympus 810. Then a few from my trusty Canon 5D MarkII at 21.1 both in RAW and JPEG formats. Tried printing continuously 4-5 photos (to c if it works better when it’s warmer). Mate, the blue came out as greenish, the red came out as yellowish. None of the details in the photo came out. Where the subject has a big mole on the face, when the print came out, the subject has a perfectly clean face. Hahaha. Dotted patterns on an insert didn’t came out at all. Edges are blurry. I am going to take this back to shop and ask for a refund.

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