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Review | Polaroid Zip Mobile Printer with Zink Technology

The mobile printer market has been getting quite competitive lately, with several products gaining traction with scrapbookers, art journalers, and planner fans. After some initial reluctance to join the trend, last winter I purchased a Polaroid Zip Mobile printer, and decided to give it a first try-out on the road, as it was intended to be used. And this was no ordinary trip – it was a multi-country international trip involving planes, trains, and automobiles!

[Disclosure: Some links in this article are affiliate links that earn this site a commission at no cost to the reader when a purchase is made after a click.]

Traveling with the Polaroid Zip Mobile PrinterPolaroid Zip Mobile Printer

In the photo above, the Polaroid Zip Mobile printer sits on the tray table of my seat on a Deutsche Bahn train between Paris and Frankfurt. Since the printer didn’t come with a case, it’s bundled up in the Polaroid brand neoprene printer pouch that is sold separately for about $10. I found the soft sided neoprene pouch worked quite well for my travel use but there are also hard sided zipper cases available for the printer from other companies if that would make you feel safer toting it around.

All bundled up in the pouch with supplies, the printer was about an inch and a half thick and about the size of my hand, a very manageable size for slipping in a carry-on bag. With no paper inside, the printer alone weighs about 6oz. The total weight of the pouch will depend on how much paper and what accessories you carry.Polaroid Zip Mobile Printer

Inside the neoprene pouch, I carried the printer, thirty sheets of 2″ x 3″ paper (in packs of ten), and the instructions. If you have a phone whose charging cable is micro USB, then you’re in luck and won’t need to carry a second cable for charging the printer. But if you have an iPhone or other non-micro USB phone, you’ll need to carry the Polaroid micro USB cable for charging the Zip Mobile printer. In that event, you’ll need to find another way to carry either the paper or cable (since both won’t both fit in the neoprene pouch together) or buy a larger hard sided case.

Tip – The Zip Mobile comes with a micro USB cable that is about 30″ in length. However, you may want to invest in a slightly longer one if you plan on needing to charge in locations such as airport terminals, airplanes, and trains, as these outlets can be in quite hard to reach locations. A good Amazon Basics 6 foot Micro USB cable can be had for around $6, a small price to pay to eliminate the aggravation of the cable that just barely or not quite reaches an available outlet. You’ll also need a wall charger of some kind as the Zip comes only with the cable to charge via USB from the computer, and not a wall plug.

Of course, a key element in any mobile device’s usefulness is the battery life. Polaroid advertises that the Zip Mobile’s rechargeable built-in battery will last for 25 prints. In my real world testing, it lasted through 17 prints in one printing session and then when I tried to use it again 5 days later, the battery did not have enough charge left to print.

I actually found the first sign of the battery fading was that the Bluetooth connection to the software in my iPhone 6S became very buggy and was failing to maintain connection. Then, after a couple minutes of me trying to troubleshoot the Bluetooth, the pop-up finally appeared in the software for the battery being low.

Tip – If your Bluetooth starts acting flaky on the Zip Mobile, try getting some power hooked up to it to see if it resolves (especially if it’s been in use for more than a few prints or not charged for a few days).

Polaroid Zip Mobile printer

The printer worked very well for me in every setting that I tried it out – on the train (in the top pictures), in the hotel, and on the plane (in the photo above). There was plenty of room to work with it in all of those locations. With the Zip Mobile’s rechargeable battery, I didn’t need to worry about access to power (although several of those locations had power if I needed it).

Tip – The Zip Mobile’s glossy plastic case is extremely slippery. Placed on a smooth surface like a tray table in a train or airplane, it will slip and slide around extremely easily. I recommend adding a small piece of non-slip drawer liner to your packing for the printer and using it as a mat to secure your printer to the table surface.

Printing with the Polaroid Zip Mobile Printer

To print with the Polaroid Zip Mobile printer requires using a smartphone app to send the photos to the printer (similar to printing to from your computer to your regular home printer). Instead of WiFi, the mobile device connects to the printer via Bluetooth.

