Polaroid Zip Review
The Polaroid Zip quickly “zips” out prints, though their quality is questionable.
- Super easy to take with you
- No need for ink cartridges
- Battery is easily rechargeable
- Comes with some starter paper
- Decent print speed
- Print quality could be better
- App is clunky to use
- Need a mobile device to use at all
Sometimes you’ll take a photo and want to print it out right away, rather than wait to transfer it to your computer, then a full printer, then purchase ink, and on and on. Portable printers are starting to become more commonplace, offering quick solutions for those who need physical photos fast.
Let’s take a look at one of the more recent portable printers in our Polaroid Zip review.
The Polaroid Zip portable printer comes as 4.7 x 2.9 x 0.9 inches. It’s essentially the same size as a regular smartphone, meaning you can carry it as easily in your pocket as you could in a purse or bookbag. This portability is the key to its appeal. There’s something magical about being able to print your own photos wherever you are without needing a clunky printer on a desk.
It also weighs only 6.6 ounces. The rounded edges give it a modern, youthful appearance. You can purchase the printer in black, white, red, or blue colors to personalize it to your taste.
There’s only a single button for turning the printer on and off. All other controls are handled via the app, meaning you’ll need a charged mobile device to operate the printer at all times.
How does the Polaroid Zip work its magic? Through the use of thermal dye technology. This tech doesn’t require any ink to turn your pictures into physical copies. Instead, it relies on paper packs that color into the photo’s final form once you begin the “printing” process.
You’ll have to buy these paper packs ahead of time. The paper is made with embedded colored crystals that melt once the heat is applied. The resulting color mixtures form into your photo.
To use the printer, all you have to do is remove the top cover of the printer and place the paper on the tray. It’s a lot like a scanner in this design. The pre-paid paper packs each come with a blue card and barcode. This goes on the bottom and acts as a “clearance” to let the printer know that the inserted paper is clear for printing.
We liked that the top of the printer has enough capacity to hold 10 sheets of paper at once. This way, you don’t have to load a fresh sheet into the printer after every photo.
The Zip App
Next, you’ll have to make use of the proprietary Zip app. This is where the function of the device falls apart somewhat for us. It runs on both Android or iOS devices. But the app sometimes imports images that are smaller than the original frame, resulting in an awkward fitting on the printed paper.
Other times, the app imports photos from your mobile device in the wrong orientation. The Zip app only has a portrait orientation option. This means that any beautiful landscape-oriented photos you took won’t reach their full splendor once printed out.
You can modify the photograph’s end result in the app to some degree before you finalize the print. There are options to adjust the contrast and color levels or the brightness of the next photo. But overall it’s quite a clunky app that doesn’t have the fine control that many photography aficionados will want on their devices.
Once you’ve finalized a photo in the app, the Zip goes to work. It’ll usually spit out your photo between one and two minutes depending on the strength of your Wi-Fi connection. Better Wi-Fi connections will result in faster print, while unstable connections might take even longer than two minutes.
Once the picture is out, you’ll notice that the print isn’t super high quality. The resolution is manageable but not very impressive. Then again, the paper sizes aren’t very large either. Each paper pack gives you sheets of 4 x 6 inches. So this flaw is a little less egregious than if the pictures were printed on larger papers.
In addition, some of the color or contrast changes that you may have made in the app beforehand might come out looking slightly different than you expected. You’ll have to experiment with the app and its various settings for several test prints before you can safely predict what a picture will look like.
In general, photos from the Polaroid Zip look a little dark in terms of color and shadow. Photos taken in brighter daylight will look better than ones taken with more natural darkness.
The Zip can print 25 pictures until the battery runs out of power. The USB cable lets you recharge it wherever you can find a port, and it lets you siphon power from other devices in a pinch.
The Zip comes with an included USB cable for charging. You also get a free pack of 10 sheets of the thermal-dyed paper, so you don’t need to purchase any extra to start printing photos right away. This small supply will run out very quickly, however.
All in all, the Polaroid Zip is a decent portable printer that has several great design features. The way in which it prints photos from a wireless connection to your phone is innovative and impressive to watch. But the quality of the resulting prints and the poor functionality of the control app make it more frustrating to use than we’d hoped. It’s a mixed bag but workable if you’re willing to put in the effort to learn the app and don’t want to spend too much money on a portable printer.
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