Do you sometimes find your recollection of social occasions is a little hazy? There are plenty of conveniently-sized gadgets for documenting your celebrations, from camera phones with high quality lenses and even higher megapixel counts to pocketsized HD camcorders. Fancy something more showy? How about a Polaroid all-in-one camera and sticker printer, or a camera dock that acts as your own miniature, robotic Mario Testino? Read on, revellers…
Polaroid Two, £230
A digital descendant of the original instant print camera, this uses the same thermal Zero Ink, or “Zink” technology as Polaroid’s portable PoGo printer. As a result it can capture seven-megapixel shots – interpolated from a five-meg sensor – and, within 60 seconds, produce 2×3-inch, sticker-backed prints. Built-in cropping and photo-editing features work well, even though images are generally fuzzy and lacking in detail. With light sensitivity up to ISO 1,600, pictures can be taken in low light as well as daylight, and if you don’t want to instantly print an image, you can just store it as a JPEG on an SD media card. The £230 price seems a tad high for a device that’s more amusing than functional, especially as extra packs of 70 sheets of Zink paper cost £18 a chuck. At 283g it’s heavier and chunkier than any other compact cam or ’corder, too.
LOVE: Speedy prints to share. Neat all-in-one design. Plenty of fun
HATE: Brick-like design. Short, 15-print battery life. Tiddly prints
Sony Ericsson Satio, £460
This 12-meg camphone has a 3.5-inch, 16:9 aspect ratio touchscreen for perfectly framing your photos and captures video at 640×480 pixels. It shoots to microSD cards or the 128MB of internal storage. Like most decent compact cameras, the Satio also incorporates face detection and smile detection, along with touch focus. Turn the phone on its side and you’ll find a proper helping of controls – zoom lever, playback button, stills or video capture button, plus the shutter release button. The results are great outdoors but the tiny lens doesn’t let much light in, so indoor shots can appear grainy, although the Satio’s proper xenon flash helps with this a lot. The Satio’s advantage over a dedicated cam is that it’s more pocketable and, with 11 hours of talk time, you can order a taxi should your party spirit begin to dissipate.
LOVE: Feature packed. Sleek styling. Decent screen size. Solid build
HATE: Grainy pictures in low light. Expensive if not bought on contract
Sony Cyber-shot DSCTX1 and party-shot IPT-DS1, £310
This Sony combo pairs the compact Cyber-shot TX1 camera with a Party-shot base station that pivots and swivels, using face detection and smile shutter tech to automatically snap beaming guests, leaving you free to attack the buffet table with gusto. A sensible option on its own, the responsive, ten-meg TX1 features a new Exmor R CMOS sensor for better shots in low light. It also squeezes a 4x optical zoom into its 14.1mm thick body.The Party-shot DS1 dock is powered by two AA batteries and at £100, costs the same as an entry-level camera. Results are, shall we say, “mixed”, as the dock blunders around looking for a smiling face. Photographing is intermittent at best and you tend to end up with a lot of rictus grins as subjects try to second guess the smile shutter. You’d be better off getting your drunk mate to wield the TX1, frankly.
LOVE: The TX1 is an excellent camera. The Party-shot is an interesting idea, at least
HATE: As a package it’s pricey and ineffectual
Flip Mino HD, £130
Instantly publishing hi-def, 1280×720 pixel video clips of party antics to YouTube is child’s play using Flip’s Flipshare software and flip-out USB arm, which can also be used to charge it up. The 4GB internal storage holds a maximum of an hour’s footage, so you’ll need to upload regularly. Although simple to use, the Flip Mino HD’s 1.5-inch screen is cramped, with the image further reduced to fi t a 16:9 viewing ratio. There’s no optical zoom, just a 2x digital one, and despite the “HD” monicker there’s no HDMI out, so no easy way to view clips on an HD TV. A lack of any light means that shooting in dimly-lit conditions is out of the question. Despite these flaws, the Mino is still attractive as an ultra-lightweight – just 94g – hi-def camcorder. A glossy finish and touchsensitive buttons make it more desirable and there’s a screw thread at the base for your tripod.
LOVE: Pocket-friendly dimensions. Simple HD point and shoot action
HATE: Cramped screen. No light, HDMI out, or optical zoom
Links: Firebox | Sony Ericsson | Sony | Flip