Polaroid Zip mobile printer review:

Pocket-sized photo printer for smartphone photogs

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4 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good The Polaroid Zip printer is an inexpensive pocketable wireless photo printer that turns your smartphone pictures into full-color 2x3-inch prints. Simple to set up and use, it doesn't require any consumables beyond Polaroid's Zink paper.

The Bad Prints are small and cost about 25 cents each (£0.15, AU$1). The print quality is OK all things considered, but don't expect inkjet or dye-sub printer quality. Built-in rechargeable battery lasts for just 25 prints.

The Bottom Line ​Simple and fun to use, the Polaroid Zip is a great little accessory for freeing your photos from your smartphone.

8.0 Overall

The Polaroid Zip is a small box slightly larger than a deck of playing cards, just under an inch thick (2.5cm) and weighs 186 grams (6.6 ounces). And it's a photo printer.

Similar to the Fujifilm Instax Share SP-1 , the Zip mobile printer, which sells for $129.99 (about £110 or AU$170), connects to your iOS or Android device via Bluetooth and, using a free app, turns photos from your phone or tablet into small, 2x3-inch borderless prints.

Ammunition, the firm that designed Polaroid's Cube camera, worked on the Zip too, and it shows. Like the Cube, the Zip is an attractive, simple device that looks more like a portable hard drive than a printer. The glossy plastic body quickly picks up hairline scratches and fingerprints though, so you'll want to hunt down a microfiber pouch of some sort to keep it looking its best since none is included.

The only button is for power and the only port is Micro-USB for charging. The battery is built-in and lasts for about 25 prints, which means for a long event like a wedding, you might have to plug it in to keep the prints coming. The top slides off -- a little too easily, I might add -- revealing a compartment that holds 10 sheets of paper.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

The printer uses Polaroid's Zink zero-ink printing technology, which uses special Zink paper embedded with cyan, yellow and magenta dye crystals. The crystals start off colorless, but as the print is being made, heat activates the crystals, changing them into the appropriate colors.

Unlike the instant film the Fujifilm Instax uses, there is no waiting for the Zip's prints to develop and the prints are less expensive; a pack of 100 sheets of Zink paper runs about $25 (£15, AU$65). The paper is the only consumable, so you don't have to worry about ink cartridges, and the prints come out dry and smudge-proof because there's no ink involved.

Again, your phone or tablet connects to the Zip over Bluetooth. Using an iOS device, you can just go into settings, hit Bluetooth and select the printer. If you have an Android device with near-field communication (NFC), you can simply tap your device to the top of the Zip and it will start the connection and launch the Zip app.

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