The Polaroid SC1630 is a new Android-based camera that was unveiled at CES 2012. I had a chance to check it out up close and get a little taste of its performance.
I found it more than a little ironic that Polaroid would produce a camera that looks and feels like a phone while other manufacturers are fighting to differentiate the point and shoot camera from smart phones.
Even more intriguing is the fact that the Polaroid SC1630 offers a SIM-card slot, along with a speaker and mic that make it possible to use it as a phone.
In fact, this really is a phone with a camera inside. The camera itself sports a 16MP sensor and a 3x optical zoom. I’m not sure of the exact equivalent; however, the 6.5-19.5mm zoom range suggests around a 30-90mm equivalent depending on the actual size of the sensor.
The SC1630 that I used was running Android 2.3; however, it is expected to ship with at least Android 3.1 or, more likely, Android 4.0.
The camera will connect via Bluetooth to Polaroid’s GL10 Zink printer, which allows for instant prints from the camera’s interface.
The SC1630 sports a Samsung 800Mhz processor and 512MB RAM (although that could get bumped to 1GB by the time it ships). In addition to the SIM-card and Bluetooth options, the SC1630 offers built-in WiFi for connecting to your own network. Of course, the Android-based design means that you’ll have all the sharing options found on the Android OS to date.
In terms of control and responsiveness, the SC160 is fast enough for shooting images and recording video. There is a slight lag after taking each image, which slows down the review of images or taking subsequent shots. This being a pre-production model, however, that will hopefully be remedied prior to shipment.
Printing to a Bluetooth-connected GL10 Zink printer works rather well; however, there are a probably one or two menu selections too many. Unfortunately, you have to dive into the share menu, select bluetooth, connect to the GL10 and then print. It works, but there needs to be a dedicated app integration for the GL10 so that it’s a single selection on the Android “share” menu.
Print quality from the GL10 is what you’d expect from an instant printer. Image quality from the camera itself is what you’d expect from a budget point and shoot camera based on what I could see at a 1:1 on-screen preview. Not great, but not a deal killer for snapshots. At least it has a real flash for low light situations.
The functionality of the camera as a dedicated Android device is a novel take from a camera standpoint. Among camera shoppers, I’m not sure if this will catch on. However, if Polaroid chose to market this as a smartphone instead, I have to think it would have a broader reach in the market.
The Polaroid SC1630 should be available in multiple colors in April for under $300. Check availability on Amazon.com.
More product shots in the gallery below.