We tend to focus our efforts on phones, so it takes a special accessory to get a full review here at Recombu, but that’s exactly what the LG Pocket Photo is: fun, novel and more than likely compatible with your smartphone.
It’s got the ‘Ooooh’ factor, but will it make you go wow? We took ours around the world to put it through its paces; printing out pictures everywhere from 35,000 ft in the air to Bloomingdales on 59th and Lexington – here’s our verdict:
LG Pocket Photo review: What is it?
As the name and image above suggest, it’s a pocketable photo printer with a difference – wireless connectivity.
Loaded with NFC and Bluetooth, the LG Pocket Photo pairs with your phone after just a tap, reeling off business card sized print outs in a matter of seconds.
So whether you’re after a modern take on the polaroid to quench a nostalgic thirst, want a new-school Canon Selphie without the bulk, or are just looking for a novelty gadget to show off to friends and strangers, on first impression, the LG Pocket Photo fits the bill.
LG Pocket Photo review: Design
We mentioned Canon Selphies and Polaroids. Both contraptions are significantly larger than the relatively pocketable, certainly portable LG Pocket Photo.
Measuring around 3-inches wide, 1-inch deep and 5-inches long, while it will fill up a baggy pocket, you’ll hardly feel it in a back pack.
Available in black and white, the design is generally inoffensive, unless you have an aversion to hearts. Why hearts? The flat panels on the top and bottom of the photo printer sport a total of 1470 teeny-tiny raised hearts.
With no buttons vying for your attention on the hearty panels, the silver banding around the printer is where you’ll find the power button to the left and microUSB port to the right.
Prints come out of the slit on the bottom side while the top is where you put the paper in through a spring loaded door.
What we really love about the design of the LG Pocket Photo Printer is that it doesn’t look like a printer. The non-descript box looks attractive, so immediately gets an “Oooooh” when you pull it out, but the next question is usually – “What’s it?”.
This design neutrality, kitschness and portability marry to make the LG Pocket Photo printer a design win – round one over and it’s looking promising.
LG Pocket Photo review: Ease of use
There’s a power button for pressing, a micro USB port for charging and a tray door for putting paper in. As far as printers go, this is about as easy as it gets.
Before you can do any printing though, you’re going to need to get the LG Pocket Photo app on your Android or iOS device.
Once the app has downloaded, just open it up, find the photo you want to print, using the app’s photo explorer and tap the print button.
Your phone will then look for the Pocket Photo, and on the proviso it’s switched on, will locate it and print.
The app also supports basic image editing, a number of filters not to mention annotation and photo frames.
If you’re lucky enough to have an Android phone with NFC, it’s all even easier. With a photo open in the Android gallery, a tap of your phone atop the Pocket Photo and the two are paired using NFC, initiating a print out.
The simplicity of the process ensures the fun factor is at the forefront of the experience – this is a gadget you can show off pretty quickly, and it doesn’t tend to stuff up too much, so won’t leave you high and dry with a techy angst in front of expectant onlookers.
LG Pocket Photo review: Print quality
We mentioned that the LG Pocket Photo prints out roughly business card sized prints. Immediately, this should turn people looking for a serious printer off, and rightly so – this thing isn’t going to replace Jessops or wherever else you get your 6x4s and 7x5s printed.
It’s great that the system uses ZINK printing – which stands for zero ink, so there are no ink cartridges to buy. Instead, the paper is loaded up with the colours underneath the white top layer. When it passes through the printer, heat is applied to react with the paper, pulling out the relevant colours.
This is incredibly clever, but unfortunately, in the case of the LG Pocket Photo, isn’t particularly high quality.
Pictures from the Pocket Photo tend to look dull, under detailed and occasionally have blue streaking across them, especially if the battery is low.
All isn’t lost though; the printer is extremely good at something traditional prints have all but lost: fun-factor. The simplicity of the process, the size of prints and ironically, the slightly wonky quality help focus attention on simple, unadulterated enjoyment.
LG Pocket Photo review: Value for money
In this Instagram world where picture quality isn’t really key, LG has tapped into that quick-fix, fun-on-tap formula. At a steep £129.99 and 55p per sheet though would we recommend it for novelty alone?
Against our sensibility, yes.
Maybe not for you, but probably for someone you know.
The LG Pocket Photo is the single gadget that’s garnered more attention from onlookers than any other we’ve reviewed. In the office, in a bar, on the plane, at the hotel reception, at the hotel check-in, mid-editorial meeting; this thing turned grown men and women into dumbfounded big kids.
What differentiates the LG Pocket Photo even more is the fact that its appreciators weren’t generally techy. In fact, it got the biggest ‘oohs’, ‘aahs’ and ‘wows’ from the general public – a mother with her two daughters in a department store, a barista in a coffee shop and a flight attendant mid-flight.
LG Pocket Photo review: Conclusion
The wow factor of the LG Pocket Photo partly justifies the price, as does the fact that there’s nothing else on the market that directly competes with it.
With support for multiple operating systems and its ease of use, LG has delivered something anyone can pick up and get printing on, whatever his or her technical prowess.
There’s no getting away from the mediocre print quality. The pictures aren’t particularly useful either, so we can’t see a productivity angle to the LG Pocket Photo.
Setting you back just shy of £150 for the printer and a pack of paper, it’s going to be a tough sell to most. If you are feeling extremely self indulgent, or are looking for an incredibly fun, instantly gratifying gift for an iOS or Android user though, we can’t think of many things more so than the LG Pocket Photo.