First photos with the MyFirst Insta Wi (kid tech) – a warning

Update: I have been told that they believe I received an engineering sample version of the camera with a 640×480 CMOS camera and are sending another one out. I have asked what the chances are that the two cameras from last year’s batch had the exact same issue (which I was told at the time was a firmware issue,) and am awaiting a response. Yes, I have 3 MyFirst cameras (2 old, one new,) in my possession that take similarly terrible photos. October 6th is when delivery of the next camera shows and I will post pictures then.

Update 2: follow up pictures with replacement camera posted here. They’re not different.

I’ve added a tag for the MyFirst Insta Wi issues/reviews. Click here to see all of ’em.

Original article:

Let’s start off with a bit of history – the previous generation of the MyFirst camera was something I reviewed over on theITbaby a while back. I’d contacted the company about the effective photo resolution not matching the camera, pictures were blocky, artifact-y, etc. It was a combination of an OK camera sensor and a really bad setting in their JPEG compression.

TL;DR – camera image firmware bad, image quality extremely low due to this, fixable but suffers same issues the original camera did which was never resolved to my knowledge. There’s a reason they don’t highlight pictures from this camera on their kickstarter.

It was, and I stress this, completely fixable. I corresponded with tech support in May of last year. Seemed things were on track for a fix and nope. I had another instance with a smart watch of theirs, we won’t run into that (check the end of this article,) but between that and the original camera I really tired of attempting to get things to work. I also made the mistake of saying a firmware fix was incoming because I was under the impression it was. It wasn’t.

I’ve got a MyFirst Insta Wi in hand a couple of weeks back, 12mp camera, it’s pre-production, and I stress that really really a lot here. My sincerest hope is this doesn’t go to production without a fix and since I’m not getting responses from tech support I’m posting this. I think the hardware is fine, the software is cool, the feature set and printer are really really cool, but I feel they abandoned the previous camera and have fears this will be released as it stands and those pictures are terrible.

The MyFirst Insta Wi advertises 3-12mp photos. You know, you advertise 12mp photos you can really go as low as maybe 9mp effective resolution and claim oversampling, even 6mp effective resolution I’d be ok with it’s a kid’s thing. Let’s cut the crap even a 2mp picture is going to be fine for the vast majority of the end users (kids).

I’ve been going back and forth with a PR contact, and they brought in tech support, but the information I’ve received was that the effective resolution in the pictures was in the 1.4MP range. It’s not from what I can tell. – previous version of this sentence may have implied the PR was somehow to blame here, they’re not. I had this same back and forth on the last camera with tech contacts. Really. Apologies to the PR people, my bad.

So I’m going to present this here – we’re going to start with my S21 camera phone – this is overkill, this is scaled down, this is one of the better cameras you’re going to work with. This is 1/5th the resolution, cut and pasted and god knows what WordPress is going to do with it. This is the image. This looks like what I was photographing. This is better than I expect kid tech to be able to reach.

Above – relatively good image, not from MyFirst

Basically that’s the lighting, dust, and what the image actually looks like. I don’t expect the MyFirst Insta Wi to come close.

This is 4032×2880 pixels, 360K on disk. 12mp

The above picture is from the Insta Wi 12mp – 4032×2880. You should be able to click on it and view it in all its glory. It’s grainy (I have other pictures adjusted with light, they’re all grainy) and each pixel you see is several large blocks. Here’s a picture of it blown up to 100% – these large square dots are in the picture, this is not me zooming in and seeing faux grain.

Understand the above picture clip is 608×325 pixels. I couldn’t grab quite 640×480 to get a perfect comparison, but below is a 640×480 picture and what that should be capable of:

640×480, found on Wikimedia commons. How many megapixels is that? 0.3. Zero point three.

The above is what the lowest of the low resolution cameras out there can product. Should you want to see what a 12mp camera should be able to do, go over here and download the last image. I mean, that’s not an instant, but that’s the resolution. I’m trying to stress here that the image quality is unacceptable.

Here is 601×451 from my S21 phone. Slightly less than zero point 3 megapixels. 0.3 y’all

I decided to try the next setting down, below is 9mp on the MyFirst Insta Wi:

4000×2248, 309K

I can visually tell no difference between the 9 & 12mp. I took additional photos at 6 & 3mp – skipping to the 3 for sec.

This was set on 3, it saved as 12. 4032×2880, 348K

You know, I’m not sure if I shook the camera or what, but it should have been on 3. It’s smoother, but dang…

3280×1848, 230K

And finally the 6mp. Same ol’ same old.

Now, you notice that I included the size of the image on disk. This is… odd… they all seem about the same. Wonder why that is?

“OK,” you say, perhaps it’s just that dark background? Here’s a picture lit with studio lighting.

“Perhaps it’s just close-up images,” you say?

The above gallery is all 12mp, it’s all blocky as hell and I mean I’m colorblind but that doesn’t look like what I just took a picture of. Click and zoom in on any of the images.

Ok, the MyFirst Insta Wi camera does a whole lot of other things… don’t get me started, they’re cool… your kids will love them even with these crappy photos. However with the last camera I got from them never having been fixed and the image quality being pretty piss poor here, my whole goal is to make sure this doesn’t hit without a firmware fix and a kid expecting a decent quality, because they let it go last time.

I can post pictures of people, pets, etc – we can go on and on, but the quality is well below a cheapy digital 640×480 camera I had in 2002 and that’s not acceptable when you’re selling a 12mp camera.

The 3G watch

Since I mentioned it above the 3G watch story – I’d been covering the MyFirst Insta and I was sent over a 3G kid tracker watch – advertisement was pretty simple – works on 3G carriers, did WiFi, video call to parents and select friends should have been available. What I got refused to work with any 3G carrier I had at the time, back and forth with them and they said finally that the only solution was to get a Cricket Wireless SIM as that was the only carrier they knew worked.

OK, so that was out, but when connected to WiFi the watch also would not video call (it claimed it was,) nor do anything particularly useful. Back and forth I went. Never a solution.

On a Ting-supplied T-Mobile SIM the 3G watch finally worked when I was roaming. Basically we discovered if I didn’t have signal and we were out in the middle of nowhere the 2G connection seemed to work.

I should note

Blogs like mine get money when we sell or promote products. You know we’re not particularly interested in selling.

We get products from PR firms and companies for not causing problems and not bashing companies.

This is not a financially smart article.

I would hate to see the next budding master photographer prodigy left with a camera that’s underperforming ancient tech we all probably have laying in the junk drawer. MyFirst can fix this before this thing goes to production, I’m just worried they won’t. Again.

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts