Make sure those digital memories don't get lost in the cloud

Make sure those digital memories don’t get lost in the cloud

Instax Square Link smartphone printer

Price: €150

Where to buy: Instagram

With the popularity of digital cameras and later smartphones, it may be difficult to see where instant cameras and their various accessories fit into today’s world. Digital photography led to Polaroid’s bankruptcy in the early 2000s – or its failure to innovate amidst the changes brought about by new technology to be more precise – but the subsequent rise of the smartphone gave that technology an opportunity to to make a comeback.

And come back, it has. Fujifilm’s Instax line has steadily expanded the product line, branching out from simple point-and-shoot cameras to Bluetooth-enabled photo printers.

So where exactly does the new Instax Square Link smartphone printer fit in? The Bluetooth-enabled printer offers a larger print format by using a square film that is 1.5 times the size of the original mini film, giving you more space for your photos. But the printer is designed to be taken with you on the go. It’s light and compact and has a rechargeable battery so you can take it with you. After downloading the usual companion app, the printer can be connected to various devices via Bluetooth.

The popularity of these mini photo printers may surprise some. They are not as flexible as an A4 printer with only one function in their lives to print photos. And these photos are generally small and use proprietary film.

But Instax keeps making them, so there’s something in it for the company.

There is something special about having a physical photo. On the one hand, digital photography has changed what it means to get the perfect shot. No longer limited by film capacity or capability limitations, you can take as many photos as you like until you get the shot you want. Or apply some filters, touch up and create the perfect photo from the best of a bad group.

On the other hand, it freed those of us whose lack of photographic skills would have meant a series of shots that were out of focus, underexposed or not what we wanted. Unless you were hoping for three shots of your finger covering the lens and several unidentified blurs. With digital, you know instantly what you’ve shot without having to wait for the local photo lab to develop it and deliver a disappointment envelope with some ‘helpful’ clue labels.

More useful was the ability to choose between natural colors and a more vibrant print

But although digital photos are often put on Instagram or Facebook, shared in WhatsApp groups or left in cloud storage, future generations may not have access to the same digital services that we have now.

An instant printer means you can enjoy all the nostalgia of the past but with the benefits of digital, by selecting the perfect photo to print and having it in your hands in under two minutes.

The Instax Link Square is easy to use. Once you’ve gone through the initial setup – a simple process that takes just a few minutes – and given the appropriate permissions to access photos, you can easily reprint photos or send new prints with a few taps. You can also create collages of up to nine images, but they could end up being quite small if you try to squeeze the full nine photos onto film format.

As you’d expect from Instax, the printer does more than just spit out a physical reproduction of your photo. You can add anything from digital stickers and frames to augmented reality elements to your images. The last one adds a QR code to your image that can be scanned to reveal digital items, be it a doodle, an additional photo, different backgrounds or text.

As playful as it is, it’s nice to be able to add something digital to an analog item, although I’ve never really used this feature more than a few times.

More useful was the ability to choose between natural colors and a more vibrant print. You could recreate the same effect by using filters and image editors, but it’s nice to be able to do this without fuss.

The Instax Link Square prints are something to hold onto for years. While the foil itself is not indestructible, it is certainly more durable than the average photographic print. I’ve left them on window sills, erased markers, and subjected the photos to other abuses that would have destroyed a standard photo; They survived relatively unscathed (although I wouldn’t recommend leaving them in the sun for too long).

Good

Never again will your smartphone photos be stranded in the cloud. With the Instax Link Square, you can easily print your photos or share them digitally with other Instax users via the app’s Connect feature. The augmented reality addition to printing wouldn’t make me buy the Link Square, but it’s a nice add-on that some people might find better use of. Prints are of decent quality and appear relatively quickly.

not so good

The foil itself isn’t the cheapest, and there’s more waste than I’d like in terms of packaging.

everything else

It uses a USB-C cable for charging and will get you around 100 prints on a full charge.

Verdict:

Compact, lightweight and easy to use, the Instax Link Square is a decent Bluetooth photo printer with some fun elements.

instax.com

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