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The HP Sprocket Photo Printer (2nd Edition) is a concise photography printer that fits right into a pocket, however the fun part of photography printing is held back by major color issues.
Mobile picture printing
Convenient to use app
Fun printing and AR options
Inconsistent picture reproduction
expensive picture paper
As the world gets more mobile, our memories are increasingly placed on our phones, existing only as digital ephemera which can be easily shared online, but they’re hard at hand to a pal or tuck in a notebook. The $129 HP Sprocket Photo Printer (2nd Edition) is a mobile image printer made to make it super-easy to really get your photographs in printed form; the personalization features and photographs that double as stickers also make it fun. We just wish it were more steady in its color quality.
The next Edition Sprocket updates the appearance of the first generation with a sleek condition and new, speckled paint job which makes the pocket-size printer look similar to a designer object. The Sprocket comes in noir, blush or luna pearl (black, peach and gray, respectively).
The Sprocket measures 4.63 x 3.15 x 0.98 inches and weighs just 6.1 ounces, rendering it the right size to slide right into a coat pocket or purse. That it is a tad bigger than the initial Sprocket (4.53 x 2.95 x 0.87 inches) and like the Polaroid ZIP (4.7 x 2.9 x 0.9 inches), but much smaller compared to the Kodak Photo Printer Mini (3 x 6 x 0.9 inches).
The small photography printer has two indicator LEDs, someone to show that the printer is powered on and the battery charged; and the other to point the printer status.
The rounded oblong condition of the printer helps it be simple to tuck out of sight. A little nylon tag decorates one corner with an HP logo. That tab is a lot more than just decorative, however. In addition, it provides a location to grip if you are opening the most notable panel of the printer to reload the ZINK image paper.
The Sprocket includes a 10 pack of 2 x 3-inch ZINK photography papers, and each you have a sticker backing, so that you can slap a picture through to your mirror or in the locker. Unless you want your photographs to be utilized as stickers, the backing stays set up well enough that you should not have to worry about photographs accidentally sticking with things. The Sprocket also includes a USB-to-micro USB charging cable.
The HP Sprocket iphone app (designed for Android and iOS) walks you through the original setup of the printer, from loading the photography paper to charging the battery and pairing the printer to your phone over Bluetooth. There is absolutely no Wi-Fi Direct or wired connectivity available, and the printer is perfect for mobile only – no Windows or MacOS compatibility emerges.
Once your phone is paired with the printer, you can personalize a couple of things, just like the name of these devices and the colour of the energy indicator light on the printer.
Within the app, you can browse through images from your own phone’s memory together with several popular apps, like Instagram, Facebook and Google Photos. Once you pull up a photography in the app, you can crop it (though it can keep carefully the aspect ratio of the two 2 x 3-inch photography paper), apply color filters, add text and graphics, and more.
Additionally, there are several sticker-style graphics you can include, and the application includes a seasonal selection that updates regularly. Whenever we did our testing in early February, we saw stickers for ROMANTIC DAYS CELEBRATION, Chinese New Year and Winter, plus a sponsored assortment of stickers for the most recent How exactly to Train Your Dragon movie.
The printer also boosts after just about the most interesting areas of the Sprocket printer/app combo – the opportunity to attach video to your photo. Without the obvious QR code or similar visual tagging method, the software enables you to and other Sprocket iphone app users scan a printed image together with your camera, and the software will pull up an associated online video.
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Really the only problem I had with the software was that whenever my phone would fall asleep, the printer would need to re-pair with my phone after waking.
The HP Sprocket promises mobile printing that’s both quick and convenient, and overall, it delivers. The photographs are small (2 x 3 inches) and lower-resolution (313 x 400 dpi) than the photographs your phone’s camera will need, however the printer does give a fun way to get practically instant prints from your own phone or social media accounts.
Print quality isn’t bad in comparison to similar mobile image printers, just like the Polaroid ZIP Photo Printer or the Kodak Photo Printer Mini, but photographs frequently had problems with digital noise, which created artifacts in the image.
Color quality was also wildly inconsistent. Some images, just like a red rose and a portrait, suffered from heavily skewed color. The rose lost all subtle red tones, with the print looking similar to an inkblot than a graphic of a flower, and the subtle skin tones observed in among our test portraits were lost: The printed colors were so pale concerning look almost pure white. Even though printing these images another time, we saw the same issues, despite seeing no such problem on past Sprocket models or other photography printers.
Other images printed without the problem. A go of yellow sunflowers looked sufficiently bright, a beach scene offered accurate blue and green ocean waves, another portrait effectively reproduced darker skin tones quite easily.
Print times were fairly regular for individual photos, averaging 55 seconds each. The actual printing time was nearer to 30 seconds, but that process carries a 5-second period where it attaches “Reveal” content, and another 15 seconds to transmit the image to the printer.
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Printing multiple images as a batch actually took longer: Our seven test images took a complete ten minutes to print. Adding the AR content took 39 seconds in advance, and actual printing didn’t start before 62-second mark; but with long gaps between printing images, the seven photographs took typically 85.7 seconds each.
The next Edition Sprocket, like its predecessor, uses special ZINK photography paper. ZINK can be an inkless printing technology that uses thermal printing to provide full color images without needing any messy ink or multiple passes for an individual photo. The same technology can be used in the Polaroid ZIP Photo Printer and is substantially less cumbersome compared to the ink-based printing technique that’s found in the Kodak Photo Printer Mini.
HP only supplies the image paper with a sticky backing, which signifies that every picture can even be a sticker, but in the event that you just want a normal photo, leave the paper backing set up and you won’t need to worry about the adhesive.
On HP’s website, you may get new image paper for the Sprocket in 20-, 50- and 100-count packages. Both 20- and 50-count packages have a per-photo cost of 50 cents, selling for $9.99 and $24.99, respectively. The 100-count pack is slightly less costly at $44.99, averaging 45 cents per photo.
However, you could be in a position to get an improved price if you watch out for bargains. Around this writing, Best Buy offers the 20-count package for $5, at a per-photo cost of 25 cents.
The HP Sprocket Photo Printer (2nd Edition) offers some nice refinements over the prior version, with a far more complex look and more polished mobile app. But none of this matters if the photographs it prints are bad, and we ran into major quality issues whenever we printed our standard batch of test images. Color problems left pictures looking beaten up or reduced subtle shades to ugly blobs, and prints of even the better photographs arrived with artifacts from unnecessary digital noise.
While no mobile photography printer is perfect, you will most probably want to miss the new Sprocket printer and only among the other options that you can buy. In the event that you simply will need to have ZINK inkless printing, then we’d recommend the Polaroid Zip, which uses the same technology. But if you need the clearest photographs without quitting portability, we recommend the Kodak Photo Printer Mini, which includes better-than-average print quality and less costly photos.