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Review: Polaroid’s ZIP Instant Photo Printer is the Perfect Pocket Companion

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The Polaroid ZIP is an instant photo printer designed for printing out your favorite snapshots on the run; we got a chance to play around with one, and, to be frank, we are quite reluctant to send it back – we are having too much fun. The ZIP was designed to make use of ZINK zero ink paper and works with both iOS and Android smartphones via Bluetooth or NFC technology to create 2″ x 3” full-color prints.

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The lightweight instant photo printer weighs in at only .41 lbs. and easily fits into a pocket with its compact size of 2.91” x 4.72”. As someone who enjoys the ability to create instant physical photographs, I carry around a Fujifilm Instax 90; the ZIP brought forward an entirely different enjoyable experience.

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While instant cameras can be fun for snapping the right moments, it is inevitable that you will eventually snap a photograph that you wish you hadn’t, and before you know it, you just wasted a piece of expensive film. The Polaroid ZIP is another story, being able to take photographs with a camera, then review it before printing is a fantastic luxury.

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Polaroid advertises that pictures print in less than 60 seconds, and while we agree, you will be waiting close to that minute in quite a few instances. What is fascinating is that the time to send the photograph to the printer takes longer than the actual printing process. While this does weigh down the process a bit, it isn’t a killer for instant printing gratification.

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Images produced by the unit are 2”x3”, a bit smaller than the standard wallet size print but are still a joy to carry around. There is nothing more romantic than snapping a picture of yourself and your significant other, than the two of you carrying each other’s photograph around.

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ZINK zero ink paper is what makes this magical little white box possible. Each piece of ZINK paper contains multiple layers of cyan, yellow, and magenta dye crystals. When heated to high temperatures by the ZIP printer, a photograph is formed upon the paper and protected by the top gloss overcoat.

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You should note that your photographs won’t be printing out perfectly though. Many of the images we printed were slightly faded – lacking in contrast and vibrance. The smartphone application does offer a few options to tweak the contrast and brightness, along with auto-exposure; however, we never could get the exact color profile we wanted. That being said, printing out masterpieces aren’t the point of Polaroid’s ZIP printer. The ability to share your favorite snapshots with friends and family is truly what make the unit unique.

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The application provided for iOS and Android work quite well, with the abilities to quickly create photographs, add stickers, or put together mini-collages. To get started, just pair the ZIP printer with your device, then launch the application to print your selection. If you have an Android device, you can use NFC for quick pairing. Polaroid claims that the battery life lasts up to 25 prints; we were able to obtain a similar number at 22 prints before having to recharge the unit via the included USB cable.

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The Polaroid ZIP costs $129 and can be picked up from Amazon and other authorized Polaroid retailers. A fifty pack of ZINK photo paper will set you back around $25, which is less than 50 cents an image. Compared to other solutions, such as Fujifilm’s Instax film, which runs around $40 for the same fifty pack amount – it is not a bad deal.

If you are looking for instant photo gratification, we believe the Polaroid ZIP is an excellent purchase. Both the device and paper are affordable, and help contribute to a fun social experience.

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