Polaroid Originals today announced its first Polaroid printer – the Polaroid Lab – which allows you to print photos taken on your phone.
The Lab, an update to the Impossible Project & # 39; s Instant Lab from seven years ago, has a camera with three lenses that basically take a photo of a photo on a user's phone. The image is then optimized for film and printed. It should work with the iPhone 6 and higher and & # 39; most & # 39; Android devices. It charges via Micro USB, with Polaroid saying that one charge should last a month. It will cost $ 100 when it is finally released later this year and will accept any movie except the SX-70.
The Lab requires users to have the Polaroid Originals app installed on their phones, from which they can tinker with settings such as exposure and color correction. In the beta app, those settings are not displayed visually, so you simply play with a setting without knowing how this affects the actual print. (It is unclear whether this will change when the Lab is released.) You can also split an image into a collage spread over up to nine prints, but that collage is not seamless and the large white edges around each print take up a lot of image property.
Polaroid included other more technically oriented features that are already built into other photo printers, such as the ability to assign a video to a photo. With that function you can keep the Polaroid Originals app above the print to display a video. It is gimmicky and requires the person who has the print to actually download the app.
I tested the new device with mixed results. I've always struggled to find the perfect place for the phone to sit above the Lab, even with the app that offered guidance. When I found the right place, the print quality varied. My phone photos, even on my nearly 4-year-old iPhone 6S, are detailed and colorful. When translated into film, some details disappear and the colors feel completely out – and not in a charming way.
I printed the same photo of a lake with geese three times and each photo looks different and unattractive. I gave Verge video director Alix Diacon prints a photo of her and she said, "That's bad."
Polaroid says that you must leave all prints in the roller of the lab or turn them for at least 15 minutes to make them clearly visible. When I did this, the prints developed well, but the results were not impressive.
The idea of printing my smartphone photo & # 39; s is neat, but the reality is that it is probably not the best way to take a photo of a photo on a screen. The magic of Polaroid is the spontaneity of taking a photo and not knowing how it ends. If you already have a clear, perfect photo, you don't want to ruin it with unpredictable film.