Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Printer Hardware

Polaroid: This Time It's Digital 176

Posted by Soulskill
from the who-doesn't-enjoy-voluminous-gadgets dept.
MrSeb writes "Long before Facebook and Twitpic, photos were shared by simply handing someone a print. No camera made this easier than the once-ubiquitous Polaroid. Nothing represented instant gratification better in the film era than having a print develop before your eyes, ready to hand out in a minute. Unfortunately for Polaroid, the advent of digital photography sounded the death knell for its iconic instant print cameras. A brief reprieve in the form of inexpensive sticker-printing versions was ended by the cellphone camera revolution. Now, after a decade in remission, Polaroid has returned with a full-up digital camera that incorporates instant printing technology. The Polaroid Z340 is a 14MP digital with an integrated Zink-enabled (Zero Ink) printer. In a nostalgic touch, the new camera prints 3×4-inch images, the same size as the original Polaroid film cameras. Remarkably, all this fits in a one-pound, seven-ounce package, about the same weight as a mid-range DSLR."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Polaroid: This Time It's Digital

Comments Filter:
  • by jbolden (176878) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @08:33PM (#37993382) Homepage

    That sounds good and I'm glad they're back. Though I wonder if coming back with an old fashioned analog polaroid might not sell as well. "The polaroid" was a name for a type of picture, a digital print isn't going to feel that unique.

    • by hedwards (940851)

      I'm surprised that anybody's trying this. I remember Kodak trying something similar a decade or so back with a dual digital film camera. Arguably that makes more sense as film does have some advantages over purely digital.

      This OTOH brings very little to the party that an eyeFi and wireless printer doesn't.

      • by muridae (966931) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @09:01PM (#37993622)
        Other than a printer that doesn't use ink or ribbon cartridges? That should be the real lead to this story "Dead camera company brings ink-less printer to market, attaches overpriced camera to it to make sure they keep their name."
        • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @09:27PM (#37993868) Journal
          Unfortunately, 'ZINK' is "zero ink" in the sense that "the necessary dyes or precursors are embedded in our unique proprietary paper and then heat-activated by the printer".

          Technologically speaking, 'ZINK' is substantially more advanced than your basic monochrome thermal printer, as seen in most label and receipt printers everywhere, and I give their tech guys full credit; but I cannot help but be extremely unimpressed by the likely value proposition of a printer where you have to buy the manufacturer's proprietary paper(and in the correct size for your mobile gimmick widget, unless you feel like doing some cutting). At present the stuff isn't cheap and either due to limited market or patents on the paper technology, no generic compatibles appear to exist...
          • by syousef (465911) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @12:12AM (#37995402) Journal

            At present the stuff isn't cheap and either due to limited market or patents on the paper technology, no generic compatibles appear to exist...

            Nor are they likely to....

            http://www.zink.com/how-zink-works [zink.com]
            "ZINK was developed over several years and has generated an IP portfolio that includes over 100 patents and patents pending"

            There's more on the page about patents and registered trademarks than the tech itself. Tell me again how IP law encourages creativity? This will be tied up for decades, which won't allow it to take off.

            • Well, in 14 years when all the patents expire everyone else will be able to make generic versions and it'll take off. Or did you expect them to do a bunch of research for free?

            • by operagost (62405)

              There's more on the page about patents and registered trademarks than the tech itself. Tell me again how IP law encourages creativity?

              It wouldn't have been created in the first place if the company wasn't able to make money off of it. You see, when a company wants to create something new, they often spend millions of dollars on R&D. Who's going to do that if someone else clones the product within a few months, before they've even recouped their costs? The length and scope of patents is arguable; th

          • did you ever have one of those Polaroid instant cameras? Ever buy the SX-70 film/battery packs for it?
            I remember 10 or 12 pictures to a pack at a cost of dollars per picture.
            I'm sure that the "Special" paper will be a similar deal and take off like a lead ballon, but it's been the way Polaroid does business for a long time now.
            It's also the kind of thinking that will probably not pave a golden future for the company.

            now, get the hell off of my lawn.

            • by jbolden (176878)

              This story made me look on ebay. The cameras are essentially free and you can get Fuji film for about a dollar a picture....

            • You know why I finally spent thousands on a DSLR, lenses, flashes, and so forth?

              Because tech -- host computers, sensors, camera hardware -- had finally advanced far enough so that I wouldn't ever have to [make a / order a / send for a] print again.

