Hands-on with Polaroid’s wacky Android camera (video)

Daniel Bader

January 10, 2013 8:53 pm


We had a chance to play with Polaroid’s $399 mirrorless camera this week, powered by Android 4.1, and came away a bit perplexed. While it’s clear the company is intending to make the technology ultra-affordable by essentially creating a hollow body, the idea certainly has legs.

See, the camera’s sensor is in the lens; that means that the body just houses the processor, acting as a personal media player or sorts. Polaroid intends to sell many different varieties of lenses, though it will ship with a 10-30mm kit lens that feels cheap and takes extremely poor photos. Then there’s a low-resolution touchscreen on the back to control stock Android, but the device doesn’t seem powerful enough to make use of the bounty.

So the idea is good; the execution is not. The creaky chassis feels cheap in the hands, and the way the product is being marketed almost makes it seem like an expensive disposable.

Polaroid is doing the exact opposite of many of its competitors; it is producing premium-sounding products at a huge discount with cheap, off-the-shelf parts, and selling it to users who wouldn’t otherwise be willing to buy them. In this way, it is opening up the mirrorless camera segment to many more people, but it’s too bad so many shortcuts were taken along the way.

There will eventually be an adapter to allow non-Polaroid lenses to attach to the iM1836 — a good thing, considering the less-than-ideal quality of the original parts. Because the sensor is in the lens, not the body itself, dust intrusions need not apply; merely throw away the original lens and buy a newer, better one. It’s an interesting business model, but since a good entry-level Sony mirrorless such as the NEX-F3 can be purchased for as little as $449, the iM1836 doesn’t seem like a great deal anymore.

So much for that.

  • JUST SAYING

    RIP RIM ;)

    • Assdroid

      RIP Android :)

    • Kim Jong ILL

      Android sure is wacky.
      Buy a sumsung and support me – your Dear Leader!

  • REDRUM

    This camera would work a lot better with the new BB10 OS!.
    ..
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    Joking.

    RIP RIM

    • REDRUM.

      I would also work a lot better if I wasn’t jerking off in my mom’s basement all day!

  • MattyMattMatt

    I hope they sell it body only.

  • GlassBackBadIdea

    Sensor inside the removeable lens? so much for using your own lenses

  • Santa Timmins

    RIP RIM!

    RIP! RIP!

  • ASH

    I would rather pay the money for the Nexus 4, if I could get my hands on one. After all that will the same, or even cheaper, considering all the bells and whistles, I would have to get for the polaroid cam!

  • CRTC

    This is “polaroid” not the polaroid you may know from the past. polaroid went bankrupt and those sold their brand and name, now the companies using the brand name are companies that make crap using the name to boast some backround and brand. this explains why that camera seemed like junk.

  • some guy

    This is what happens when companies buy a brand name and try to cash in with inferior products.

    I’ll stick with my good old digital point and click.
    It’s not difficult to wait until I get home to download photos to my computer.

  • Karendar

    Man, seriously. The comments on Mobile Syrup have a stupid/coherent ratio of 50:50… Kinda depressing.

  • relevant84

    @Karendar: I couldn’t agree more. The number of people who think they’re being funny by saying random, stupid things, I barely read the comments anymore. I know there won’t be anything worth reading.

  • IAmTheMightyFinder

    I wish that half of the commenters on MobileSyrup would stop acting like morons and say something perfectly sane (i.e. their thoughts on the article or what was described in it) and not something related to promoting WIND or bashing RIM or Samsung.

  • Dylan.D

    Seems like a waste honestly. Building the sensor into the lens means expensive lenses just boosted in price by another $200.

    While that may seem good for an entry level user, it just really isn’t, because once it comes time to upgrade, its already beyond $600, and by that you might as well have purchased a better over-all camera from a company that already does well in the camera market.

    I’m not against Poloroid trying to come back, but this was not the product they needed to get going again.