Polaroid on Comeback Trail

Polaroid on Comeback Trail


A visit to the Polaroid booth at CES provided an interesting look at a company that has undergone radical changes since their merger with the Petters Group over 2 years ago. The company’s consumer electronics division has ramped up their plans for entry into portable media players (PMPs) , video-capable MP3 players and portable navigation devices (PNDs) markets.

All of the above were, in at least prototype form, displayed at the booth along with flat-screen HDTVs, portable DVD players, home DVD players and recorders, a new digital camera line, digital frames and, of course, the company’s staple product instant camera and film.

Visitors to the booth were quickly informed that two of its upcoming digital A/V portables will feature Wi-Fi to enable wireless sharing among Polaroid devices and downloading photos, music and video wirelessly from pre-selected content stores. The demos we eyed did so rather seamlessly.

Polaroid told us that the PMP units they will bring to market, along with one video-enabled MP3 player will feature 802.11b/g Wi-Fi and hard disk drives, with the PMP available in 40GB and 80GB versions. These two devices along with a flash memory-based MP3/video player can store digital images, play Windows Media Video (WMV) and Windows Media Audio (WMA) files, along with the ability to play multiple variations of MPEG-4.

The first unit expected to be released is the flash-based MP3/video player that will feature a 2.2-inch color screen, 512MB embedded flash memory and a microSD card slot. Expect an MSRP of around $100. One of the aforementioned PMPs will feature a large 4.3-inch screen with touch screen and a Web browser for handheld Web access via a Wi-Fi network.

On the digital camera front the company displayed their pink digicams that were the centerpiece for their Breast Cancer campaign that debuted in late 2006. The line consists of four models ranging from 5-7 megapixels. The 10 megapixel, 3X optical zoom i1032 was also on display as Polaroid has substantially expanded their digital camera offerings.

On the connected home front, Polaroid announced plans for a Wi-Fi-connected DMP and companion DMA. They told us the DEC1000 is the DMA, a unit that plugs into a TV to wirelessly stream audio, video and images from a networked PC, media server, or HDD-equipped DEC1000 DMP. The DMP can also be connected directly to a TV or audio systems to serve as the local content source in the home.

Throw in a recent endorsement deal with NFL quarterback Matt Leinart and it was quite a CES for Polaroid. The show clearly served notice that Polaroid is quietly rolling along with their core product offerings and expanding into new markets behind the strength gained since the Petters Group merger. Now, if we can only get them back at PMA.