              Now Polaroid wants to sell me a camera that... that...

              ...prints.

              BWHAHAAHAHAH

      • by icebike (68054) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @09:12PM (#37993714)

        Not only are some trying it, but Polaroid is not alone.

        The linked site contains a link to Zero Ink, which shows other products on the market.
        Some of them, like the Tomy Xaio look a little more appealing than the Polaroid.
        http://www.zink.com/TOMY-xiao [zink.com]

        I suspect there is a market for this, but probably not in digitally savvy countries where
        everyone has a smartphone and can email the picture and put it on facebook before the
        Polaroid can even print out a single copy.

        Presumably these devices retain a digital image, so that capability may be added
        just in time for the whole idea to go bust again.

        • I suspect there is a market for this, but probably not in digitally savvy countries where everyone has a smartphone and can email the picture and put it on facebook before the Polaroid can even print out a single copy.

          Except the United States market isn't so "digitally savvy". Here, a typical smartphone plan runs $70 per month, and even the cheapest plans from Virgin Mobile are $35 per month, compared to dumbphone plans that start at $7 per month. Someone who doesn't print a lot of photos might come out ahead by buying a dumbphone and a separate printing camera as opposed to a smartphone.

          • by Reziac (43301) *

            Virgin now has some deal with Sprint for a prepaid phone with limited phone minutes but 1Mbit unlimited (data) internet access, tetherable at no extra charge, for $25/mo. prepaid and no contract. Friend just got this. Maybe it's a sign that the US's ridiculous rates might be coming down.

        • Also it's so that Roy Batty can chew out Leon for leaving behind his precious photos.

      • by badboy_tw2002 (524611) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @09:14PM (#37993724)

        Its what you DON'T bring to the party that matters - that is, a wireless printer. Instant printing has a niche at some types of events, so I can see this filling that. Sure, you can bring a printer with you. You could also bring a laptop with you. That isn't the point of this.

        • by hedwards (940851)

          Yes and in the process you add bulk an an additional component that can break down. Plus, you're limited to a tiny print compared with a small printer. There may very well be a niche, but I can't imagine it being a worthwhile endeavor in that form factor.

        • My Zink 'PoGo' printer is rechargeable, fits the pocket, and works with most digital cameras. 2"x3" prints are tiny, but better than most for albums. No idea how stable yet.
      • by jbolden (176878)

        The name Polaroid and many decades of being used for candids. Polaroid has instant credibility as the company for instant pictures. Having the two things connected creates the immediacy which is different than:

        take picture -> go home to printer -> get supplies -> print on right paper -> show of pictures.

        • How important is the instant photo now though? I take a picture on my mobile phone, and I can show it to people instantly on the screen. I can send a copy of it to any bluetooth enabled phone nearby if they want a copy (can this camera print multiple copies? That's something the original polaroids lacked). For sharing later, I can put them online. The advantage of instant prints went away with cameras with built-in displays.
          • by jbolden (176878)

            I would love the advantage of physical film. It is important to be just be able to pass them around, or to hold a stack or have different people looking at different pictures. Actual film feels better than a digital image. I don't know if it feels $1-3 per picture better.

          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            I can send a copy of it to any bluetooth enabled phone nearby if they want a copy (can this camera print multiple copies? That's something the original polaroids lacked). For sharing later, I can put them online.

            Huh? My phone isn't even a smartphone, but it will take passable pictures (on a par with the 16mm single-focus disposable cameras everyone used to use), send them to another Bluetooth-enabled phone (bluetooth is great for getting them in your PC, as long as I use the Linux computer, Win7 doesn't see

    • by uniquename72 (1169497) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @09:16PM (#37993756)
      There already is an analog Polaroid available. Its called the impossible project, and their store in Vienna was packed when I was there a few weeks ago.
    • by iamhassi (659463)
      I have to agree, I'm glad to see another instant Polaroid, but $300 + $20 paper? Seems like the camera should be $99 and they could make the money off the paper.

      I'd buy it for $99 and I'm sure I'd end up buying more paper than I'm willing to admit, but at $300 I will never buy this camera. Ever. $300 is a brand new top-of-the-line smartphone, why would I spend that kind of $$$$ on a camera with "poor image quality"? [extremetech.com] A $300 smartphone would take better photos AND I can instantly post them online and s
      • by MightyYar (622222)

        Yeah, the cost is out of control. $300 gets you a nice point-and-shoot. $20 gets you over 60 instant prints from the machine at Walgreens/CVS and over 200 prints at Snapfish.

