The once-dead, now-resurrected Polaroid has been doing plenty of experimentation recently. After somehow managing to make instant photography “a thing” again, it released a nifty smartphone-connected portable printer. But now it’s time for the product that everyone has been waiting for. The Socialmatic is a crazy blend of bulky digital compact, instant camera and Instagram machine, and after 19 long months of anticipation, it is finally about to arrive.
The Socialmatic is even styled to look like Instagram’s logo, but don’t be fooled by the whimsical exterior — this is a genuinely impressive piece of photographic tech. The main camera at the front is equipped with a 14-megapixel sensor, and there is also a 2-megapixel camera at the rear, for selfies. You’ll notice there is no viewfinder, but there is a 4.5” screen for composition. This is also, effectively, an Android tablet with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS capabilities. Not only does it provide the ability to send images directly to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and others, you can even use it to browse the web.
While it will be possible to install apps on the camera, it is uncertain at this stage whether photo editors such as VSCO Cam will be available initially. I’d like to think they may arrive at some point, though, and in the meantime, you can easily send photos from the camera to your phone via Bluetooth.
On the print side of things, Polaroid has made it very easy to get images from the in-built 4GB memory (expandable to 32GB via SD card) to paper. Pressing the dedicated button sets the internal printer in motion, and it offers prints of 3×2 inches, using Polaroid’s now-familiar inkless system to make them.
The whole thing is powered by a rechargeable battery, and weighs around 1.2lbs — not exactly a featherweight, but surprisingly light considering its innards. The Socialmatic will start shipping from Amazon on New Year’s Day, priced quite reasonably at $299, with Photojojo offering the camera a couple of weeks later.
Quite whether there is the mass demand to sustain this project is questionable. But if you happen to know a Polaroid enthusiast, it might be worth sitting them down with a glass of ice-cold water before you tell them the news…
You can find out more about the Socialmatic (and pre-order one) here.