This week’s Editor’s Pick was a recent choice for Gadget of the Week. The new distinction is awarded to products that represent a significant technological advance, or an outstanding approach to innovation or user needs. Fujifilm’s Instax Mini Link 2 is the Editor’s Choice for the week beginning October 10, 2022.
What is that?
Three years ago, Fujifilm surprised the market with the Instax Mini Link, a portable printer designed specifically for smartphone photos. Now it has released a second generation of the device, the Link 2, which builds on the lessons of the original and adds some exciting new features.
It’s a competitive market, with Polaroid and Kodak turning to on-site printing of smartphone photos to help them come back from the dead. In some departments, their portable printers are superior, but they can’t match the cool credentials of Instax devices.
It is a rechargeable printer, using Bluetooth to transfer images from a smartphone. More importantly, the Link 2 is fast: from the moment an image is transferred from a smartphone to the device, it starts printing in around 15 seconds and can produce around 100 prints per charge.
It features an amazing innovation that sets it apart: InstaxAiR, an augmented reality (AR) effect that works through the dedicated Link 2 app. It allows users to add graphic effects to prints, including bubbles, petals, neon, spray paint, or a glitter look.
But it’s not as impressive as “draw in the air”: by holding the printer, pressing the function button on the top and aiming the side LED lens to draw in the air, what is drawn then appears on the print preview in the app. If the user is happy with the image and presses print, the “air drawing” appears on the photo which is then printed.
Fujifim has added another solidly social element to this feature, emphasizing that it’s not just about throwing specs at the device. They can record a video of the drawing in progress and share it as a QR code that appears on the print. Anyone can then scan the QR code and view the video on their own phone, download it or share it on social media.
Other features include customizing Instax prints with picture modes, design frames, stickers and more.
Fujifim says, “The Instax Mini Link 2 app contains a variety of design elements that can be layered over the selected image for a one-of-a-kind Instax instant print. Users can also use their finger to draw an image on a photo; select the best artistic filters; or manually adjust the brightness, contrast and saturation of the image. If choosing between images is difficult, simply combine up to eight images into a single Instax print via the collage feature.
Finally, when printing, users can choose between two image color modes: Instax-Rich mode for deep and enhanced colors or Instax-Natural mode for a more original look.
Fujifim hasn’t forgotten about ordinary cameras in its drive to add new features to smartphone cameras. The printer can also connect to the Fujifilm X-S10 mirrorless digital camera, so images can also be printed from the camera. Capability extends to other Fujifilm digital cameras via the Fujifilm Camera Remote app.
The Link 2 can be used with the new Instax Mini Spray Art Instant Film, which features a colorful rainbow spray design that reflects light – designed to complement the InstaxAiR feature.
This new variety of films should also be available in August,
How much does it cost?
The Instax mini Link 2 printer is available in Soft Pink, Clay White and Space Blue, and sells for a suggested price of R2,799 including VAT. A pack of Instax Mini Spray Art instant films sells for an RRP of R180 including VAT.
Why is it important?
It revives the print at a time for a very specific need just when people find out they have that need. In the same way, it fills a major social void in the highly social activity of taking photos and selfies with friends and family.
What are the biggest negatives?
• Image quality is significantly lower than that of conventional photo printers.
• The cost of photo print film is high.
• The handset itself is expensive for low and mid-range phone users who haven’t paid much more than that for their handset.
What are the biggest positives?
• It is quick and easy to use.
• It looks great and adds a wonderful ambiance to the social activity.
• The ability to print a photo immediately after taking it and show it around more than makes up for the lack of glossy photo print quality.
* Arthur Goldstuck is the founder of World Wide Worx and editor of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter at @art2gee