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Hands-on with Polaroid's Android-powered camera at CES

updated 07:50 pm EST, Wed January 11, 2012

Polaroid cameraphone needs work before launch

We stopped by the Polaroid booth while at CES for a closer look at its Android-powered point-and-shoot camera, the SC1630. The design from the back end certainly looks like a smartphone, and many are reporting that the camera will have phone functionality as well. Whether this aspect of the device carriers over to production remains to be seen, however, as Polaroid still hasn't ironed out if it will sell it through carriers.

The camera feels light and thus some may associate this with an inexpensive product. This seems to be the case, as the device has a target price of $300. For that money, however, users may also get a phone, as it is currently running on Android 2.3.4 and has a WCDMA 850/1900/2100MHz and GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz radios onboard for voice support and 3G and EDGE for data. There is also Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, along with a GPS sensor and an FM radio. The ability is therefore there, and the hardware did have a microphone hole and speaker hole on it. The user will have the abilitiy to upload photos to Facebook, Flickr, Picasa, and YouTube, though this couldn't be tried as there was no network available.

Its 3.2-inch touchscreen is flanked by some basic camera controls as well. Other than the metal power button for the camera, the others are plastic and don't give a good impression of quality. The OS navigation hardware buttons were especially outdated in today's market of smartphones. The interface was familiar to Android users, however, with five customizable home screens. Scrolling through them wasn't the most efficient, however, as the touchscreen left something to be desired. Its pixel density also made for less-than-ideal sharpness. The device didn't behave like a smartphone, as it powered on and off rather than staying on the entire time. Its 1,020maAh battery may also pose issues considering the mechanizal zoom will use a lot of energy when powering on and off.

Polaroid used its own compression technology to allow users to change the size of the photos when sharing them so they won't incur data charges. Thus far, the SC1630 is a great cellphone camera in terms of hardware specs and the proper lens with a true zoom, but it seemingly sacrifices on many smartphone features. Polaroid may sell the camera at carriers, with data plan subsidies like some others, but this hasn't yet been finalized.

The SC1630 is due to ship in April, though some of the hardware specs are likely to change by then.

by MacNN Staff



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