Under the heading of, Wouldn’t This Be Nice comes a concept by Mac Funamizu, an iPhone case and printer combo called Sophi1. To me it looks like it is based on the Zink inkless printers like the Polaroid Pogo. The Pogo is a printer I have been using on and off for the last several years. Lately, it has been more off than on. Why? Two reasons. First, it is cumbersome. You need to carry the printer and cable in another pocket as you photograph. When you want to photograph you have to pull it out connect it to the camera, fiddle with the camera settings, print and wait for about three minutes for the print – all the while hoping the batteries won’t die. Which brings me to the second and main reason I haven’t been using it, the batteries seem to drain quickly and you’re always wondering if you’re going to get through a print before they quit on you. I can’t tell you how many times I have promised a print, only to find the battery is dead… embarrassing. Now with all that said about the Pogo, Polaroid has apparently replaced the Pogo with the Instant Mobile Printer GL10. I am sure they must have improved on the Pogo. But not having used the GL10 I can not say. So I can not comment on how the battery life is. I am told it will work with many mobile phones using BlueTooth, but apparently not the iPhone. The paper is inexpensive at only .66¢ each, so that is nice.
Then what’s so great about Sophi? Sophi attaches to your iPhone that you are already carrying, so no extra space, just extra bulk to your phone. The device runs off iPhone software so in addition to making a print of any photo you have on your phone it will also print a QR code. You can set the QR code to direct recipients to your website to view the rest of your images. The big question here is will it really work? This is a concept – and as far as I can tell that’s all it is.
Would a real printer/case have the power to run an iPhone 4 or 5 and print several prints in a day? Doubtful. Is it cool? Absolutely! Would I try one if it ever goes into produciton? In a heart beat. But until then there is always the Fujifilm (there is that name again!) Instax Camera Mini 50s to replace my PoGo Digital Photo Printer. It runs around $147 (USD) here in Malaysia and it’s prints costs close to .80¢ each. True, it does become one more thing to carry. But without any cables or menus to fiddle with and a battery that last more than four prints it’s better than the old Pogo. What about the QR code? You can do that even without the 50s, it’s called passing them a business card.