There’s a huge irony with photographs: we’re all taking more than ever before, but few of us are displaying them in public. Instead, they collect likes and digital dust on Facebook and Instagram until TimeHop reminds us of that fantastic day we had a year or two ago.
One of the key reasons for this is that our habits have significantly changed. For a long time, images were analog, and developing them needed a trip to the store. Then, in the digital age, they required a procedure that included taking the photo, connecting the camera to your computer, copying the photos into a program, connecting a printer, and crossing your fingers that what printed looked something like the shot you took. When you factor in the hassle of conserving printer ink, it’s simple to see why we’ve all lost interest in keeping actual copies of our images. Without a doubt, capturing a picture in a split second and sending it to social media with a few taps has become the favored technique. Even so, there’s nothing like holding a real photograph in your hands.
With its new printer, the Polaroid ZIP, Polaroid hopes to combine the best of both worlds. You can use the Polaroid app to connect to the printer through Bluetooth or NFC and print images instantaneously. On 2-by-3-inch sheets of paper, the app may print single photographs or mini-collages. Yes, it’s small, but these are supposed to be shared immediately and hung on the bottom of your computer monitor or refrigerator, rather than on your wall. The goal is to have a small, physical copy of the photo you just took right away. I’d recommend Fracture instead if you’re searching for a good way to hang your prettier images on your wall.
The ZIP has three features that make it more useful than standard printers: It’s lightweight, has a rechargeable battery, and doesn’t need ink. All modern-day electronics have become more portable and feature rechargeable batteries. They’re still wonderful to have in a printer like this, but the ZIP’s inklessness is what makes it stand out. The ZIP uses heat instead of ink to burn your image into a piece of zink paper. As a result, you can touch the photo without concern of ruining it. This is a significant victory. How many photos have you damaged because you touched photo paper before it was completely dry? It also makes this device more kid-friendly, as they aren’t accustomed to having to wait.
Polaroid’s ZIP isn’t perfect for everyone, but it does its best to bridge the digital and analog divide by combining the best of both worlds. You get an actual wallet-sized photo to share with friends or put on your fridge before forgetting about it, and there are no smudges or toner to worry about. The greatest disadvantage I see is that the paper it utilizes is proprietary, so you’ll have to purchase additional sheets. Thankfully, they’re reasonably priced, and half of the fun is choose which photos to print. Instead of renting a picture booth, I can see this becoming a big success at birthday parties.
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