Polaroid doesn't exactly reign supreme in the digital-camera market, so we were quite surprised to hear that the company would be the first to roll out a consumer model with Foveon's buzzworthy 4.5-megapixel X3 sensor. But that technology may not be enough to distinguish the x530 from a crowd of tough competitors.
Upside: The X3 sensor shows lots of promise. Its filter technology assigns each pixel red, green, and blue rather than just one of the three. Because there's no color-filter array, the sensor doesn't have to reconstruct missing color data and generate the attendant postprocessing artifacts. To learn more, check out Foveon's Web site. For the chip's latest iteration, dubbed the F19, the company made substantial design and manufacturing changes intended to decrease noise and increase light sensitivity.
Downside: Very sketchy preliminary specifications, among them a 3X zoom, indicate that if it weren't for the Foveon sensor and 30-frame-per-second VGA movie capture, the x530 would be unremarkable. Plus, its dysfunctional family tree might make the camera seem like a risky buy. It's branded by Polaroid, manufactured by World Wide Licenses, and distributed in the United States by Uniden, a company known for its cordless phones.
Outlook: When the Polaroid x530 ships in June at a list price of $399, the camera will seem expensive compared with the growing numbers of budget 4- to 5-megapixel models. Polaroid will need more than a newfangled sensor and VGA movies to grab the public's attention.