The Polaroid name lives on, synonymous with photo prints. Now Polaroid has integrated its PoGo portable instant printer into the body of a digital camera, in the form of the Polaroid PoGo Instant Digital Camera. It's yet to launch in the UK, but it's expected to launch here in April under the working title of the Polaroid 2 digital camera.

Unfortunately, we found the camera's design and image quality sorely lacking: the reborn, digital Polaroid Pogo Instant Digital Camera is reminiscent of the clunky, poor-quality devices of yesteryear that nonetheless made Polaroid a household name. It's a shame that this camera falls short: in concept, at least, the device is innovative. But poor imaging and unattractive design not unlike that of 1.1Mp cameras of a dozen years ago make the PoGo Instant Digital Camera a disappointment.

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In size, shape, and weight, the boxy Instant Digital Camera closely matches the PoGo instant printer, only with an optical element on one side and the necessary buttons and LCD screen on the other. While the PoGo works well enough as a pocket-size printer, that same design fails miserably as a camera. It's very heavy compared with other point-and-shoot cameras, and it has poor ergonomics (no grip to hold on to, no logic to the placement or organisation of the keys).

The basic spec disappoints even more than the unit's physical design. This camera offers 5Mp, a count that's completely out of line with today's 10Mp norm for point-and-shoots. So from the start this digital camera is at a disadvantage, as it can't substitute for your regular one if you want to continue capturing high-quality images.

And the images we got from this camera underwhelmed, even when compared with 4Mp images from an old Canon point-and-shoot. Viewed on a computer, the Instant Digital Camera's photos lacked sufficient sharpness, colour accuracy, and detail. The camera has a variety of scene modes - fireworks, snow, and portrait among them - but given its image quality, we can't see why anyone who would go to the trouble of selecting scene modes (presumably, to capture a good picture) would want to use this camera. Curiously, the menus offer shooting tips under the different scene modes (for night shots, the tip suggests that you hold the camera steady).

NEXT PAGE: printed output

The Polaroid name lives on, synonymous with photo prints. Now Polaroid has integrated its PoGo portable instant printer into the body of a digital camera, in the form of the Polaroid PoGo Instant Digital Camera. It's yet to launch in the UK, but it's expected to launch here in April under the working title of the Polaroid 2 digital camera.

The printed output was a mixed bag. The built-in printer couldn't work miracles and do anything to improve the images taken by the camera itself; what we photographed as red ended up looking more like a washed-out pink, and a brilliant blue sky became a muddied and mottled gray.

This camera's one saving grace, however, is that potentially it can recognise images taken by other cameras stored on an SD Card, and print those images, too. (We say "potentially" because in tests it recognised other cameras' Jpeg photos inconsistently - the ability is not a given, so you shouldn't purchase the camera just for that function.) A print of a stored 10Mp image showed more detail and far better color reproduction than prints of the Instant Digital Camera's own images. That alone leads us to lay the blame for the Instant Digital Camera's mediocrity on its imager, not on its printer.

The printer here functions similarly to the earlier PoGo. You pop open the LCD back of the camera and slide in a ten-pack of special printer paper (in the US these cost $5, or about £3.50, per pack). The printer uses Zink, the zero-ink technology Polaroid pioneered (Polaroid's parent company has since spun off Zink into a separate subsidiary). The thermal printhead activates the 100 billion dye crystals embedded in Polaroid's proprietary, glossy photo paper (peel away the back, and your photo becomes a sticker). Sheets of the 2x3in media are thinner than old Polaroid print paper and contain three layers of primary colours suspended within.

Ultimately, if you covet the instant and fun prints that Zink technology enables, we'd recommend the Polaroid PoGo printer - which has seen some dramatic price cuts since it debuted last year - over the Polaroid Instant Digital Camera. It currently costs $199 in the US and is expected to cost around €249 when it launches in the UK in April.

PC World.com

Polaroid PoGo Instant Digital Camera: Specs

  • 5.0Mp digital camera
  • 3in colour LCD
  • 4x digital zoom
  • SD compatible
  • rechargeable lithium-ion battery
  • 2x3in sticky-back prints
  • view and crop images on camera before printing
  • option to print date and file number
  • claimed print time: about 40 secs
  • claimed battery life: up to 20 photos per full charge
  • 119x51x76mm
  • 283g (without battery, memory card or photo paper)
  • 5.0Mp digital camera
  • 3in colour LCD
  • 4x digital zoom
  • SD compatible
  • rechargeable lithium-ion battery
  • 2x3in sticky-back prints
  • view and crop images on camera before printing
  • option to print date and file number
  • claimed print time: about 40 secs
  • claimed battery life: up to 20 photos per full charge
  • 119x51x76mm
  • 283g (without battery, memory card or photo paper)

OUR VERDICT

Ultimately, if you covet the instant and fun prints that Zink technology enables, we'd recommend the Polaroid PoGo printer over this. In concept, at least, the device is innovative. But poor imaging and unattractive design make the PoGo Instant Digital Camera a disappointment.

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