        • by timeOday (582209)
          Wait, what's this about $20 paper? It's $4.67 for 30 sheets [amazon.com] at amazon. (No doubt it will be 3x that at any National Park, just like the good old days :) A camera is $180 [amazon.com], or $39 [amazon.com] for a standalone pocket-sized printer.

          I don't suppose I'll run out and buy one, since I have no use for prints anyways. Actually I agree they should be able to do a $100 camera if the printer is only $39. But even so the prices don't seem unreasonable, if somebody wanted the capability.

          • by Bifurcati (699683)
            Actually, that's for the PoGo (smaller 2x3" prints). I've got one, and it's excellent - perfect for travelling to remote areas of the world and leaving families with photos of their kids!
      • by hairyfeet (841228)

        Hell its even worse than that. Everybody here knows the niche for something like that would be parties, where you could just snap off a pic of friends and hand it to them. well this thing only lets you print 25 pics and then the printer part, the ONLY real selling point this thing has because as your link explains it isn't even as good a picture as the newer smartphones, is kaput. dead, toast.

        WTF good is that? 25 pics? sure it says it can also save another 75 in memory before it goes completely dead, but if

      • All they need now is for Barry Manilow to write a jingle for it. [youtube.com]

      • by jbolden (176878)

        I agree $300 is much too high. Especially since you can get a real Polaroid for almost nothing on ebay plus the film is still about the same price...

      • by Luckyo (1726890)

        Brand new top of the line smartphone is 600+. Anything below this is a subsidy which you pay in monthly installments.

        • by iamhassi (659463)
          A smartphone without the monthly fee is a paperweight, you might as well get the subsidized model and save a few hundred dollars since the monthly fee is exactly the same whether you're in a contract or not.
          • by jbolden (176878)

            I get the subsidies and often sell the phones if I don't need them. NIB phones do well on ebay.

          • by Luckyo (1726890)

            That would depend on how shitty your country's operators (and competition) is. In mine (Finland), I buy a smartphone, and my 1mbit/1mbit unlimited 3G data plan comes free with my 39€/month 24/1 ADSL2+ line.

            Granted I do pay about double per minute and text message then I would if I got a separate 3G line with same data plan, and that would set me back about 10€/month, but I use less then that on calls and text messages at the moment.

    • by Ihmhi (1206036)

      This is a slashvertisement... and I'm okay with it. I really am. I have a very, very old Polaroid that probably doesn't work, but it sits on a shelf in my room just because it looks so fucking cool. Kids will be able to know the joy of instant photography again! Hooray!

      I really hope more companies do stuff like this. Take a look at some of the greatest bits of culture and technology we've ever had (but have become obsolete) and apply modern technology to make it fit in today's world.

      • by Joce640k (829181)

        Yep, the whiners above simply don't get it.

        You can snap a picture and hand it to somebody. Maybe even write something on the back. With a pen.

    • by Chrisq (894406)
      I'm old enough to remember when a screenshot meant using one of these [ebay.co.uk]
  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @08:36PM (#37993410)

    I have a soft spot for Polaroid cameras, having grown up back when they were all the rage (just after the dinosaurs died). The Land Camera was a lot of fun, back in the day. But, really, the only thing unique about this new camera is the printing, and no one wants to do that anymore.

    The whole point of printing, way back then, was simply because it was the only way to share your images. That's no longer an issue. Even my mom's phone can send and receive photos. A print can only be shared with one person, while a digital image can be shared with an arbitrary number of people. There's just no advantage to being able to instantly print in this form factor.

    • by hedwards (940851)

      I mostly agree. There are a few niche uses where having instant print out is useful, but I doubt very much that there's enough of a market for this to make it worthwhile. And most of those uses are ones where having a separate printer would be adequately satisfactory.

      • by icebike (68054)

        Medical uses may be the exception. A print copy in the file that can be looked at without a computer may be very useful in dentistry or plastic surgery. Separate printers add complexity. Dropping the print in the doctors lap makes sense.
        I'm sure there are a few more corner cases.

        • by green1 (322787)

          Have you worked in a modern medical facility? nobody looks at pictures or diagnostic imagery in physical form anymore. Gone are the days of the x-ray snapped to the light panel on the wall. Everything is done on computers.

          I agree there may be a niche for this, but the one you suggest just isn't it.

