PictBridge connection is straightforward using the cable provided with the camera and selecting images the camera's LCD display. Polaroid says the PoGo will print in under a minute – we saw timed it at just over a minute, but we're not going to quibble. This seems quick, until you remember that PoGo prints are a quarter of the size of 6 x 4 prints from a typical small-format photo printer. Most of these printers can manage the larger print in around two minutes, so they're effectively twice as fast.
Connects to any PictBridge camera...
The second way of connecting the Pogo printer – and, we suspect, the one more likely to be used – is over Bluetooth from a mobile phone. Doing a Bluetooth search using our handset showed the Polaroid printer immediately and the two were paired in a matter of moments. Printing wirelessly took just a few seconds longer than through PictBridge.
So how does it work? Zink paper technology is the basis for this printer. It’s a multi-coated paper, using three different layers of dye crystals sandwiched under a polymer overcoat. The crystals appear colourless until activated by short pulses of heat from the printer's thermal print head. By controlling the length and intensity of the pulses, the print head can activate the cyan, magenta and yellow dyes independently, so creating an almost unlimited range of different hues.
This technique means the paper only needs to make a single pass through the printer for full-colour printing and that all the users needs to do is keep buying more paper.
...or by Bluetooth to phones
It’s really the quality of the prints which currently lets the system down. Instead of the precision you get with modern inkjet and dye-sublimation photo printers, PoGo prints are grainy and fine detail looks blotchy and a bit like the early days of home colour printing. While the print’s small size means we wouldn’t expect to be able to see the same fine detail as in a 5 x 7 or even a 6 x 4 print, even quite large elements can appear indistinct and distended.
Aside from the genius use of not having to send racy snaps off to the photo developer, the Polaroid was largely used in (amazingly enough) the professional studio photography realm back in the film days. Many professional cameras (such as the Mamiya RZ67) had interchangeable backs--one of which would hold medium format film (6x6, 6x7, etc) and another would be a Polaroid back. The polaroids would be used to check exposure, framing, etc, before the final shot was taken on "real" film. This was usually kind of a crapshoot however because of the poor performance of Polaroid film, but it was better than nothing. There are still some applications, for instance google for Joe McNally's "Faces of Ground Zero" project.
I don't have any polaroid backs any longer because I test with a digital SLR before committing to film, but I do still have a couple consumer Polaroid cameras; there's a primitive aesthetic to the system that's occasionally appealing. The film is unfortunately becoming very difficult to come by (being discontinued).
As for the reviewed printer itself--it seems a rather spectacular waste of money. There's no professional use for it, and if I wanted crap quality prints with the mates I'd run down to a photobooth.
...it's an expensive, practically useless piece of junk which doesn't even produce acceptable print quality. And it's SLOW -- one stamp per minute as opposed to three standard-sized pictures from a compact thermo printer that costs the same and is every bit as portable.
a) Wasteful? How do you work that out?
With an inkjet printer, even if you refill the cartridges, you have the cartridge ending up in landfill or using energy to be disassembled and recycled at the end of its life. With dye sub film printers (like Canon's SELPHY range), you have the film and dye, much of which is left on its carrier film and binned. The ZINK technology is completely self-contained in the paper. There's no wastage at all.
c) You're not comparing like with like. You can, of course, share images around electronically, but we're looking at a device for somebody who wants images on paper. You could level the comment at all printers, but its unfair to single out this particular one.
b) and d) Agreed.
I would have expected a review to sport at least one or two pictures of "real world" results instead of just promotion shots.
Zinc has several problems.
a) it is wasteful
b) it is expensive
c) it is easily substituted by sharing around digital data via bluetooth or e-mail
d) the quality sucks
I find the small size especially unappealing. A Polaroid, as mediocre as the overall quality may be, comes with an aesthetic white frame as standard which also provides room for information, while the Zinc paper looks as though it came from inside a bubble gum wrapper.
"The second way of connecting the Pogo printer – and, we suspect, the one more likely to be used – is over Bluetooth from a mobile phone"
Whoopie, now instead of taking a picture of my ass with a friends camera phone, setting as their wall paper I can bluejack their printer and print snaps of it as well.
/Mines the one with the antenna sticking out of the pocket