Polaroid unveiled their SC1630 Smart Camera at CES, an Android-powered device that aims to bridge the gap between point-and-shoot devices and smartphones. It’s a valiant first effort, but there is much work to be done before the SC1630 can carve out a niche for itself. Without even powering the device on we were attracted to the retro stylings of the device, even if upon further inspection the textured plastic front comes off as a bit cheap. Moving deeper into the Android OS don’t expect much power here, but there is Market access that allows users to download applications, whether it be additional camera software or Angry Birds.
The camera sports a 16MP sensor, 3x optical zoom, and 5x digital zoom. You are going to get much better distant shots than you would ever find on smartphone, but image quality does start to get grainy once you reach the digital zoom levels. Overall image quality was a definite step up. The real issue is the amount of time it takes to get from standby to photo. The process is too involved. First you have to remove the phone from standby. Then the device must be switched to camera mode. Finally a photo can be snapped, but it isn’t without delay. The whole process means you might miss your best shot. A newer version of Android could cut down on the amount of time slightly (Android 4.0′s zero shutter lag would be much appreciated here).
The SC1630 feels like an older point-and-shoot with a few bells and whistles built in. It does get the benefit of enhanced photo sharing capabilities (thanks to Android) and an optional instant printer allows for classic Polaroid action. Shaking won’t make it go faster.
Though there is room for improvement, the Polaroid SC1630 will definitely appeal to some folks. Think social networkers or those who love to share their photos instantly both physically and digitally. It might even give you the opportunity to snap off a few paparazzi approved shots of Justin Beiber. [Disclaimer: photo not taken with the Polaroid Smart Cam]