Polaroid: Film & Digital Fun

CES 2011

We like many others mourned the loss of Polaroid classic instant film (our Impossible Project stash is gone). The 600 instant film is something we love to use in our vintage Polaroid cameras and is truly iconic. When we spotted the large Polaroid booth at CES, we could not help but be curious about what they were up to in 2011.

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Of course with all of the commotion around the new Creative Director at Polaroid, Lady Gaga, and our love for our classic Land camera, we made the Grey Label area our first destination at the Polaroid booth. The Grey Label is made up of three items, the GL10 Instant Mobile Printer, GL30 Instant Digital Camera and the GL20 Camera Glasses. We loved the look of the GL10 and GL30, but were not terribly impressed by the GL20. The GL20 camera glasses did not look like anything we would wear and pretty much fell into the category of items that live in a drawer somewhere after their first 48 hours home. The price has not yet been announced for the GL20 glasses and they will be available later this year.

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The GL10 instant printer was set up with ZINK 3X4" paper and was connected to a smartphone at the display. ZINK Paper is an advanced composite material with cyan, yellow, and magenta dye crystals embedded inside. Before printing, the embedded dye crystals are clear, so ZINK Paper, looks like regular white photo paper. The GL10 uses heat to activate and colorize these crystals. We tested the printer by snapping a photo of our iPad case. We did not enjoy using the smartphone to take the image as it was a bit cumbersome. It was very difficult to get the smartphone to understand the correct orientation of the photo, which made it difficult to get the print we desired. It was impossible to re-position which area of the photo we wanted to use in the print or even to rotate the image. We're not sure if this was a problem with the phone, or the printing software. Either way, after several frustrating attempts, we gave up and settled on an image to print.

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The resulting print out of the GL10 was the same shape that we know and love, but did not feel anything like it. The print felt thin, cheap, and flimsy. While it had the classic Polaroid border and was treated to look like the 600 instant print, it really was kind of a sad facsimile. The image had no depth, and the colors looked overly bright in some parts and washed out in others, it reminded us of early digital prints from the dawn of at home digital printing. The smartphone can be blamed for some of this, but we also think this is also due to the printer. While we liked the design of the GL10, we were not very happy with its prints and it just made us miss the classic 600 instant film all that much more. The GL10 will be available in May 2011 for $149.99 MSRP. The ZINK 3x4" Paper will be available in May 2011 at a price to be announced.

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The classic looks of the GL30 camera with its built in printer are sure to capture the heart of many a Polaroid lover. Sadly, we could not play with this model, so we cannot make any comments on its ease of use or print quality. However, If the quality of the prints is anything like the GL10, film cannot make a return soon enough. The concept behind the GL30 is fun, a digital camera with a built in printer, and we think that it will be an attractive item to many (especially the tween set) despite its potentially lackluster print quality. The GL30 will be available later this year, and the price is yet to be announced.

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What we did have much fun playing with at the Polaroid booth and loved the resulting print, was the PIC 300 Instant Camera. This film camera takes business card sized photos that are just like the classic 3X4" but smaller. We used the same subject in the print for the PIC 300 as we did in the GL10 and wow, what a difference. The picture from the PIC 300 looks great, and it captures everything that we loved about the prints from our Land camera just at a smaller scale. The PIC 300 sells for $90 and is available in 3 colors. The instant film is available for $10.

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Tech, 2011, CES

Joelle loves technology and making things and is in an almost perpetual state of problem solving. She's quite fond of airplanes and coffee and is pretty sure she will eventually read all of the books in her library.

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