Friday, January 11, 2008

Going inkless

Maura Welch over at Boston Filter had a post yesterday on the new ultra-cool Polaroid ink-less printer, which was showcased at this week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Now, I'm not normally the gadget type - nor am I anyone's idea of an early adopter. Not me, I tend to be a second-waver - or a scrounger. My first cell phone, microwave oven, and digital camera were hand-me-downs from those upgrading to cooler technology. (Thanks again to my friend George for that phone, clunker that it was; thanks to Kath and Rick for the microwave which, as you know, lasted until last year; and for the new-to-me digital camera which I finally figured out how to use.)

While I won't exactly be running out to get one, the new little Polaroid camera is really a honey. And make that an inkless honey, with the inkless technology coming from Polaroid spin-out Zink, which I blogged about last summer.

Here's a bit more from the CNN article on the show.

The 8-ounce printers, a bit bigger than a deck of cards, are due to go on sale around back-to-school time for about $150, Polaroid and Zink announced Monday at the International Consumer Electronics Show.

Once connected to a phone or camera by Bluetooth wireless or the USB port, the printers need less than a minute to churn out 2-inch-by-3-inch pictures, which can be peeled off a backing and used as stickers. Sheets of paper for the device will cost about 40 cents each, less if bought in bulk.

Be sure to click through to the video, where you get to see it in action. (You also get to see a new "smart massage" chair; a voice-activated GPS system, of which you ask "Where am I" [Talk about Pink Slip blog-fodder!]; and something that turns your cell phone into a projector.)

What I really love about this little Polaroid printer is what it bodes for the future.

Just think, once inkless printing technology makes its way into the consumer printer market, the printer cartridge disappears, and with it the entire concept of shaking the printer cartridge to get a few more weeks out of it. Years from now, doddering old croakers will talk about the onerous task of shaking the printer cartridge, but in a tone that is somewhat prideful about how in the sensible and frugal days of the early twentieth century, we didn't just toss away a printer cartridge when the warning message came up and told us to replace it.

No, in our time, the doddering old croakers will say, we knew the value of $75 (minus the $3 recycle kick-back for bringing back the old cartridge). So instead of following the printer's order to go out and spend money, we instead shook the living daylights out of that cartridge, thus deferring our purchase of a new one by a good 3 weeks. And if you add up all those 3 weeks over a few years time, you find that every 5 years, you manage to save $75 - a good $15 a year that we could spend on five gallons of gas or a few Frappuccinos.

Ah, the old croakers will say, in 2008 we knew the value of $15. And, in our day, we never just threw anything out, other than half the vegetables we bought in bulk at the farmers' market and let rot in our refrigerators. And last year's must-have electronic device because this year's comes in colors and is a little thinner. And all the plastic cups those Frappucinos came in.

Other than that, the old croakers will say, we weren't a throw-away, disposal culture like we have now....

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