The Polaroid camera is back, in digital

Polaroid stopped making film packs for its cameras last year, but it is now preparing to roll out a digital replacement that produces prints right on the spot.

A strange little ritual used to go along with Polaroid cameras. The shooter would grab the print as it came out of the camera and wave it in the air, as if that would stimulate the chemicals and make the picture appear faster. It didn't. Yet it felt dumb to just stand there, waiting for the picture to develop.

Polaroid stopped making film packs last year, so this little piece of tech culture will soon be just a memory. But just as the film-based Polaroid camera is fading away, along comes its digital replacement.

That's right: Polaroid was set to announce Thursday at the International Consumer Electronics Show that it is introducing a digital camera that produces prints right on the spot. You can even call them "instant" prints, but they take nearly a minute to appear, so they're only as "instant" as the old film prints.

Essentially, the $200 US PoGo is a camera that contains a built-in colour printer. It produces 5-by-7 cm (2-by-3 inch) photos by selectively heating spots on specially treated paper. It has nothing to do with the old chemical Polaroid process, but the prints convey some of the same Pop Art charm: They're grainy and the colours are slightly off, with faces tending toward a deathly blue-green.

The camera — set to go on sale in late March or early April — is a successor to a stand-alone printer Polaroid put out last summer, designed to connect to camera phones and digital cameras.