Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make CES, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this year. Reading the recaps, though, there are two new gizmos this year that I find really intriguing. One of them is Polaroid’s new venture into instant digital photography, the SC1630. It’s basically a Polaroid-branded digital camera with an Android-based smartphone. Engadget.com had one of the best recaps of the new device that I’d read. The link and my thoughts on the SC1630 after the jump. >>>

According to an Engadget story, it’s an update and rebrand of last year’s 14 megapixel Aigo A8 camera phone. As far as camera phones go, the specs say the new Polaroid is a sexy device. For stills, the camera supports a huge 16 megapixel resolution — that’s twice the resolution of the iPhone 4S. It has a 3X optical zoom in addition to any digital zoom software or apps may have. In test photographs I’ve seen, the color was rich and natural. According to Engadget, the camera has proprietary Polaroid compression technology to reduce file size and conserve bandwidth. It’s got a lot of sweet specs. Check out the entire post on Engadget (link at the end of this post).

The device uses the Android operating system, which means users will be able to download photo apps from the Android Market. Although the Android Market doesn’t have nearly the number of photo apps that are available in the iPhone’s App Store, there are still plenty of crossover photo apps such as Magic Hour, TouchRetouch, Retro Camera Plus, Camera360, BeFunky Photo Editor, and Adobe Photoshop Touch. We’ve reviewed the iPhone versions of many of these apps.

I have a soft spot for Polaroid. One of my first cameras as a kid was the Polaroid Swinger. It took muddy black & white photos and because of the chemistry, each print smelled really bad. But the joys of instant photography were as gratifying to me back then as the joys of iPhoneography and apping is now.

Over the years as film sales declined and the company declared bankruptcy, “Polaroid” became little more than an asset — intellectual property to be licensed out without regard for quality in many cases. Many — not all — of the iPhone apps that Polaroid licensed its name or trademarks to were pretty bad and “Official Poloroid Photo App” became kind of a joke.

To me, Polaroid is synonymous with “Instant Photography.” Edwin Land invented it. I want to see Polaroid succeed as a hardware company. Not only am I excited to see that someone in the Polaroid holding company recognizes the connection between mobile photography and the instant photography that Polaroid pioneered so many year ago, but is also being fairly proactive in getting into the game with a device that on paper is a quality instant mobile phone camera. I’m excited to see how this cameraphone performs in the wild.

It’s scheduled to street this April for $299. No carriers have been announced. I won’t be getting one of these — I love my past, current, and future iPhones way too much. But when they street, I’ll definitely be at the AT&T or Verizon store sending an afternoon getting to know the SC1630.

Here’s the link to the post on Engadget. UPDATE 01.16.12: The post has more hands-on photos and specs. There’s also a link to an earlier post of the Aigo A8 with more photos, video, and sample images.



Source: “Polaroid SC1630 Android HD smart camera hands-on, is it a cameraphone or a phonecamera?” by Micheal Gorman, engadget.com.