CES 2019: Instant Printing is the Future for Nostalgia-Laden Kodak and Polaroid

11 January 2019

Instant camera brands have been busy in recent years, bringing the iconic analogue prints back to life, and slap bang into the 21st century.  The new wave of models that combine the tradition of an instant print with digital technology to store, enhance and share, have hit the spot for light-hearted photographers looking for fun with a kick of nostalgia.

At CES 2019, while we saw Kodak continue this theme with a not-yet released negative to smartphone scanner and its newest vintage-inspired Smile range, Polaroid showcased a different kind of instant printing: 3D.


The newest addition to Kodak’s line of digital film scanners links up to your smartphone from a…cardboard box?  The build-it-yourself model is light and compact enough to carry around, allowing users to scan film negatives directly to their phone for enhancing and sharing.  Not yet released, the model is expected to cost an affordable $39.95 when it launches.  We saw it in action at CES 2019…

Also showcased for the first time at CES 2019, Kodak’s new Smile range – which includes two instant digital cameras and a mobile printer -is designed to give you a decent dose of nostalgia. The most advanced product in the lineup is the Smile Classic Instant Print digital camera, which comes in a Polaroid-inspired design with a pop-up viewfinder, an automatic strobe flash, a microSD slot and a 10-second timer.  You can print directly from the camera or connect it to your phone via Bluetooth to edit before printing onto 3.5 x 4.25-inch zero-ink (Zink) paper.

Meanwhile, the Kodak Smile Instant Print digital camera is very similar to the Kodak Printomatic (and the Polaroid Snap) – it has a 10MP digital camera that prints onto Zink paper – but this time the styling veers towards nineties nostalgia in a matt black body with a flash of yellow.

Finally, the Smile instant digital printer loses the camera altogether, allowing the user to print out photos directly from your iOS or Android device via the Kodak companion app.

We spoke to Kodak about how it see its position in this new market, continuing to draw on its analogue heritage in a digital world:


With its retro styling and characteristic multi-coloured strip, Polaroid’s latest product is unmistakably Polaroid.  But the product itself is a stark departure from what the brand is known for: an affordable desktop 3D printer. 

Hoping to make 3D printing accessible to a consumer market, the €449 PlaySmart can print via Wi-Fi, USB, mobile app or SD card.

Capable of printing multicoloured objects of 120mm x 120mm, users can download and import models, including pre-existing designs available for free. It is due for release throughout Europe from 1 March 2019.

Polaroid also showcased its most recent range of digital cameras and printers: the Mint collection. First launched in June 2018, the Polaroid Mint is the latest in a range of products that aim to reestablish the nostalgic icon’s niche in a photography world dominated by smartphones.

The Mint Instant Print Camera houses a 16MP digital sensor that can be set with a self-timer, and prints 2×3-inch full-colour prints, with the classic Polaroid border.