Polaroid’s New Z2300 Is a Digital Camera with a Built-in Photo Printer

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Polaroid cameras are fun precisely because they are anachronistic, giving us tangible photographs in an era of digital images. Still, the company seems intent on marrying the two concepts into one camera — hence the release of last year’s Z340.

In the end, it didn’t get great reviews, criticized mainly for its bulky feel and the mediocre quality of its printed photos. Now Polaroid is trying again with its Z2300 Instant Digital Camera.

The Z2300 has some clear advantages over its predecessor. First of all, it’s cheaper, shipping for $159.99 instead of the Z340’s $249.99. While thinner than the Z340, at 1.4 inches thick it’s going to feel large to someone used to handling a smaller camera like a PowerShot.

Once again, Polaroid opts for an ink-free printing process utilizing ZINK paper, which is embedded with crystals that colorize when heated by the camera. The result is 2-inch by 3-inch prints that supposedly come out in less than a minute. The ZINK paper won’t be cheap, but it won’t be extraordinarily expensive either: 50-sheet packs will sell for $24.99 while 30-sheet packs will go for $14.99.

The camera itself features a 10-megapixel sensor and a 3-inch LCD display. It uses a standard SD card to store images and, according to CNET, you can either save images and print them later or have the camera automatically print every picture you take.

Normally, the ability to edit photos directly on a digital camera seems pointless to me, as I’d rather just finish them in Photoshop on my computer. When you’re printing physical photos directly from your camera, however, it makes perfect sense. The Z2300 lets you crop photos, use special Polaroid filters and add the classic white Polaroid border before hitting print.

Of course, whether or not the camera is successful will come down to the photo quality, something we can’t judge until we get our hands on it. Still, at $159.99, Polaroid is at least ensuring a decent amount of interest. The Z2300 is available for pre-order with a ship date of August 15, 2012.

MORE: The Story of the Death (and Rebirth) of Polaroid Film