          • Oh, printers are useful in medicine. The problem (for Polaroid) is that everybody has color printers (a stupid decision in and of itself, but I digress). I take pictures of medical stuff all the time - documenting the size of laceration repairs, extent of an infection, etc. I just email them to my hospital address and print it on the ward.

            Surgery has a camera with a wireless link that prints automagically.

            So even in institutions stuck with paper charts, there are a bunch of ways of printing a digital fil

            • The only thing printed in my dental office was my crown, on a 3d carving tool in about 15 minutes.

              Well, that and the bill.
          • You seriously have no idea what you're talking about. We just built a state of the art cancer treatment facility and had to install a half-dozen light boxes. Why? Because pre-existing patients frequently have films that have not yet been digitized.

    • by westyvw (653833)

      I disagree. This is exactly what my mom would be looking for. She doesn't like the camera on the phone - its not familiar and feels foreign (a phones a phone not a camera). She doesn't like that digital photos are only on digital devices, why wait for a computer to start up or a disc to load? She wants to take a picture, hold it in her hand, talk about it, and have it available to look at instantly later. She can organize her photos in a physical way, in a photo album or shoe box. She can take it to the nei

      • by icebike (68054)

        Your mom may still prefer a print, but it ends there.

        You will show your guests the phone, or print it wirelessly to the printer in the next room.

        Your kids will push the live video from their phone direct to the bigscreen on the wall and directly to the guests phone.

        In each case the older generation with be thought to be hopelessly out of touch.

        Your mom at least will leave you the shoebox. Most of your photos will die with your phone.

    • by owlnation (858981)

      There's just no advantage to being able to instantly print in this form factor.

      I've no idea why you've been modded up, because what you are saying is FAR from true. The lack of polaroid instant prints was a real hassle for a lot of people. Not the least in the movie industry, where it's often necessary for art, costume and make-up depts to have prints to refer to. Yes they can use small printers back in their trailers, but that's a real hassle on set.

      I'm sure there's plenty of other people who find hav

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      There's just no advantage to being able to instantly print in this form factor.

      You, sir, are suffering from a blinkered imagination.

  • by rolfwind (528248) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @08:39PM (#37993436)

    My first temptation was to scoff and say this is the digital age, why print them out.

    Then I remembered 2 years ago, I got my dad this sony dyesub (Sony DPP-FP95, I think 97 is the newest). It prints pics perfectly, as good as the store. And because it's dyesub, it's superior to inkjet in every way: the dots blend together and aren't discrete, it has a clearcoat so no smudging, and the toner is dry on plastic so no printhead to dry out after a period of nonuse. It's the first digital gadget he really uses and actually loves: after every damn trip he sits down and make pics after pics. I know, I get sent a packet every so often with the sony branding.

    If this polaroid is the same way, good on them. I can barely keep my digital pics organized, I don't expect older people to really grok photo organizing software either.

    • That's ok, I am going to scoff at the new polaroid. One area where they sold a lot of film was the construction industry. You'd go out to bid on a job and you'd take 2-3 pictures to show where equipment was going to go. Didn't need a great picture and didn't have time to go get film developed. It was a great way to get things done. While I'm sure some people will love these new cameras (mostly grandparents and children, I think), I just don't think the volume will be there. On the other hand, it's not

    • The problem comes when your dye-sublimation printer is also dye-subliminal: due to a flaky network connection, it quickly appears and disappears in your operating system's list of available printers. I seem to remember reading reviews in MacUser about such printers.
  • Not all of us, that remember the Polaroid fondly, are dead yet :) It may be a small market. And shrinking, most assuredly. But if there's money to be made.....

  • by mariushm (1022195) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @08:56PM (#37993550)

    Unfortunately, at 20$ for 30 sheets of the special photo paper it needs, I don't see it being successful.

    I guess they're probably trying to use the classic inkjet printer selling scheme, where the printer is cheap but the cartridges are expensive... though their camera is 300$.

    It can also print just 25 photos with its battery which is not clear if it's removable or not - strange number considering the paper is sold in packs of 30.

    • Its the old hot dogs vs hot dog buns thing...

    • by mattack2 (1165421)

      I guess they're probably trying to use the classic inkjet printer selling scheme, where the printer is cheap but the cartridges are expensive...

