When Polaroid launched its instant printing Snap camera last year, we were slightly bemused by the lack of a monitor on a digital camera. It appears we weren't the only ones, because today the firm revealed an updated model which packs a 3.5-inch touchscreen. We recently got the chance to try the Polaroid Snap Touch out at Photokina.

From the front, the Polaroid Snap Touch looks almost identical to the model from last year. But flip it around and you can't miss the large 3.5-inch touchscreen which now takes up most of the rear. Updates on the inside also include a new 13-megapixel CMOS sensor, Full HD video recording, a pop-up flash, and a selection of new shooting modes.

While the camera can now be used like any other digital camera (with the original Snap you had to take your memory card out to view your images on another device), the selling point of the Snap Touch really is still the instant printing capability, along with how the touchscreen improves that aspect of the camera.

We tested the camera by taking and printing a number of photos. Image quality looks reasonable for a basic compact camera, though isn't going to rival higher-end (or even mid-range) devices. Unsurprisingly, having a screen there also makes it much easier to compose a photo you might actually want to print.

When we first used the Snap Touch it was set up to automatically print each photo that was taken, so as soon as we'd pressed the shutter you could hear that faint whirring noise which lets you know a print is on its way. A few seconds later the little photo would start to emerge from the side of the camera, with the whole process taking about a minute.

The camera features the same Zero Ink printing process as the original Snap. This means it uses paper which layers a composite material, embedded with cyan, yellow, and magenta crystals, underneath a protective polymer overcoat and then heats the paper to colorize these crystals. As such, the prints aren't going to rival those you'd get from a lab, but are better than those produced by the same tech a couple of years ago.

Second time around we turned off the auto printing so that we could play about with the settings of the camera. This enabled us to set different modes before shooting, and then make adjustments to images before printing them. This includes the ability to add filters, borders, and digital stickers. This is the sort of thing that wouldn't be possible without a monitor, and is made even easier with a touchscreen.

After wiping out all of the paper in the camera (it can hold up to 10 sheets at a time), we had to reload it by flicking a switch on the rear of the camera to open it up. This is simple and only takes a matter of seconds to do, though if you are paying for your paper you still won't want to be doing it all the time.

While we didn't get the chance to try it for ourselves, the Snap Touch also features Bluetooth connectivity and the ability to print from iOS and Android devices. This is a big deal for the camera as it means you no longer need a separate Zip printer to have instant prints from your smartphone.

With decidedly average image quality and small prints, the Polaroid Snap Touch is an undeniable novelty. But it's a fun one which Polaroid is hoping will appeal to young camera users and "party people," according to a company representative.

The Polaroid Snap Touch is available now and priced at US$180. Polaroid's premium Zink photo paper will set you back $20 for a pack of 20, 2 x 3-inch sheets.

Product page: Polaroid Snap Touch

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