The world of Smartphone accessories continues to expand with more gadgets, gizmos and accessories coming in all shapes, sizes and functions. We’re recently had some hands-on time with the HP Sprocket Photo Printer, a small battery powered thermographic printer that seamlessly pairs with your Smartphone or Tablet.
HP Sprocket Hardware
The Sprocket Photo Printer measures in at just 75 x 116 x 23 mm @ just 172 grams. This makes it about twice as thick as a typical phone and just a little shorter. Coming in both a glossy black and a gorgeous white model with rose gold trim the Sprocket just looks like it belongs in a modern smartphone accessory kit.
The 500mAh battery seems to last for many prints, I never needed to recharge the device with the several dozen prints I tried, and thanks to the Micro USB charging port is easily topped up with any standard Android charger. The printer has one on/ off button, a removable top cover to load the photo paper, a charging port and a multi-use LED for indicating various things and that’s it, it’s simple.
The device prints on 5.0 x 7.6 cm Zink (zero ink) photo paper with a best print resolution of 313 x 400 dpi. As an added bonus the Zink photo paper is also sticky backed so the printed images can be affixed to just about anything. With the paper being smudge-proof, water-resistant and tear-resistant it’s also fairly hardy stuff that will handle a beating.
HP Sprocket Printing
Printing to the Sprocket is done via Sprocket app which lets you either take a photo, browse your phone’s gallery, including all of your Google Photos, or connects to a social service including Instagram, Facebook and your Google account. The app also includes several image editing features including white and colour balancing, image rotation and cropping, image filters, stickers and text (which is perfect for creating stick-on Memes, yes the office jerk returns!)
Once you have crafted the perfect image turn on the Sprocket (and pair via a simple Bluetooth interface if your haven’t already) and send it over, one click and a few seconds is all it takes. After a few seconds, the little machine roars to life and your 5 x 7 image comes shooting out! In fact, it’s so easy I had to remove the app from any device my 4-year-old had access to because I didn’t need any more photos of the carpet.
Overall the printing experience is simple, intuitive and easy. The spousal approval factor for this device is off the charts. An easy to use device, that can pair to multiple devices (including iOS thingies), and print some of the bazillion photos take every day! That’s a family crowd pleaser.
HP Sprocket Photo Quality
I wasn’t sure what to expect from the photo quality from the Sprocket. Firstly it’s a small device using thermographic technology, however, HP are no slouches in the photographic printing space so the question was can HP make a small thermographic printer that could spit out good images?
Yes, yes they can. Now the Sprocket isn’t going to rival the images you get from a professional machine like they use at the big stores, nor is it able to compete evenly with a high-quality home inkjet photo printer. I’ll let my wife sum it up “wow it’s really good quality”. That was her exact words when I printed the first image from the machine and handed it to her.
This is high praise from someone who hates most of my technology and also seems to delight in its failure or inadequacies.
HP Sprocket Conclusion
I have to admit I was immediately excited by the idea of a pocket printer that could take a phone from your phone and bring it into the real world. After using the Sprocket I think that excitement has been easily met with the delivery of a great product.
No this isn’t going to create a family keepsake photo to give to Nana, but it sure did create instant wallet photos for half the grandparents around me. If the device had limitations it would be 1, it’s print size, you can’t print a 6″ x 8″ photo out of something smaller than 6″ x 8″, that’s just physics people. Secondly, the image quality while excellent for the device type isn;t super awesome.
That said everyone I showed it to was delighted and amazed by it (except perhaps the people who found a personalised “meme sticker” affixed to their chair, courtesy of the Sprocket). At $199 AUD for the device (from the HP web store) and $19.95 AUD for 20 Zinc refills. Unfortunately, right now there isn;t any retail availability for the printer or the paper, which does add some shipping costs onto the paper, so perhaps order up big ad save on shipping.
Who would I recommend the HP Sprocket for? Anyone, to be honest, teenagers, wives, kids, grandparents, geeks, non-geeks. If you know someone who would enjoy printing out their own mini photos I think the $200 entry price is more than reasonable.
HP has allowed retention of this device to allow continued use over time