The Polaroid P-500 Digital Photo Printer merges both old and new technology to deliver the type of instant prints we all know and love. Although it doesn't have the sophistication, range of controls, or image size of some other standalone digital instaprinters, the P-500 is easy to use, has a great user guide, and shows that Polaroid hasn't lost its common touch. The Polaroid P-500 Digital Photo Printer merges both old and new technology to deliver the type of instant prints we all know and love. Although it doesn't have the sophistication, range of controls, or image size of some other standalone digital instaprinters, the P-500 is easy to use, has a great user guide, and shows that Polaroid hasn't lost its common touch.
Cheap and easy
Weighing just more than a pound, the P-500 costs $249 and outputs an image size of about two by three inches. Since the P-500 uses Polaroid Type 500 instant film, which has built-in battery power, there is no need for supplementary batteries or an external power cord to run the printer.
Operating the P-500 is also as simple as pie. Just open the film compartment, insert the film pack, snap the door shut, and hit the On button, which will instantly eject the pack cover. Next, open the sliding side door, insert a CompactFlash Type I or a SmartMedia card (using the included adapter) and you're ready to print. The P-500 outputs only images shot in JPEG, so if you're shooting in TIFF or other formats, consider yourself warned.
If available, you can use your digicam's DPOF (Digital Print Order Feature) to select the photos you want to print, but this entails working through your digital camera's LCD menu, which may take some time. You can also make a note of the shot number in the camera's LCD monitor for input to the P-500, but that won't work if the printer doesn't support your digicam's file numbering system, which is the case for a small minority of digicams.
Not to worry, though, the P-500 offers an ingenious alternative: its easy Lock feature (this setting, which can be found on most cameras, prevents your favorite photos from being erased). With it, the printer searches for each locked print and outputs those images directly to the printer--simple, straightforward, classic Polaroid.
Prints in no time
The P-500 can shoot out a print every 45 seconds, and the ejected images develop outside the printer in three minutes, just like all Polaroid film. You can queue images in any order, print multiple copies, even cancel printing in midstream. Overall, the exposure and color were excellent, with sharpness equal to that of a standard Polaroid photo.
While putting the P-500 through its paces, we never once ran out of power and found it nice to know that we could use the P-500 anywhere in the world without worrying about supplies, batteries, or issues with the local voltage. The included shoulder strap further attests to this printer's go-anywhere ruggedness.
The Polaroid P-500 is a great, little, self-powered portable printer if you're looking for one. And even if you aren't looking for one, once you see this tool in action, it's bound to become a permanent part of your digital arsenal just because it's so much fun to use.