New cameras come out every week. The latest ones have more megapixels, better low-light shooting, and even Wi-Fi built right in. Polaroid's going a different route. It's newly announced mirrorless camera has two innovative features other competing cameras in the same category don't.
What makes the iM1836 special is that it's the world's first interchangeable lens camera with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean as its operating system and full support for Android apps.
The iM1836 is also the world's first camera to have its image sensor built into its lens (10-30mm kit lens) instead of its body. By doing this, Polaroid is able to eliminate the dust that can get trapped on the image sensor when lenses are swapped in and out.
Polaroid representatives didn't acknowledge it, but if our thinking is correct, lenses for the iM1836 will probably be expensive because each compatible lens would have to include its own image sensor.
iM1836 is a pretty boring name for Polaroid's first mirrorless camera. At first glance, it looks like Polaroid cloned a Nikon J1, but after spending a few minutes with it, it's immediately noticeable that the iM1836, being a cheaper camera, is made of lower quality materials. Whereas the J1 felt like a tank, the iM1836's plastic construction feels flimsy and cheap.
So how does the Polaroid iM1836 perform? What we played with was a pre-production model. Final software tweaks could happen before it launches in Q2 this year. That said, in our brief hands-on, we found the 18-megapixel shooter to be slow to autofocus. It's 3.5-inch touchscreen display was sluggish and the HD video to be only average.
Polaroid plans to sell the iM1836 for $349, but unless the hardware and software is significantly tweaked before its release, we're worried — even if you can edit images with Android photo apps, share photos and videos to social networks over Wi-Fi or play a quick round of Fruit Ninja.
Posted on location at CES 2013 in Las Vegas. All photos taken by Raymond Wong for DVICE.