MyFirst Insta Wi – final review

Cross posted from my other blog – It’s been about a month and a half that my children have been using the MyFirst Insta Wi. You can read all previous reviews, cautionary tales, and the like by clicking here. I’m sure I’ve made no friends with MyFirst and their PR company, probably burned bridges completely, but here’s the final review.

TL;DR – kids like, parent frustrations, image quality issues, list of things to determine if you want to get it.

myFirst Insta Wi
The Insta Wi as taken by another Insta Wi from 3ish feet

Kids will love it

Yeah, the idea rocks. Being able to print out black and white thermal paper photos and stickers without parental involvement is empowering. The photos as taken are acceptable for the printer that is built into the camera. Is it a leap forward from their previous camera? A little, but only really if you want app involvement and stickers are your thing.

The Insta Wi can take a fall, has plenty of storage, and functions fairly well.

The app allows you to print stickers, draw and print, grab photos from your tablet or cell phone and print, basically whatever you can do to go through a roll of thermal paper it does it. Thermal paper is cheap as a note. Very inexpensive, although the sticker paper they use may require you to buy it from MyFirst. I have not researched this part as we’re going through stickers slewwwwwwwly.

myFirst Insta Wi
Not taken on the Wi, child is just in nonstop motion

Kids will hate it

As you can see from this -> the MyFirst Insta Wii locks up. A lot. With two in possession and in use at the same time it’s drama when one locks up and someone can’t get a photo of a mushroom without coming over to me to reset it.

I’m carrying a SIM door pushing tool any time we go out with it. Both the initial unit, which MyFirst claimed had an inferior pre-production camera, and the replacement unit they shipped, which as far as I can tell has the same camera and seems to be the same camera as the previous generation, lock up at least once every two or three uses. I go out to take photos without a reset tool, their MyFirst Insta Wi will be locked up burning an image into the screen.

SIM pushing tool I keep in my wallet, literally only because of the MyFirst Insta Wi.

This is not a huge deal if you’ve got a SIM tray popping tool or a needle handle, but it is a real problem. Said real problem could be addressed by including a reset tool that can hang on the neck strap.

About that 12mp camera

I’m going to put it simply here – I have a non-focusing CMOS camera from 10 years ago that does 640×480 (0.3mp) resolution that’s better image quality than this. It has a plastic lens, no moving parts, and image processing ability that is laughable.

myFirst Insta Wi
Not a terrible photo, but it didn’t look like that.

I have photos from 2000 from a 1998 1mp camera that are better than this (although this unit had a glass lens.) I had a digital camera from the 90’s that was 320×200 that produced better looking images than this. I have a pre-HTC EVO phone that’s better image quality. MyFirst guarantees image quality on their site. It’s not delivered in the units I have.

myFirst Insta Wi
16MP and guaranteed image quality – from their site

They have the processing power, and a 12mp sensor, and are producing JPEG images that are bloated (400K, with about 60K worth of image,) low quality blocky JPEGs (much of this is the jpeg compression settings I’m betting,) and while technically 12mp, effectively not. Sort of like streaming service 4K – sure you can output at 4K resolution but if it’s taking one dot and making it 16 dots wide and tall, it’s not 4K effective.

Will your kids notice? Probably not. I *really* have a problem with advertising aimed at parents “12mp” (or 16 in the above screenshot of their web page from a few weeks ago,) and what’s delivered.

myFirst Insta Wi
It’s blocky – you probably won’t notice as much but that’s 1:1

It’s like looking at 1980’s music videos… you start wondering how you could not have noticed. It’s how can a 12mp camera not produce web quality photos? Why does it feel like it’s producing images that were hosted on AngelFire.com?

Video… oh lord, it’s terrible if the kid is moving. Use this as a camera, not as a video camera. Low FPS, blocky, I mean what you would expect in a kid’s camera that doesn’t advertise or claim image quality.

Frustration level – elevated?

Keep a SIM popper, paperclip (thin one, not thick as it won’t fit,) or other method to press the hidden reset button. Your kids won’t be incredibly frustrated.

Parents, use the USB->MicroSD adapter they include with the unit to transfer off pictures if you want, because the units repeatedly failed and locked up while connected to my computer, as you can see in this burn-in link. It will also, at least on my system, quite often say the media needs repaired. This seemed to be regardless of what media was in the unit at the tmie.

The app does not appear to let you copy images off of the camera to your phone / tablet. The app feels mostly like it’s designed to create sticker content and draw poos to print. Not a bad thing but lacking in transferring or viewing items and while you’re connected to the camera, you’re not connected to the internet.

Room for improvement

OK, I know it sounds like I absolutely hate MyFirst. I’ve got a real problem with how the images have been represented and how only backers could comment and ask questions on their Kickstarter. I don’t hate them. I don’t hate the product.

I couldn’t get an answer in any reasonable timeframe and didn’t want parents to purchase what appeared to be relatively hot garbage (relative to the claims of image quality, 12mp, and what was produced.)

There’re problems, most of them I believe can be fixed with a firmware update, some modifications of their JPEG settings (JPTran?,) and a couple of tweaks to the existing system done in a firmware update.

One of the things that really needs to happen is a lens move. The lens is at the top right, and guess where kids fingers end up. Yup, the top right. My 6 & 8 year olds consistently are placing their fingers there. No, that’s not why the images look like that.

The charging cable goes into the side of the camera.-That dock is completely … it’s just to sit the camera somewhere. It’s got a couple of buttons but it does nothing useful. Every time your kid wants to charge this it involves putting a Micro USB cable in. Have you ever had kids and a Micro USB cable? No. Make the dock a charging platform, or make the charging port USB-C. It’s absurd in this day and age to use Micro USB for a kid’s product.

Add photo transfer in the app – I want my kid creations saved to my Google Photos. I mean, I have problems with the image quality but I want to keep ’em around. As it stands I have to remove the MicroSD card and put it in the adapter and copy the photos off. We’ve got an app that connects via WiFi… seems like this is the route to go.

Add WiFi to the WiFi: currently in WiFi mode you connect your tablet or device directly to the MyFirst Insta Wi. This downs your tablet/device from the internet during the time you’re actually working with the camera. So if you need to pop out and grab a poo emoji for your stickers, this means disconnecting from the camera, reconnecting to the internet, getting said poo emoji, connecting to the Wi again. The whole thing could be simplified if there was an option to connect the camera to existing WiFi.

Overall

Fun, needs work. If you don’t care for the sticker part, or want app connectivity, I’d advise either their previous generation MyFirst Insta 2or another OEM’s version of the first generation as I don’t believe MyFirst ever got their 1st gen firmware addressed.

The myFirst Insta Wi is available for preorder on Indiegogo.

P.S.

Paul / Pocketables / theITbaby don’t make a cent on this (unless you clicked the Amazon MyFirst / OEM links and bought something.) Bridges lit, shots fired. If you want any image samples beyond what has already been posted, drop a comment and I’ll get them. My goal is either get them to fix it before it ships, or at least have parents knowing to locate the SIM poppers that came with their cell phones.

Paul King

Paul King lives in Nashville Tennessee with his wife, two daughters and cats. He writes for Pocketables, theITBaby, and is an IT consultant along with doing tech support for a film production company.