26th February 2024 10:19 am
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Fujifilm Instax Link Wide Review: Printing Memories

Over the past few years we have reviewed and enjoyed several instant film devices from Fujifilm. They have usually been great at tapping into nostalgia, but often proved too expensive or too niche to recommend to larger audiences.

So where does the new Instax Link Wide fall? It is the latest device from the Japanese firm’s Instax division, serving as a wider format printer that pairs with your phone via an app to pull images from your gallery to replicate in instant film.

On the surface of it, the Link Wide should be essential for fans of the medium, especially as it can leverage the quality of your phone’s camera to yield better pictures, but does it have wider appeal?

We spent the past couple of weeks with the Instax Link Wide, sharing prints with friends and family alike to see whether it is indeed worth the R2 499 (RRP) price tag.

Here are our thoughts on what could be the gadget for those who have everything or simply want to print nostalgia-tinged versions of camera roll memories.

 

Simple and straightforward

Let’s start with design and while it might sound like an oversimplification, the Link Wide is very much a wider version if the Mini Link, which yields prints akin to what we get from the usual Instax cameras (excluding the Square models).

At 62mm by 99mm, the wider prints (which are purchased separately in packs of 10) to offer a bit more real estate and proportions that better suit images taken in landscape. As such, if you’re wanting to print large group photos or images of architecture, the wider format (1260×800 dots) lends itself well to that.

As for the actual device itself, it is relatively lightweight at 340g and while the Link Wide is swathed in plastic it does appear quite robust. As such, you don’t feel the need to be too delicate with the device, although throwing it around is ill advised, even in the best of scenarios.

The design is quite simple, with the rectangular block of Link Wide similar in size to an external hard drive or CD reader. As such, it should not take up too much space, and with its own dedicated stand, can be position upright if you are so inclined.

There’s also a single microUSB port to facilitate charging (full battery yields up to 100 prints), while Bluetooth connectivity is required to pair and print images from your phone, which we will touch on shortly.

Back to the design and the rear of the device houses the mechanism for loading new print packs, with a simple push tab used to open the door that features said pack. As with all Instax models, the moment you place the pack in the door and close it, a dummy print will be processed to ensure things are functioning correctly.

Now for the app which is needed to bring the Link Wide to life. There is both an iOS and Android version and during our review time, we opted for the one found on the Google Play Store.

Digitally powered

Just a note here that Fujifilm likes to design individual apps for each of its Instax devices, with one for the Mini Link and LiPlay existing alongside a separate one for the Link Wide. Why the Japanese firm could not simply stick to one unified digital app is unclear, but nevertheless, the app is easy as it comes to download.

Get it paired proved a little more difficult, with the Link Wide not being picked up by the app native software. We instead had to pair it “manually” in our Bluetooth settings after a few minutes of inactivity.

Once paired though, things ran smoothly, as we were quickly accessing our gallery to see which images we wanted to print. From there you have a few options available to decide on the quality of the print you want and collage layouts, as well as different effects and adding text in varying styles, colours and fonts to the image before hitting the print button.

As such, you get several more options compared to your standard Instax camera and that is where the value of the Link Wide begins to show. Sure, you don’t quite have that saturated nostalgic look that comes with a regular Instax, but it can very easily be replicated with some editing.

Added to this is the fact that the prints yielded are truly bright, vibrant and detailed, with the latter element usually something that is lost with normal instant cameras. It remains to be seen how these prints age over time, but for right now the nuance they bring to the table definitely make them superior.

And this is why opting for an Instax printer is a far better option than a Instax camera in our opinion. You get all the nostalgia that comes with the camera, but none of the setbacks in terms of the limiting hardware.

Final verdict

At R2 499 (RRP), the Instax Link Wide is not cheap by any means and is really designed for people who are fans of the medium.

If you are in this category, the benefits of a printer over a camera are fully evident based on the prints it yields. We also think the wider format lends itself to a larger variety of photography, not to mention the ability to edit images on app before printing being quite useful and adding a degree of personalisation.

It all boils down to how much you’re going to use the Link Wide and if you plan to use it regularly, the asking price and cost of prints is a little easier to stomach.

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