Review: Polaroid ZIP Mobile Printer

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For us old folks, the name Polaroid is synonymous with the instant printing of pictures. Our kids, of course, get the idea of seeing pictures immediately, but only on screens. Having those pictures printed at all is fairly rare in our house, and certainly not without effort.

So leave it to Polaroid to bridge that gap with their ZIP Mobile Printer, a nifty little device that lets anyone generate 2″ x 3″ prints of the pictures on their mobile device.

Note: Polaroid sent me a ZIP printer for review purposes.

The ZIP Printer next to an iPhone 6. Photo by Rob Huddleston.
The ZIP Printer next to an iPhone 6, with the app’s interface on the phone. Photo by Rob Huddleston.

The printer is slight smaller, if a bit thicker, than an iPhone 6, and it weighs about the same, making it truly mobile: it can easily fit in a pocket or backpack and be taken anywhere. It charges using a standard micro-USB cable, which is included in the box. It takes about 90 minutes to fully charge, and the charge lasts for about 20 prints or a couple of hours.

The inkless technology prints on special ZINK paper. While the paper is a bit pricey–each print costs about 50 cents–it’s nice that there’s no need to worry about ink, which of course is a big part of how they can produce such a tiny printer.

The printer connects to a mobile device via either Bluetooth or, on the Android side, NFC. Setup was effortless–the first time you connect your device to the printer, you’ll be prompted to go to either iTunes or Google Play and download the free Polaroid ZIP app. Its incredibly simple interface makes it easy to print pictures from the phone’s gallery, do some basic editing, and a few other things. I was able to print my first picture within minutes of opening the box.

What a 13 year old can do in about 20 minutes with an iPhone and a ZIP printer. Photo by Rob Huddleston.
What a 13 year old can do in about 20 minutes with an iPhone and a ZIP printer. Photo by Rob Huddleston.

The quality of the photos is OK. You certainly aren’t going to win any awards with these prints, but that’s not the point. My 13 year old daughter and a friend had a ball with the printer, quickly running through all 30 sheets of paper Polaroid sent with the review copy. They loved the idea of being able to print those selfies and Instagram quotes and the like that they have filling up the memory on their phones. My daughter did complain that the Picture Card, which is basically a quick do-it-yourself business card, showed a background pattern on the app that didn’t show up in the print, but that was basically the only complaint she had. One of the first things she did this morning was ask if we could order more paper so that she could keep printing.

The ZIP Printer sells on Amazon for $130.

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