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Move aside, boring budget cameras. The Polaroid Snap isn't just cheap, it's one of the more entertaining point-and-shoot cameras on the market. That's because, along with saving a 10 megapixel digital file, it also spits out 2x3 instant prints. Factor in the $99 price point, and the Polaroid Snap is certainly catching some big attention.
Polaroid created the instant photo long before social media with film cameras that didn't require a darkroom. Now, in the age of digital cameras, they're building digital cameras that don't require a printer--or even ink. The Polaroid Snap isn't the first of it's kind, but it is the smallest and most compact yet.
The built-in printer uses ZINK® technology. The ZINK paper has color crystals embedded inside, which are activated by heat. Long story short, instead of putting ink down on white paper, the technology heats up paper with built-in ink, with the heat determining what colors are activated, so you end up with a traditional photo created in an untraditional way. Polaroid says the prints are completed in under 60 seconds, and since there's no ink, you can touch them right away without worrying about smudging. Of course, this also means you don't have to buy ink cartridges, and also plays a role in keeping the camera compact. A pack of paper with 100 sheets cost about $30, which means each photo costs a rather affordable $0.30.
While the selling point is obviously the instant prints, the Snap also saves a 10 megapixel digital photo. There's not a whole lot of information about the imaging technology, however, and we haven't yet seen an image taken with this camera. There's no information about the size of the sensor, except that it has 10 megapixels. The lens is an f/2.8, which is excellent for a budget camera. There is no zoom, however. While you can take another photo while one is printing, there aren't any details on speed available either, but it's not a camera meant for fast action.
Unlike traditional point-and-shoot cameras, the Snap doesn't have scene modes. Instead, there's just color modes: color, black and white and vintage. There is a photo booth mode that will snap six photos in ten seconds, and a self timer (for selfies or other delayed shots).
While some are hailing the Snap's minimalist design, others are saying it looks and feels like a toy. For this price point though, we don't expect a sturdy build, and other budget cameras also tend to have a plasticy feel to them. There is no LCD screen, however--so you can't see if the photo is any good or not before you print. A pop-up viewfinder helps you frame the shot, and popping up the viewfinder is also how you turn the camera on.
The Polaroid Snap looks like a fun camera that brings back the joy of having a physical photo to hold, instantly. But the Snap isn't the only digital camera with instant prints. The Polaroid Socialmatic is a larger version of the Snap, but offers quite a bit more. The Socialmatic does have a touchscreen at the back (so you can check for blinks and other blunders before actually deciding to print). The Socialmatic also has built-in wi-fi, so you can send a photo right to your phone and also share a digital file instantly, instead of waiting until you have time to upload to your computer to share on social networks. And the Socialmatic still offers instant 2x3 photos with ZINK. Of course, those features make the camera a bit bulkier and more expensive at about $300. (It's also worth noting that there's a $130 ZINK printer that can be used with any wi-fi equipped camera and a smartphone or tablet).
The Polaroid Snap is expected out sometime in 2015 for a very nice $99.