Gone are Polaroid’s analogue cameras that spat out a picture in seconds – its long overdue update comes in the form not of a digital version – though the £300 Z340 instant digital camera-printer from Polaroid will change that in December – but the small and thoroughly portable GL10 printer that can connect to almost any digital device.
USB and Bluetooth connectivity
Part of the Lady Gaga-endorsed ‘Grey Label’ range for Polaroid, the GL10 can be hooked up to a PC via a USB cable (there’s a micro-USB slot on its side), while a USB thumb drive containing pictures can also be shoved in nearby – but the dominant way for this diminutive printer to work its magic is via Bluetooth.
Unfortunately, that Bluetooth connectivity doesn’t stretch to compatibility with an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, none of which can output photos via the wireless standard (presumably the licence for Apple AirPrint was a step too far for this gadget).
Measuring just 114x150x30mm – a shade smaller than the 6x4in dimensions of a typical printed photo – the GL10 plays best with Android 2.0 or higher, BlackBerry or Windows Phone 7 smartphones (a Polaroid PoGo App is available that adds special features such as adding text, simple pre-printing editing and auto focus) sporting Bluetooth, as well as any home computer – including an iMac in our tests – which boasts the same.
There is one major drawback – the GL10 uses special photo paper that, alas, only measures 3x4in – so the end product is of novelty size only. It actually uses ZINK paper, a US-made photo paper that’s heat-treated by the GL10 to produce a picture. A pack of 10 sheets is provided in the box, with additional packets costing a steep £14.99 (that works out at £1.49 per photo).
A small flap lifts-up on the GL10′s front to accept the photo paper, with the battery able to print over 30 photos on a single charge (it’s recharged using a micro-USB cable).
The results are pretty good, though, with plenty of detail apparent in the print, though there’s a slightly unrealistic look to pictures – the main subjects tend to stick out against a divorced background – and in our tests, a black line was sometimes left on one side of a photos.
We’ve no argument about the speed at which a photo is printed; in testing, it took just under a minute for the GL10 to splutter into life and quietly issue a print, though the transfer of data from a Bluetooth-connected device – in this case, a netbook – took four minutes to send over a 6MB picture. Connecting was simple, with a default four-digit passcode supplied with the GL10.
- Speed, small size, no ink needed.
- Cost of paper, average quality, small size of prints.
It's a shame the GL10 doesn't work with Apple products, though anyone with an Android-based smartphone or tablet should find some novelty value from it, especially with festive parties on the horizon. Simple to work and quick to print, the GL10 is nevertheless slightly underwhelming in its ultimate performance.