In the picture since 1947
You won’t be offended by representing Polaroid, the forerunner of instant photography from the 1940s, which, like Kodak, struggled to negotiate the digital shift. Liquidated, sold, taken over, the company also offers a small selection of fast printers.
In addition to the Polaroid Lab, a small device that “scans” the screen of your smartphone to take pictures in instant format, the company also markets Hi-Print.
And, a little twist in the house’s DNA, the latter uses thermal sublimation technology to print photos. Unlike other portable printers – where the ink is often placed directly into the paper – dye-sublimation uses real small ink rollers.
Portable dye-sublimation printers are noisier and slower than their instant paper or Zink rivals, and often offer much better print quality, which we will not fail to verify in this Polaroid Hi-Print test.
Price and availability
Marketed since September 2020 at a price of €99, Hi-Print hunts on the ground of Fujifilm Instax Mini Link or Canon Selphy Square QX10.
Simple and efficient operation
Apart from a few cosmetic differences, portable printers of all brands look very similar. Ergonomics are often kept to the bare minimum, with, as here, a power button, a micro-USB port for recharging the printer, the ink cartridge/paper loading slot and the photo output slot.
A simple but effective design, a bit monotonous with this lacquered white, luckily brightened by the rainbow colored outlet opening. With its dimensions (15 x 2.7 x 8 cm), the Polaroid Hi-Print is not one of the smallest mobile printers in our comparison. Nevertheless, its weight (255 g) makes it easy to carry in large pockets or in a bag.
Lots of editing options
Syncing with the Polaroid Hi-Print app (for iOS and Android) is almost instantaneous after turning on the machine. No need for an account or endless search for the device; a good point.
The app is very easy to use and you can print the selected images almost instantly. It also allows you to modify images with sliders like brightness, contrast, saturation, sharpness, etc. Nothing is forgotten on this page. A tool even allows you to “optimize” the images. There are also a ton of stickers and off word art. Finally, we can count on a large number of quite different filters.
A bit noisy
Dye-sublimation printing remains noisy. Once launched, the machine feeds the paper 4 times between its rollers (red, yellow, cyan + varnish) before finally releasing the photo.
Autonomy of 20 shots
The whole process takes about 1 min 10 s. In detail, it takes about 13 seconds for the phone to send the information to the printer. Printing then takes 55 seconds. Correct standard times for this type of printer. Similarly, there is no miracle in terms of autonomy. The machine must be recharged after 20 moves; an operation that requires a maximum of 1 hour via the micro-USB port.
Note that the small photos are printed on self-adhesive paper, which makes it possible to stick them anywhere.
A disappointing thermal sublimation
Usually, dye-sublimation printing looks more like classic inkjet printing than Instax, with good sharpness and controlled colorimetry.
A very powerful colorimetric operation
Unfortunately, this is not the case with Polaroid Hi-Print. We will return for the accuracy of the colors. According to the measurements taken with our probe, the average Delta E of the printed images reaches 14.6; which is one of the worst values measured in our labs, almost on par with a FujiFilm Instax Mini Link, which in its defense is hardly helped by the Instax instant paper.
Specifically, the only color that tends to approach the expected value of 3 is magenta, and it tops out at 6.9! The green and cyan shades slide quite noticeably, but it’s nothing compared to the gray and light shades that literally break through the ceiling of our graph. Bright or poorly saturated areas of the plates may simply disappear from the final print. Disappointing.
A weak dive
And the sharpness on Hi-Print is not much better. Admittedly, it is complicated to print a very defined photo in such a small format (54 x 86 mm), but even taking that into account, we can only be disappointed by the lack of sharpness. Perhaps it should be seen as a tribute from Pola to his instant films, minus the vintage side…
Easy to use app.
Correction/retouching of images via the app.
Aesthetics and design.
Very inaccurate colors.
The prints are not sharp enough.
Prints a little noisy.
How does grading work?
Polaroid Hi-Print is a user-friendly printer that has a flexible and comprehensive mobile app. For the rest, we are more skeptical. The printed colors are very inaccurate and the sharpness level very low. Shame. The object is fun and efficient in its operation, but you should not expect a faithful reproduction of the images, although one could agree that this is not necessarily the first criterion for buying such an object.