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As many of you know, it’s been just about 10 months since Polaroid left behind their “instant film” line for the digital camera market. Ten months since Polaroid made the biggest mistake of their damned life.

As I have two of their instant film cameras and having used them for everything from my old day job of busting perps (mug shots!), a date in San Diego (she was hot), to a visit from an out-of-town friend (www.facebook.com/joshcomics), I would consider myself pretty familiar with that line of products. I’ve always enjoyed the flipping up of the flash, that whirring sound of electricity and the instant suspense of “Did I screw that up, or is it AWESOME?”

I figured, if they left that all behind for digital cameras, then they probably put some serious work into their digital cameras. Not wanting to haul my giant old Kodak digital camera with me around Chicago during my recent Riot Fest trip, I perused the cameras at one of my local corporate big-box stores. I settled on the Polaroid i1037, the top of their “I series” of cameras (middle of the road). A 10 megapixel camera with a standard 3x optical zoom. With a variety of settings, and a good sized screen, I figured it would be perfect for super-touristy shots like those of the Cloud Gate, AKA “The Bean” as well as some shots from inside the venue of the bands that were sure to be rocking my world.

I spent the night before my trip messing with the settings and seeing what was good for low-light and what was fine for regular-light. It was spotty at best. Best is not what I got on my trip to Chicago. What I got was pictures during the day that I felt could have been achieved by a nice disposable camera, and night shots that varied between blurry as hell and “Is that the band, or a UFO?” At one point, I whipped out my trusty Palm Centro cell phone, held it side by side with the Polaroid and snapped identical pictures. As you can see, the cell phone picture is clear and readable, while the 10 megapixel, 3x optical zoom, 4x digital zoom, multi-mode digital camera looks like I was having a seizure while I took the picture.

Polaroid, you’re killing me here. I am off to go purchase some instant film off of some schmuck on eBay because I sure as hell can’t get it from you. I hope you can live with yourselves. Your site says “Polaroid products help you create memories you can share instantly.” This is true- I was able to instantly share my memory of disappointment.

OK-Ready? shot on the left – POLAROID, to the right, Palm Centro!

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SEE!?!? Weak.

–Jonathan Yost