Polaroid goes digital with Android camera

@CNNMoneyTech January 16, 2012: 9:44 AM ET
Polaroid SC1630 Smart Camera features a 3.2-inch touchscreen and the full Android app market.

Polaroid SC1630 Smart Camera features a 3.2-inch touchscreen and the full Android app market.

LAS VEGAS (CNNMoney) -- Iconic film company Polaroid is determined not to get left behind in an increasingly digital age. A new Android-powered point-and-shoot camera is part of that reinvention.

CNNMoney checked out the Polaroid SC1630 Smart Camera at the Consumer Electronics Show last week in Las Vegas. The camera features a 3.2-inch touchscreen and the full Android app market. It's a 16-megapixel camera with a 3x optical zoom, and it includes Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity.

"Polaroid's heritage is in sharing," says Scott Hardy, president of Polaroid. "We were the original photography brand that had a sharing platform. You could take a picture and then instantly share it with someone."

Of course, these days "sharing" doesn't mean passing along an instant Polaroid snap; it means Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and other social networks. The SC1630 uploads photos to those sites with a press of a button.

The camera's release date and price tag haven't yet been set.

With the release of the SC1630, Polaroid is banking on the viability of point-and-shoot cameras -- even as the landscape has changed. People are using smartphones for casual photography and instant online uploads. But Hardy says the SC1630's superior specs set it apart from phone photography.

He's similarly unruffled by the specter of fellow film icon Kodak's struggles to avoid bankruptcy. The difference between the two, Hardy says, is that Polaroid is "extremely healthy. The company has no debt and is backed by private investor groups.

"We have a healthy business model, which is the exact opposite of where Kodak is today," he says. "Kodak has a long row to hoe. Polaroid's already made that transition and has evolved past being a film manufacturer. We've bridged into the digital space."

Polaroid played up its new image by naming Lady Gaga to a creative director position in early 2010. She appeared at CES 2011 to unveil a three-product line called "Grey Label by Haus of Gaga."

The first product Gaga unveiled was the strangest: a pair of face-swallowing sunglasses called GL20 Camera Glasses. They would capture photos and video like a regular camera, then display them on the glasses' LCD screens for others to see. Photos could be sent to a printer via a Bluetooth connection.

The next two products felt more like traditional Polaroid, albeit with modern touches. First up: the GL10 Instant Mobile Printer, which printed 3x4 photos wirelessly from cell phones. Rounding out the trio was the GL30, an instant camera with a retro design that harkened back to the Polaroid cameras of decades past.

The Instant Mobile Printer went on sale in June 2011 for $170, and it's now available for $100. But the instant camera never came out, and neither did the Camera Glasses.

Hardy says the two products "are still under development. We want to do it right -- we want to get it perfect." To top of page

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