When I first used the printer last winter, the iPhone app that was required to run the printer was absolutely horrible – so horrible in fact that it had only a 1 star rating on the Apple app store. That didn’t stop me from using and liking the printer, but it was (to put it mildly) a major frustration. Thankfully, that app has recently been completely replaced. The new Polaroid Zip Mobile app, while still pretty basic in functionality, seems to have fixed the major things that were broken in the old one while adding some new functions.

Printing from the Zip Mobile printer is surprisingly easy. I taught myself how to do it while traveling, just from the mini instruction brochure that came in the package. Zink printers don’t use ink, just special paper, to print so before you get started you need to load paper. That’s as easy as sliding the panel that says “Polaroid” off in the direction of the arrow that is on it. Then you open one of the foil wrapped ten sheet packs of paper, and place the stack in the paper cavity in the printer with the blue bar code sheet on the bottom. When you replace the panel and turn on the printer, it will feed out the blue sheet automatically, reading what paper is in it.

To start printing, you just open the Polaroid Zip Mobile app on my iPhone. Then you can scroll through your photos to select the one that you want to print, or you can take a photo from within the app. You can also select from a drop down that gives the option to access photos on a Facebook or Instagram account, or in Dropbox, as well as to filter your photo roll display down to certain types of photos that are on the camera roll (like saved Instagram photos).

Polaroid Zip Mobile Printer app

Once the photo is selected, then you have a selection of some basic editing functions to use. First, there’s the ability to arrange the photo the way you want on the 2″ x 3″ print (cropping). Then there are filters that can be applied (just like on instagram), along with basic editing adjustments such as brightness and contrast. Or you can also embellish the photo with fun “stickers”, and decorative frames. A custom text tool creates text that can be placed anywhere on the photo in your choice of color and font.

Polaroid Zip Mobile Printer app

Once your photo is edited and embellished how you would like it, just hit the “print” button in the upper right of the screen. The photo will go right to the printer and print with no further set-up needed, as long as the printer is turned on and the Bluetooth is enabled on your phone. (I’ve noticed that even if I have just printed a photo that I still usually have to turn the printer back on to print. It shuts down automatically to save battery life after a short period of not being used. I can’t decide if this feature is annoying or helpful.)

The Polaroid Zip Mobile app, while workable, is pretty basic. To get prints out of a system like the Zip Mobile that live up to the standards of a photography nerd like me, you have to put the best possible input into the printer. My solution to that is to use my Lightroom mobile app to do most of my major editing on my images, and then I save them to my camera roll and simply print them from the printer. It takes a bit more time but the results are worth it.Polaroid Zip Mobile printsAbove, you can see the difference that editing in another piece of software makes. The top left photo, which was edited in the Polaroid software, loses a lot of detail in the dark areas. The middle right photo was edited in the free Lightroom Mobile app, and I was able to bring out detail in the dark areas while still preserving some of the glow of the lights. On the bottom, that print shows how the Zip Mobile can print black & white, which is a great option with a low contrast photo like this to get some detail and contrast.

Tip – Images that are bright, highly saturated and with a lot of contrast get best results printing from the Polaroid Zip Mobile. Low contrast and dark images can end up looking muddy.

Polaroid Zip Mobile vs Instax Share

The Polaroid Zip Mobile’s major competitor is Fujifilm’s Instax line of products. Although most people are more familiar with the Instax cameras, Fujifilm does have what it calls a smartphone printer called the Instax Share as part of that line as well. I looked hard at both the Zip and the Instax before making my purchase of the Zip Mobile and this is what swayed my decision to the Polaroid printer over the Fujifilm printer:

Better pictures. In my research, and in my experience using a Fujifilm Instax camera and now the Zip Mobile printer, I prefer the image quality of the Zip Mobile.

Image margin. The Instax prints have a very distinctive retro look with the white borders around them that may not always work with what I want prints for. The Zip Mobile app will let me create that look if I’d like.

