The announcement that Polaroid had signed up iconic pop star Lady Gaga as a "creative director" raised a few eyebrows here at CNET Australia. Would the new products be stunning works of art that take technology in a revolutionary new direction? We didn't have to wait that long to find out, with the "Grey Label by Haus Of Gaga" products demonstrated at CES. Pictures are fine from a distance, but we've been keen to get our hands on a unit to discover whether the Grey Label products are, indeed, a breath of fresh design air.
To put it kindly, perhaps the other Grey Label products will be revolutionary. The GL10 Instant Mobile Printer has a harsh industrial design that makes it look slightly like an external hard drive enclosure, but not much like anything you'd associate with one of the world's fashion icons.
In fact, it's not visually that much different from Polaroid's previous Zink photo printers, and it clearly shares a lot of design DNA with the previous models. Which means, logically speaking, it was in fact just born this way. OK, we promise that's the only Lady Gaga joke we'll put in this entire review.
Getting back to the point, while it feels a little cruel to pick on an ordinary portable printer for looking plain and frankly a little ugly, a key selling point for the whole Grey Label by Haus of Gaga line is that they're a mix of Polaroid technology and Lady Gaga style. The GL10, to our eyes, simply isn't very Gaga. Unless the GL10 is meant to be some kind of ironic statement about the ephemeral nature of beauty and judgement of products at first glance. Somehow, we just can't see it.
The GL10 is a Zink-based printer, which means that the printer itself does relatively little of the actual printing; like other mobile printing solutions the secret is in the paper, which in Zink's case is a special polymer that reacts when heated to form coloured patterns. Pictures, in other words.
The GL10 is described by Polaroid as a "next generation" Zink printer, which means that unlike the previous generation of Zink devices, the GL10 can manage prints up to 4x3 inches in size. You only get a sample pack of 10 sheets of Zink paper with the printer; a pack of 30 sheets of 4x3-inch Zink paper will set you back AU$29.95, making each photo only marginally cheaper than a dollar per print. It's one area where importing might make sense; the same Zink paper in the US sells for US$19.99.