      That's funny, because the typical example of that paradigm is Gillette, and that example is much older. I'd be interested to hear if there is an even earlier widespread use of that paradigm. (OK, according to wikipedia, he only started that after the competitors did... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Razor_and_blades_business_model [wikipedia.org])

      • by mariushm (1022195)

        With Gillette blades, you only have to change one when it starts to bother you. For some it's once every two weeks or so, for me it's once every 2-3 months. And it's basically a few meters walk to where you store them.

        With this camera, it's not like you're going to carry 20 packs of paper in your backpack every day... the purpose of the camera's gimmick, the integrated printer, is no longer there.

        If you do plan on actually carrying photo paper, you'd have to get extra batteries because as they say it can on

        • The purpose of this camera is to show off the printer. The printer is about the size of a floppy drive. It's something that you can throw into a camera bag, or throw in with your luggage on a trip. It's meant for "quick and dirty" printouts, not high end stuff.
    • by Animats (122034)

      Unfortunately, at 20$ for 30 sheets of the special (3"x4") photo paper it needs, I don't see it being successful.

      Especially since the price for 40 sheets of 4"x6" ZINK paper for the PanDigital printer is $15.99, or better than 1/3 the price per unit area.

  • There is no Polaroid (Score:5, Informative)

    by El Puerco Loco (31491) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @09:34PM (#37993964)

    It's just a brand name now that's licensed out. Edwin Land's company is long gone.

  • Might be useful in niche markets such as film & television. Polaroids were often used to ensure continuity between takes and after breaks - take a picture of the actor before stopping and use it as a comparison point when it's time to get going again. Could use digital but this would just be easier.

    • Stanley Kubrick made good use of Polaroids when he was making 2001: A Space Odyssey because taking test shots and waiting for them to be developed took up lots of time. He had his photographers make up charts with Polaroid pictures on one side and Technicolor shots on the other so that he could get colours right faster. (You'll find this in the book on the making of the film.)
      • So you take an iPad (or a Android tablet) take the picture, store it away, take the continuity shot and check it. Hell, you could even write custom software to keep track of the metadata that typically got scribbled on the back.

        The iPad, at least, has decent color fidelity. Better than an old Polaroid, especially under wonky lighting conditions.

        I think your workflow would be much easier today than in years past.

    • by syousef (465911)

      Might be useful in niche markets such as film & television. Polaroids were often used to ensure continuity between takes and after breaks - take a picture of the actor before stopping and use it as a comparison point when it's time to get going again. Could use digital but this would just be easier.

      A nice cheap 42" TV screen is going to be quicker, cheaper and more effective as it will highlight every flaw in the before picture nicely. You can get something suitable for $400 in Australia. I imagine much cheaper in the US.

      • by Lev13than (581686)

        Because makeup artists working out of a tackle box-sized makeup kit in a random alleyway on a location shoot have room for a 42" TV?

  • http://www.pandigital.net/search.asp?Mode=Product&TypeID=26&ProductID=30 [pandigital.net]
    $.40 per 4x6. That's expensive as hell. I'll keep my color laser that costs me about $.14 per page for 8x11.
    Or go to Walmart and borrow their dye sub printer for really nice 4x6's for less than a dime.
    http://www.walmart.com/ip/High-Quality-4x6-Prints/5019648 [walmart.com]

  • Ad (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jiro (131519) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @11:42PM (#37995192)

    A statement of the form "nothing makes it easier than (brand)" is ad copy. It's a statement which means "we can't say it's better than the others, so we're going to make a statement which implies it's better than the others while it may only mean that all brands are basically the same" (after all, if they're the same, then nothing else is better).

  • An option (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Isn't it cheaper and easier just to freeze your relatives in carbonite? That way you can preserve your memories forever and avoid all the nasty Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.

  • This is so sad, at the right price this could transform the market. Even the tiny old (2"x3") prints are really fun, and nearly everyone is amazed at the simplicity of the system.
    Without the patent the market price would be 1p-5p a print and would be worth billions. With the patent and 50p for a print it is a total flop.

  • Thought this was cool until I saw the picture, obviously they are using the same industrial designers as back in the 60's.
  • So, how much does the ZINK paper cost? I imagine it's probably not exactly cheap. . . give away the printer, sell the ink^h^h^h^h paper.

    I think one of the things that did the classic polaroid in was that those insta-developing glossy photos were pretty expensive. I don't fully recall, but seems like the cartridges of polaroid "film" were something like a dollar per picture or maybe a bit more. I mean, that's not completely out of reach of the public, of course, but with a $200 digital camera you can take th

Real programs don't eat cache.

Working...