Image size. The edge to edge prints on the Zip Mobile are 2″ x 3″ in size, but the Instax Share (using Instax Mini film) can only print images that are 1.8″ by 2.4″.

Sticky back. Since part of the appeal of being able to print mobile is to do things like journal or scrapbook on the go, I really like that the Zip Mobile prints have a self-adhesive back. This means I can stick them in my journal without having to carry adhesive with me when traveling.

Cutting. Scrapbookers like to use our scissors! The Zip Mobile prints are scissor friendly, whereas the Instax prints can’t be cut without taking them apart in a laborious process.

X-ray safety. This was a major factor for me in making my choice. Instax prints are film that is x-ray sensitive and so when traveling through airport security must be hand-inspected to be certain that it isn’t damaged. The Zip Mobile works via heat activated ink, so is not x-ray sensitive – avoiding a major hassle dealing with the TSA at security.

Chemical Safety. When unexposed or during the developing process, Instax film contains chemicals that means the film must be handled carefully. No such precautions are necessary with Zink paper.

Speed. An Instax print takes as long as ten minutes to develop, whereas a Zink print from the Zip Mobile is finished the moment it pops out of the printer.

Cost. This isn’t cheap technology to use no matter which printer you select, but the Zip Mobile is the decidedly less expensive of the two mobile printer options to buy and use. The Zip Mobile printer is about $50 cheaper to purchase, and the paper for it (even in the largest most discounted quantities for both) prices to about 10-15 cents a print cheaper than Instax Mini film on Amazon.com.

A mobile printer like the Polaroid Zip Mobile isn’t going to replace your regular home photo printer, but for scrapbooking and journaling on the go, or for special events, it’s a fun tool that can help you get your stories recorded faster. Despite the frustrating start with the old version of the app, I’m happy that I have my printer and look forward to using it for many more projects!

Mommy Lhey February 2017 Little Bits Box Unboxing | Review

Mommylhey Little Bits Box

For those who love adding cute and colorful paper accents to their planners and traveler’s notebooks, the Mommy Lhey Designs “Little Bits Box” is a fun way to do it. I love planner supplies, but with my work and school schedule I don’t seem have time to go to very many stationary and planner shows. I have some favorite designers that I keep an eye out for, but otherwise I just don’t have time to do much searching for new products. When I heard that Mommy Lhey had a created a monthly subscription box which started in January, I jumped up and ordered it. I have purchased the “Little Bits Boxes” in the past when they were sold individually, however they sell out fast and I missed out on quite a few of them. Lhey Ralston is one of my favorite designers. She designs these adorable whimsical box sets that just make me smile every time I look or use bits and pieces from a “Little Bits” box.

Mommy Lhey Little Bits Box

The Mommylhey “Little Bits” Box works a little differently than some of the other subscription boxes that are available. You pay for the box a month in advance. So since I joined in January 2017, my first box was the February 2017 box, which I just got two weeks ago. She pays close attention to the items she includes in each box, and if something does not come up to her standards, the box may be delayed a little so she can get it resolved. Each monthly stationary subscription box includes a card from Mommy Lhey that has all the items in the box listed. For those who are visual people like me, I am going to list what came in the Little Bits planner supply box and add a picture of each item. The theme for the February 2017 Box is “Fresh Picked” and it contains a variety of stationary items. She personally designs the papers for each box and makes them two sided so you can choose which side you like best. Below are the items that were included in the February Fresh Picked Stationery box.

Mommylhey Little Bits Box Pattern Papers side A

There’s three sheets of  colorful patterned papers (with front and back designs on them) with the sweet “fresh picked” theme.

Mommy Lhey Little Bits Box Pattern Papers Side B

The package of six journaling cards are very colorful and still small enough for me to use in my hobonichi planners.  These were in the same color family as the die cuts.

Mommy Lhey Little Bits Box Journaling Cards

The Mommy Lhey die cuts are really well done and made of a thicker card stock than most.

