Tomy XIAO Digital Camera Packs Portable Printer

Small wonder - portable pics for photogs on the go!Small wonder - portable pics for photogs on the go!
Remember those clunky Polaroid instant cameras of the 1960s and 1970s? The instant camera is back, and it's better than ever! Forget Polaroid, though, Tomy's XIAO is a 5 megapixel digital zoom camera that prints full color photos using Zink inkless paper. Although it's not as practical as current stand-alone digital camera printers, the XIAO stands alone in a market niche others have ignored.

The TOMY XIAO™ TIP-521 Digital Camera with Built-in ZINK Printer, as it's officially called, makes few if any sacrifices in order to satisfy those who seek to print photos on the go. Its 5 megapixel resolution and 4x zoom capability are on par with other mid-priced mini digital cameras.

The XIAO - Chinese for "small" - also features a 2.48-inch LCD screen, an infrared port and supports SD/SDHC memory cards. The revolutionary onboard thermal line printer with 313dpi resolution really seals the deal, though.

Tomy has partnered with ZINK Imaging to create the printer, which uses inkless ZINK paper that costs 880 yen (about $9) for 20 sheets. While they don't approach professional quality, the photos are a triumph of portable digital image printing technology.

Tiny color crystals embedded in the paper are activated when a photo is taken. No need to wait, no worry about smudging, and the 2x3 inch digital photos have "sticky" backs that let you use them like post-it notes!

Here's a video from DigInfo Japan from Tomy's XIAO introductory press conference in Tokyo:


Tomy will begin selling the XIAO on November 28 in Japan but North Americans will have to wait until next spring to start instant snapping & digital photo printing. At a projected retail price of around 34,000 yen or $320, Tomy's small XIAO could be a big hit with consumers on both sides of the pond! (via Crunchgear)

UPDATE:  There are a wide variety of ZINK technology cameras now available at Amazon here and other retailers. 

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