Gadget Guide: Polaroid Z340 Digital Camera

PHOTO: Polaroids new camera, the Z340, merges digital and instant photography.PlayPolaroid
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Polaroid cameras are all about nostalgia: the bulky camera, the whirring sound and, perhaps most memorably, the feeling of excited anticipation as the image slowly developed in front of your eyes, often accompanied by the futile and fun shaking of the paper.

The company's newest addition is the Polaroid Z340, which revamps the classic experience with new capabilities that include instant editing, video and perhaps the most radical change: seeing the image before printing it.

If you're looking for the nostalgia, the updated version both delivers and disappoints, depending on what you're hoping for.

Polaroid says the camera was designed to be both a digital and instant camera, merging the camera's past with the present.

How highly you think of the new Polaroid will likely depend on what you choose to compare it to.

If compared to today's typical digital camera, the Polaroid seems inferior. It is larger, heavier and the image quality is much lower than the high-definition cameras and televisions consumers are now used to.

The camera itself is about the same size as the classic Polaroid cameras, but it now seems large compared to modern pocket-sized digital cameras.

It's about 5 inches wide and 6 inches long. It becomes narrower from front to back, and is about 2.5 inches at its thickest. The camera weighs one pound, seven ounces. It's not huge, but not something you could easily fit into your pocket or purse.

But if compared to the traditional Polaroid, the new camera could certainly satisfy the longing of devoted Polaroid fans.

The new Polaroid might be best for parties or social situations. It would be great to have at a wedding. Even 63 years after the first Polaroid camera went on the market, the camera retains its novelty. It's a conversation piece that people are eager to have fun with and reminisce about the Polaroids they had growing up.

The somewhat grainy quality of the photos even seems charming when you're enthralled to be holding the camera.

The 14.0-megapixel camera features a 2.7-inches color LCD screen that pops up from the top of the camera for viewing the images and recording video. The camera has an internal memory but is also SD compatible for extra memory space. The rechargeable lithium-ion battery prints up to 25 photos per charge.

The photos are full-color 3x4 smudge-proof, water-resistant and tear-resistant prints.

On the automatic setting, the prints are borderless and look like typical digital prints. But a camera setting can be activated that adds the classic white frame around the photo. And for shutterbugs wishing to take the creativity to the next level, custom borders can be downloaded and added from a CD included with the camera.

One of the camera's coolest features is its ZINK Imaging printing technology. The system inside the camera does not require the hassles of ink cartridges or ribbons that need to be changed.

"Before printing, the embedded dye crystals are clear, so the ZINK Paper looks like regular white photo paper. The Z340 uses heat to activate and colorize these crystals," Polaroid explains on its website.

The printing is fast. In less than minute, the photo you snapped is in your hands and ready to enjoy.

The Polaroid Z340's list price is $299.99. A 30-piece pack of Polaroid 3-inch-by-4-inch ZINK Paper retails for $19.99.

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