The instant gratification of a Polaroid-style camera has nearly disappeared thanks to the popularity of digital shooters and smartphones. Services such as Instagram, VSCOcam and countless others have filled that void, bringing down the need for actual physical pictures. But like every great trend, the satisfaction of the instant print could be making a come back—and its source is a little unexpected.
On the show floor last week at CES, LG showed off a sleek new version of its Pocket Photo peripheral, which gives users the ability to easily and quickly print out 2 x 3-inch pictures. Neither the idea or implementation are new, but the goal is to make the experience easier and more fun to use—and to introduce a whole new generation to the world of instant printing. If you like to adorn your room with little rectangle memories, LG’s Pocket Photo will make it really simple to do so.
The thing about Polaroid cameras and other film alternatives is that it’s an expensive hobby. For the Pocket Photo printer alone, you’ll be spending somewhere in the region of $149 when it launches over the next few months, with photo paper packs of 30 going for $15. If you wind up printing a lot of pictures, you can see how things can add up—Instagram, meanwhile, is free, while most other photo-editing apps are also offered for free, or at small one-time sums. Still, from the brief time we used the Pocket Photo, it brought us back to an era before smartphones and digital cameras. The ironic thing is that you’ll need a smartphone for the Pocket Photo to actually work.
Printing a photo requires LG’s companion app (for iOS, Android and Windows Phone)—you can also edit photos within the app—though the process is incredibly simple. Using an LG G2, an LG rep printed a photo by simply tapping the device to the Pocket Photo, which took about sixty seconds total. You don’t have to use LG’s handset, however, which makes the experience accessible to nearly every smartphone owner. LG said the new Pocket Photo will have enough battery to go through an entire pack of paper, so you should get plenty of life
Owning a pocket printer might not be at the top of your list, but it’s a fun little complementary gadget, and it seems to work quite well despite it not being ready for consumer release. Polaroid and other competitors have already devised similar alternatives, so the Pocket Photo won’t revolutionize the instant printing market. But it adds another option for those looking to keep their memories offline, and maybe put a picture or two up on the refrigerator.