Earlier today, LG officially launched a rather unique product – the LG Pocket Photo Printer (PD221). The Pocket Photo is being dubbed by LG as a smart mobile printer, and the device certainly lives up to its nomenclature. I’ve been using a unit that was gifted to me for the past couple of months.
The printer is incredibly small – it’s actually slightly smaller than my Galaxy SIII. However, the thickness means that you won’t be actually able to carry this in your pocket (unless you’re wearing a jacket or a coat). The printer produces 5.1 x 7.6cm (2 x 3 inch) prints, which are definitely not large enough to please a photographer, but are good for quickly capturing and sharing fun moments with friends.
The Pocket Photo PD221 is USB powered, and can also run on battery. The battery doesn’t last long, but the good thing is that it only takes a few minutes to charge up. Once it’s charged, the indicator changes from red to green, and you’re good to go. Before you can print though, you’ll need to install the LG Pocket Photo app from the Play Store. Windows and iPhone users are out of luck though, since the app is only available for Android. The app is pretty straightforward and simple to use. You can apply Instagram-like photo effects, crop and rotate the picture, add text or even a custom QR code. Once you’re happy with the photo, you need to hit the print button. The Pocket Photo transmits via Bluetooth. Pressing and holding the power button makes it discoverable. However, if you have an NFC equipped phone, you can skip the hassle of searching and pairing with the printer. Just tap your phone on the printer, and it should instantly start transmitting. At least in theory. In practice, it took a couple of tries to get it right, but the entire process was still pretty hassle free. The Android app can also print multiple photos in a single page, so you can also use the printer for quick and dirty passport photos.
The LG Pocket Photo uses a special paper known as ZINK (Zero Ink). Unlike traditional InkJet printers, it doesn’t require any ink. Instead it prints by applying heat on the special ZINK paper. This is the innovation that enabled LG to shrink the printer. The LG Pocket Photo is undoubtedly an incredibly cool device. Take a snap, fire up the app, tap on your printer, and in less than a minute you would have the pic in your hand. Unfortunately, the ZINK technology has its limitations. The quality of the prints isn’t bad, but isn’t very good either. The color reproduction is off, as a result of which images appear washed out and tinted.
The biggest caveat of the PD221 is its price. It doesn’t serve a lot of purpose other than having some fun. The printouts are neither big enough nor good enough for a photographer. They’re good for taking that quick passport photo when you really need it. They’re also great for something you would want to keep in your wallet or on your table. However, they won’t go into your photo album. For something with a limited utility, the LG mobile printer is just too expensive for most people. The printer is being launched at an MRP of 14990, and a pack of 30 papers cost Rs. 1099. Ten papers are bundled with the printer. The LG Pocket Photo Printer is something that will fit the drool worthy gadgets column in a magazine. It’s not something the average consumer will purchase, but will probably attract the gadget affectionados who have the moolah to splurge on the coolest new gadget in the store.