Just don’t expect stellar photo quality
HP is a company that makes printers in all shapes and sizes, but its compact Sprocket photo printer might be the smallest we’ve ever seen. Not much bigger than a smartphone, the Sprocket allows you to instantly print photos you’ve just taken without ink anywhere you wish, though you’ll be trading portability with variable print quality. Still, it’s a great gadget for people who still like the charm of having physical printed photos.
Not much bigger than a smartphone and just as portable
The HP Sprocket is about the size of a compact camera and is just as easy to bring around with you. There isn’t much to the printer to be honest – just a slot in one side where the printed photos come out, a button on the side to turn it on and a micro USB cable to charge it.
To access the print bay you simply slide the cover of the printer upwards where the logo sits and place the Z-Ink paper facedown. The printer connects to your phone via Bluetooth, and you operate it via its own dedicated app via iTunes or the Google Play Store.
Doesn’t Use Ink For Photos
HP’s able to shrink the Sprocket down thanks to the Zink technology that it uses. Simply put, the printer has no ink inside of it. All of the magic happens in the photo paper that you buy specifically for it, which measure in at 2 x 3 inches. Zink tech, developed by Polariod embeds the the colors into the paper, which are then activated with the printer with pulses of heat of different length and intensity from a thermal print head.
Since there’s no need for ink, the only thing that users will have to worry about is buying the Zink photo paper for the printer, which costs around Php 540 for 20 sheets in Lazada. The photo paper also has adhesive backing in the rear so you can stick it to scrapbooks and other surfaces if you want to.
Works as advertised, but print quality is hit and miss
HP’s Sprocket is relatively easy to use, and has instructions in the box when you buy it on how to connect it to your phone via Bluetooth. The app also allows you to put on stickers, borders and other stuff into the photos that you want to print, though you can use your own photo-editing software on your phone before printing, since the app allows you to print almost anything that’s on your phone as long as it’s in the correct file format.
Printing is pretty fast, and once you send your photo to be printed you’ll have to wait just 50 seconds before you get a physical copy of it in your hands.
As far as Zink’s image quality goes, it’s hit or miss. Sometimes the photos print pretty well, with good color reproduction when compared to what’s on your phone’s screen but sometimes it has odd streaks and discolorations that sometimes ruin the image. It’s not bad for 2 x 3 size photos as we weren’t expecting gallery-quality prints from such a tiny thing, but it’s a little hard not to be disappointed with the quality of the prints, especially since you’re paying Php 27 for a single print.
The Sprocket has enough battery to print 30 photos on a single charge. Charging the thing up from 0 to 100 takes 90 minutes.
Verdict: It’s fun and quirky, but don’t expect awesome quality prints
In the end, the HP Sprocket is a nice printer to have if you’re the type of person that likes taking and keeping physical photos for posterity. It’s relatively compact, easy to use and prints photos quickly, though the hit-and-miss quality of the prints and the cost of photo paper might not be appealing to some.
The HP Sprocket is priced at Php 7,290.
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