George Engel reviews the Kodak ‘Mini Shot’ Camera, compared to the Polaroid Snap

George Engel

George Engel - digital cameras that print So, I could be wrong but, it appears that Kodak just advertised a new Digital Camera with a built-in printer for $100. Is this a Wow moment or what? Is this a good thing? Worthwhile, or just a laugh-in moment?

Polaroid_snap

Let’s take a look at this... Kodak coming out against the Polaroid ‘Snap’... at $89 (Amazon)?

But is this printing-in-a-Camera thing anything worthwhile or not? Have we been here before?

First of all, let’s look at the specs of the Kodak ‘Mini Shot’ Camera overall:

camera_close_upIt prints out on a 2x3 or so credit card paper or a 2.1x2.1 photo paper. Kind of tiny for my eyes. How does the paper get in there, you ask? Ah ha, well, only Kodak can sell you the printing cartridge that you have to install in the camera. It’s a 20-pack. Maybe a 30 and/or 50 pack is available, however, fitting a 50 pack of paper in a camera 1 inch thick may be questionable. And the cost? Appears to be at an Amazon price of $17 for a 20 pack.

paper_carrier_cost Kodak advertises the printing technology as a 4-Pass technology. Basically, they use a Dye-diffusion Thermal Transfer process to melt the dyes onto the paper with a covering layer for waterproofing and no fingerprint smearing. Did I mention that it takes 50 seconds or so to print each picture? A good printing technology process, but time-consuming and using the built-in battery. Enough so that the process is only good for 20 prints per battery charge. Therein lies the rub. It takes about 1-1/2 hours to recharge the battery. And the battery is non-removable! What happens if the battery goes bad? Deep-six the Camera? Send it to Kodak? Cost of battery swap? Doesn’t say in the specs. It’s why I like swappable batteries in my camera. Swap them out and keep taking pictures.

A further look at the spec sheet shows that the camera is a 10 MP (megapixel) unit and has a 1.7 inch LCD viewfinder with Auto Focus and Exposure and has WiFi Connectivity to save/transfer files to your Smart Device. It’s also compatible to iOS and Android.

So what’s my take on a unit like this (or even the Polaroid unit?) I have a lot of issues with them. First, you take a picture, then wait 50 seconds to print it. Meanwhile, your subject may have flown the coop, so to speak, or the wedding may have gone to some other place. Then you look at the picture and see that you have motion in the picture, or you were shaking when you took the picture. No Image Stabilization in this camera, folks; no tripod mount either.

With a standard digital camera, you have image stabilization for those shaky moments, or lacking that, you keep on taking shots one after another. Why not, digital is free on those built-in memory cards. Motion? Trash it! You have others! Battery life is hours and hours on regular digital cameras. Swap them out in seconds or a minute or two when they go bad. Easy-peasey!

Camera_Paper_cartridge

Looks like the Camera Paper cartridge is something like this, sim to the Kodak portable printer. Doesn’t look like the easiest thing to swap out in inclimate weather or the dark. Not good for the environment and landfill either.

kodak_pix_pro Personally, if I needed an inexpensive camera, I would pick out something like the Sony DSCW800 (20 MP, 5X zoom, Image Stabilization, 720 HD videos and panoramic) for $88; or the Nikon Coolpix L32 (20 MP, 5X optical zoom, 3 inch LCD, 720 HD video) for $98; or the Olympus VR370 (16MP, Image Stab,, 12x zoom, ultra-wide lens, 3 inch LCD, HD video) under $100; or Samsung WB35F (16MP, 12x zoom, etc); even Kodak’s 16MP, 12x zoom, PixPro for $68 (Amazon.)

You see where I’m going with this? If you’re on the go, and not home, you see the pix you take immediately on your larger (for us older generation) LCD screens, retake if necessary right away. Hell, just take 2, 3, 4 shots anyway, just in case. On the road, you can stop in almost any Sams, Costco, CVS, Walgreens place, hand them your memory card and print the shots you want if necessary for maybe 12 to 20 cents apiece. No expensive cartridges, no waste of time! Or print them at home on your expensive ink-jet printer!

My take on this is that Kodak management thought they could double-dip on the camera price and have you coming back, time and again ($$$) for print cartridges, like the ink-Jet printer cartridges! I think this kind of thinking is why Kodak is in the problem that they’re in! Of course, that’s just one man’s opinion!

Until next time ... Happy shopping!

George Engel The Naked Serviceman

George Engel

About the author: George Engel has been a computer guru probably longer than he will admit -- as a computer expert, he authored The Naked Serviceman book, about his journey through the history of Apple's Macintosh as owner/founder of an authorized Apple Service Center. He owned one of the first Apple II computers as well as one of the first Macintosh 128s. He hangs out with the Lakeland User Group in sunny Florida.


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