A colour printer for £20 that fits into your pocket and doesn’t require any ink? No, I didn’t believe it either but I have stumbled upon a palm-sized printer made by Polaroid that puts the fun back into digital photography. This product has been around for a couple of years now but the price has dropped so much it seems silly not to buy one. In this quick summary I take a look at the pros and the cons of this fun Christmas gadget.
One of the things I always regretted was not buying a post-card printer for the boat. We meet and photograph so many people along our travels that it would be nice to give something back. We have met a number of liveaboards who have such printers and I always coveted one, but the price of the printer, powering it, and the cost of the ink and paper as well as the availability of said materials always made it prohibitive.
Whilst cruising around the net purchasing various gadgets for the camera I came across a palm-sized printer made by Polaroid called the Pogo. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw this image:
Next to it was the price: £20.
And then the spec: no ink required.
So what’s the catch?
Well the first thing is that this only produces prints 2×3 inches big. That’s pretty small and it’d take a while to fill up a photo album. The second catch is that the special paper does have a shelf life. Although the sheets work out at around 12p a print, you can’t buy too many and keep them under the bunk for a few months because they ‘go off’. The third catch is that the quality isn’t professional. I use the word ‘professional’ carefully because for a £20 hand-held printer what were you expecting?
I just wanted to get the cons out the way so I could wax lyrical about how great this little toy is. It now means that I can walk around town, take a snap, plug it directly into my digital camera and print a picture off wherever I want. Better still, if I take a picture with my phone I can send the picture via Bluetooth. Phone in one pocket, printer in the other, no cables. Simple.
The printer runs on a lithium battery that lasts for around 10 prints and can be charged by plugging the USB cable into the laptop. It holds a number of special thermo-paper sheets using Zink technology (zero ink). I plug it straight into my Canon G9 (or my 30D for that matter) and print directly from the camera, or I use my Bluetooth phone. Providing your camera supports PictBridge or Bluetooth and shoots in jpeg (it won’t print RAW) you can be presenting a kid his portrait within 2 minutes of taking it. It harks back to the original Polaroid camera. Oh, the sheets have a peelable back, making your snaps into stickers, and the prints are smudge-proof, non-fading and water resistant.
I’ve put together a very simple video clip of how the Pogo receives an image from a Bluetooth camera phone.
Basically this is a fun little gadget so don’t expect too much from it. The print quality does seem to suffer from streaks on random prints, which is a little frustrating. However you should expect it to be the talking piece when from one pocket you take a picture and from the other you print out the result, all within minutes. At £20 this is either an expensive stocking filler or an extremely cheap solution to giving out gifts to the kids we meet and photograph regularly. I can’t wait to get back to India and see the fascination on the children’s faces. Print quality aside, I love it.
Buy it cheap from Misco.
Look out for the Polaroid Pogo camera. It’s the obvious step forward for this product and is like a digital version of the old Polaroid with the slick looks of the Pogo printer.