Mommy Lhey Little Bits Box Die Cuts & Ephemera

The box also contained a package of enamel dots, which is probably the only thing I was not excited about. I tend to not use them because they add too much dimension to my planner pages.

Mommy Lhey Little Bits Box Enamel Dots

There was also this great package of  watermelon slice sticky notes!

Mommy Lhey Little Bits Box Sticky Note pad

The box also contained a package that held eight Sticker Sheets which is one of the largest amounts of stickers that I found a monthly subscription box to have without paying an extra fee for more stickers. Most boxes have two to four pages of sticker sheets. Below is a sampling of the stickers that came in the box:

Mommy Lhey Package of Eight Sheets of assorted stickers

Mommy Lhey Planner Stickers

Mommy Lhey Box Planner Stickers

This month, Mommy Lhey included a cute 2″x3″ stamp set that is the perfect size to use in my various planners ( an A5 Planner, Personal Planner, and some  Hobonichi planners). I am so glad that she used the fruits for tiny accent stamps and  had a little girl eating a watermelon for the larger stamp. I don’t think I would have had much use for a large fruit stamp. Since the stamp set is so small, these stamps also worked well in my micro traveler’s notebook. If you use them in a Hobonichi, just be careful what ink you use, though. Some inks really show through on the Tomoe River paper.

Mommy Lhey Little Bits Box Stamp Set

She always includes a planner clip and charm in each box. For the February 2017 Little Bits box, she has included a cute little girl planner paper clip and an adorable cactus planner charm.

Mommy Lhey Little Bits Box Planner Clip & Planner Charm

I’ve looked a long time for one stencil that works in both my A5 planner and my Hobonichi Weeks Planner. I really like this stencil because it is small enough to fit in my Hobonichi Weeks box and it has a great assortment of useful designs like squares, flags, arrows, circles, checkmarks and more. She manages to fit quite a bit of shapes into a small stencil. You can see that there is some slight excess plastic on the arrow cut out, so I just cut it with scissors and smoothed it out with a nail file so that it would work perfectly.

Mommy Lhey - Planner Stencil

There’s also a pom pom pen and a “MyPrima Glue Pen” by Prima Marketing. I love this glue pen. It fits right into my pencil bag and I can easily carry it around with me. It also works very well at adhering my paper items. My daughter loved the pom pom pen because it had a fun plaid design on it.

My Prima Glue Pen and a Pom Pom Pen

Of course, it would not be planner supply box if she did not include a roll of washi tape. This month’s washi tape has a strawberry theme.

Mommy Lhey Little Bits Box Washi Tape

I feel this monthly subscription box gives me a lot of value of the monthly fee of $24.99 (plus shipping).  I really enjoy all of Lhey Ralston’s designs and look forward each month to her new releases. You can see more of Lhey Ralston’s design on her instagram page @mommylhey or her Facebook page.

[Note: this is an unsponsored post. I am a paid Mommy Lhey subscriber.]

How To Sew Your Own Traveler’s Journal Cover

Traveler’s journals are hot right now, and they are perfect for creating mini scrapbooks while you are actually on your trip. But did you know that it is surprisingly easy to create your own cover that is themed to your trip? In only a few steps, you can learn how to sew your own traveler’s journal cover!

[Disclaimer: Some links in this article are affiliate links to Amazon.com that pay this site a commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase after clicking.]

How to sew your own traveler's journal cover

Since I was anticipating spending a few days in Paris as part of my trip to Creativeworld in Frankfurt, I decided to make myself a Paris themed journal to record this long-awaited trip. My traveler’s journal cover holds three Midori Traveler’s Notebook refills – just enough to have one for each day in Paris, and one for my time in Frankfurt at the show.

How To Sew Your Own Traveler's Journal Cover

You do not have to be an advanced skill sewist to learn how to sew your own traveler’s journal cover. There are no fancy techniques in this project. It’s about choosing the right materials and tools. If you can use an iron and an eyelet setter, and sew a straight line, you can make your own traveler’s journal cover for your next trip!

