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Summary:

Polaroid was long the icon for instant photos starting back when all photos were viewed on paper.  How many of us can remember how amazed we were the first time we saw a Polaroid photo appear magically on the print while we fanned it dutifully?  Recently […]

Polaroid_pogo_2Polaroid was long the icon for instant photos starting back when all photos were viewed on paper.  How many of us can remember how amazed we were the first time we saw a Polaroid photo appear magically on the print while we fanned it dutifully?  Recently the end of that era became official when Polaroid announced it would soon no longer be producing instant film.  Digital photography very firmly killed off that market once virtually all cameras in use were of the digital variety.  There’s just not much need for instant film, or even slow film for that matter.

Polaroid didn’t just sit back and go away as they realize that folks still like to print some of those photos to paper.  There have been small photo printers for a good while but none as small as the new portable Polaroid PoGo.  The PoGo is a handheld printer that uses no ink yet prints out 2 x 3 inch photos in a jiffy.  Polaroid uses technology from Zero Ink (ZINK) that prints using special paper that is heat activated.  The tech behind ZINK is best described by Polaroid:

The heart of this new "ZINK" category of printing is the ZINK Paper™.The patented ZINK Paper is an advanced composite material with embeddedyellow, magenta and cyan dye crystals, activated with 200 million heatpulses, in 30 seconds, in a single pass. With 100 billion crystals in a2x3" print, the paper is 100% inkless. A ZINK-enabled printer uses heatto activate and colorize these crystals.

The PoGo can print from phones wirelessly using Bluetooth and from cameras using USB.  The camera phone functionality would be a sweet way to snap a picture of Grandma with the baby and give her a paper print on the spot.  The PoGo went on sale this weekend in the US at Best Buy and Target stores for about $150.

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  1. Wow. I want this.

    I imagen the paper for it is expensive though.

  2. That’s one way to ensure people don’t just cut down photocopier paper…

  3. I’ve been following ZINK for some time and PoGo is the perfect demonstration of why Polaroid has gone down the crapper.

    ZINK is a Polaroid spin off (their address is still on Polaroid’s campus). They had working prototypes in tradeshows spewing out images basically an image every second in a continual reel. They’re waterproof (unlike inkjet prints), writeable or adhesive on the back and supposedly on sale for $20 for 100 pictures worth of paper. That’s MUCH cheaper than polaroid! It opens up the door to photomanipulation and printing right in the field. There are SO MANY creative opportunities and the technology is so small you could build it right into a device. A prototype camera/printer was shown ($200) and there was talk about having one built right into your laptop lid. Products were promised around Christmas last year.

    Fast foward to today and we have a mere pocket printer for $150, with the price of the paper greatly increased. The printer batteries last for 20 prints! Sure you Could use a mains adapter but that rather defeats the point of having a pocket sized printer. A Polaroid 600 film pack has a new battery with every 10 shot pack so you’d ALWAYS have enough power. This is a yuppy toy, not an art medium or the technological breakthrough that would change the way that people thought of mobile devices. All that promise, straight down the drain. To add insult to injury, the ZINK mailing list has not been notified so if you’ve taken the time to show some interest, you’ve still got nothing.

    In summary: miserly pricing, obviously not to compete with Polaroid film, massive wasted potential and impractical in actual use.

  4. I also wonder: What happens if you leave a print exposed to the sun? Will the colors fade or turn all black? If anyone buys this, do a test print and leave it on a windowsill that faces the sun and report back. (And JK/kt, do a follow-up post then!)

  5. JK, I was at Bestbuy yesterday and took a photo of the ZINK photo printer and its paper supply: http://www.flickr.com/photos/inju/2643544456/

  6. The crystals are heat sensitive and not light sensitive. UV should not affect it at all. That said, the polymer covering might go yellow over time. Again the base technology is quite remarkable but Polaroid the company don’t seem to want to explore the possibilities despite the fact they have “over 100 patents” preventing anyone else from exploiting it.

  7. Remember when you had to wipe a goop (fixative) over B&W Polaroid prints? Areas that were missed (easy to do!) wound up fading to nothing over time.

    Ah, just give me a digital camera and time machine and I’ll fix it all right.

    Damn: Now THERE’s an invention! A time-traveling camera!!

  8. Oops. Just remembered, Arthur C. Clarke did that, in a way, in The Light of Other Days.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Light_of_Other_Days

    Brilliant book. Buy & read.

  9. I’m really surprised Polaroid hasn’t jumped on this technology and developed it into an instant camera device. I know for a fact that the movie/film-making industry is still heavily dependent on instant photos for production. But even for consumers, a modern digital equivalent of the old polaroid 600 system would attract buyers.

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