The Golden age of Polaroid's instant cameras may be long over, but there's still something special about instant prints of your images. In order to bring the magic of instant cameras into the digital age, the Polaroid Zip lets users print images taken on a smartphone in less than 60 seconds. Although the detail and color reproduction in these 2 x 3-inch photos isn't always perfect, it's a great gift for smartphone shooters who want to print photos that they would otherwise relegate to some digital archive.
At first glance, the Zip appears very simple. It's small and has just one button, one port and two indicator lights. Its single button has the sole purpose of turning this wireless printer on an off – you control all of the printer functions with an iOS or Android app.
A micro-USB port provides power to the Zip's 500-mAh battery, while the leftmost indicator light lets you know whether your device is charging, charged or out of battery. Polaroid claims you'll get up to 25 prints per charge, which is not bad for such a compact device.
Printing requires Polaroid's special Zink photo paper. The upside of this paper is that it requires no ink and fits easily into the Zip. The downside is that it's usually over $2 a sheet, which is relatively expensive for printer paper. In this case, convenience takes priority over cost.
Making a print with the Zip is remarkably easy. You just open the app, select Quick Print, choose your image, trim and resize it as necessary, and select Print. Other options include Edit Print, which gives you a selection of editing tools before printing; Secret View, which prints a QR code than you can later scan to reveal your selected image as well as any edits, captions or stamps you added; Name Card, for printing business cards; and My Zip for ordering paper, finding help or managing devices.
The prints aren't perfect, but for a 3 x 2-inch instant print, it just doesn't matter. We found them to be more than adequate. What's more, we really loved the size of these images. Rather than having to put them into a scrapbook or album for viewing, you can easily fit them into your wallet or purse. But it gets even better – you can also peel off the back and stick them to any flat, clean surface. With applications like this, it's easy to see why the Polaroid Zip is a great Christmas gift for almost anyone.
Overall, we were impressed with the performance of Polaroid's Zip instant photo printer. Not only does it print photos, it does it instantly and well. Considering the widespread adoption of smartphones as the principle means of capturing photographs, a compatible printer seems an obvious accessory. Yet, these printers aren't widespread, and in world where nearly all media is digital, a physical representation of memories feels like a novel idea. As a Christmas gift, the Zip is as fun as it is useful and a great choice for the photo-lover in your life.