Polaroid iON 230 Review
By Movable Type Admin
The Polaroid ION-230 is an entry-level, CMOS sensor, two-megapixel point-n-shoot camera housed in a stylish aluminum case. Its size and weight will encourage you to carry it everywhere in your pocket, purse or attached to your belt in the included case. It will be more likely found on the shelves of mass-market retailers, such as Radio Shack, than in the display cases of camera shops. The ION 230's two-megapixel images will produce up to 5x7-inch prints, and its simplicity will put the most novice of photographers at ease. The compromises made in its design favor low-price and ease-of-use over features and image quality.
The fixed focal length (non-zoom) lens produces below average results for both indoor and outdoor snapshots. Because it is fixed-focus, you won't be hampered by autofocus delays or performance issues in low light. The built-in flash has an operating range of four to six feet, and we experienced some overexposure even within this limited range. You'll be able to include yourself in group portraits because the camera has both a self-timer and a tripod mount. The ION-230 does have macro close-up capability, but the flash is disabled in this mode.
Outdoors, you will appreciate the optical viewfinder because the LCD is quite hard to read (impossible) in daylight and its brightness is not adjustable in capture mode. The LCD brightness can be adjusted in playback mode, better allowing you to review the images you have captured. Although even in ideal indoor environments the LCD's color and contrast leaves a lot to be desired. The ION-230 has a tendency to overexpose in bright sunlight, and some images have a pronounced yellowish cast.
The ION-230 has a movie mode, allowing you to record clips of up to 60 seconds at 320x240 without sound. The ION-230 is also capable of being used as a Web Cam by simply connecting it to your computer with the USB cable, and starting your Web Cam application. Microsoft NetMeeting software ships with the camera, and the ION-230 Users Guide even offers instructions on setting it up. Budget-conscious buyers will appreciate the ability to use a single camera for still photos, movie clips, and Web Cam applications.
In my opinion, the image quality borders on unacceptable; the pictures are soft, sometimes overexposed, and in many cases they have a pronounced yellowish cast. A 2-megapixel camera should produce better results but we must remember that it is using a CMOS imager, not a higher quality CCD type. Please look at our sample images and decide for yourself. At the time of this review (August, 2003) the ION-230 is available at a street price of around $200 which isn't bad considering the included extras (docking cradle, rechargeable battery, case, etc). It might be a satisfactory choice if style, size, and price are your primary purchase considerations.
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