Hands on: Polaroid Socialmatic

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The Instagram logo-inspired Socialmatic from Polaroid

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Polaroid has been teasing us with the release of its Socialmatic camera for a while now, and after some delays it is finally shipping. We got our hands on the company's big square Android-based digital camera with built-in zero-ink printer at CES 2015 and can also confirm it actually works as advertised.

At 5.2 in wide, 5.2 in high and 1.2 in thick, the Socialmatic isn't exactly pocketable, but we suppose that's fair since we've never been able to fit a camera and photo printer in a pocket up until this point anyway. (Polaroid also introduced the Zip pocket printer at CES this year.)

Whether or not many people will feel comfortable pulling out the clunky, goofy Instagram logo-inspired device for a few snapshots remains to be seen, but the concept of being able to instantly print 2 by 3-inch photos or stickers or share them via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth will certainly have an appeal to some consumers. Polaroid is banking on the look and its brand name generating some interest among both the retro and social obsessed.

"Polaroid created the original social network; allowing people to instantly share a moment in time with others," said CEO Scott W. Hardy.

Regardless of who, exactly, is the target market for the Socialmatic, it is straightforward and easy to use, with the big 4.5-in touchscreen for framing up shots and a simple process that would allow even an Android rookie to take and print a photo in less than a minute. We had our Socialmatic take this shot of its neighbor from the CES show floor and it printed out with no hassle.

For the more tech savvy, the whole Android ecosystem is also there. You could easily use this device to peruse Facebook and Twitter when you aren't printing out tiny pictures of yourself and your friends. Each Socialmatic photo taken has its own QR code that can be scanned to theoretically (and somewhat creepily) track the history and whereabouts of each print. All this ties back to Polaroid's own social platform, the Socialmatic Photonetwork, as well.

The Socialmatic's main camera is a 14-megapixel shooter, and it also has a 2-MP selfie camera. On board there's 4 GB of storage and a microSD slot, with Polaroid saying the device will ship with Android 4.4 KitKat.

The Socialmatic is shipping now through Photojojo, starting at US$299. Amazon is also taking pre-orders now and will start shipping February 1.

Product page: Polaroid

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