DIY Traveler’s Journal Supplies:

How To Sew Your Own Traveler’s Journal Cover:

1) To begin, cut your fabric and interfacing to sizes indicated in supply list.

I selected a Paris themed fabric for my journal, to fit my theme, and used the same fabric for the inside and outside of the journal. If you’d like to have different colors or patterns on the inside and outside of your journal, just cut each 10″ x 12″ fabric panel from different fabrics. This project is great for using up leftover fabric!

ByAnnie’s Soft & Stable, if you have never used it, is what is known as “headliner” fabric – an extremely thick sewable interfacing that is perfect for giving structure to projects like bags and totes. Using it adds a whole new level of professionalism to your sewing, and it makes a great shortcut to stiffen this traveler’s journal cover.

2) Following the package instructions, iron a piece of the Thermoweb Heat’n Bond Lite onto one side of each of the pieces of Soft & Stable. Center each of the pieces of Soft & Stable on top of the back side of a piece of the fabric with the Heat’n Bond side down, and iron to adhere.

3) You should now have two pieces of fabric with a piece of Soft & Stable adhered to the center of the back of them, with a half inch of fabric showing all around it.

4) Fold the corners of the seam allowance in diagonally and iron in place. Then fold over the sides and iron in place as well. (By folding the corners in first, this will leave you with nice clean mitred corners!)

5) After trimming it down slightly, iron the remaining sheet of Heat’n Bond Lite onto the back of one of the cover pieces. Then lay the other cover piece back to back with it, make sure they are correctly aligned, and iron to adhere them together with the Heat’n Bond.

6) Sew around the outside edge of the covers with a sewing machine, stitching approximately 1/8″ from the edge. If necessary, pin the two covers together to keep the edges aligned while sewing.

How to sew your own traveler's journal cover

Now you have the structure of a cover, but it needs attachments for the journal books. My finished cover looked like the photo above. It has two loops of elastic cord, anchored in different ways to hold the three journal books.

First, you need to create the eyelets that are the anchors of the whole cord system.

7) Using a tool like a CropADile or a leather punch, make two holes 5/32″ or slightly smaller that are centered 1/4″ in from the edge along the center fold of your traveler’s journal cover.

8) Place the 5/32″ two part eyelets in the holes and firmly set them using the Dritz 2 Part Eyelet Tool.

how to sew your own traveler's journal cover

9) Cut a piece of round elastic cord that is slightly more than twice the height of your traveler’s journal cover. Thread it snugly through the eyelet holes and knot it at the bottom of the outside of the cover’s spine. Snip off the excess cord and apply Dritz Fray Check to keep the ends from fraying.

how to sew your own traveler's journal cover

10) For the second cord, cut a piece of cord just slightly longer than the distance between the two eyelets. Fold the cord in half and holding both strands together, tie a half knot to create a loop. Trim the ends and apply Dritz Fray Check to secure them.

11) Thread the loop through the eyelet at the top of the traveler’s journal cover, leaving the knot on the outside of the cover. Pull the loop so that it lays underneath the elastic that is threaded through both eyelets. (See picture after #6 above for reference.)

how to sew your own traveler's journal cover

12) Open a journal book to the center staples and slide it under the loop that goes through both eyelets. Close the journal book, capturing the elastic in the center page. This book is now your center of the three journal books.

how to sew your own traveler's journal cover

13) Insert the center page of a journal book through each of the elastics on either side of the center journal book.

how to sew your own traveler's journal cover

14) To keep your journal closed, cut a piece of round elastic cord that fits snugly around the closed journal and tie it. snip the ends and treat with Dritz Fray Check to protect from fraying.

Your journal is complete! I chose three blank books for my journal, but there are lined, graph, and plenty other types of Midori journal books available. Mix and match to create space for writing and drawing, or whatever else you can imagine!

Once you know how to sew your own traveler’s journal cover, it is easy! You won’t be able to stop making them! I’m already planning my next one!