I’m a fan of retro tech and have owned a couple of instant cameras, so you can imagine my excitement when the HP Sprocket was launched. For a moment I was doubtful about it but I’ve had the Sprocket on review since launch day, and it was early on I realized it would be difficult to return.
Alas it will be going back soon, and I can tell you that I like it for various reasons – convenience; lightweight – pop in and out of your bag; pairs with Android and iPhone easily; and it’s just fun to print out mini photos that would otherwise remain on your smartphone till end of days. Oh and did I mention the photo paper is also a STICKER?! Yes, you can peel it off and stick your print out anywhere!
The Sprocket is ultra portable; it fits in my one hand comfortably. It’s also lightweight with a glossy finish that is prone to fingerprints. The black one that I have on review has silver accents with branding on the top, a border on the sides, prominent where the prints come out. The HP web URL appears at the bottom of the printer, although I’m not sure if this was necessary. The back has the charging port LED light indicators and a reset button. I do prefer the dark printer, but the white with gold finishes also looks great.
The pairing process is simple; you just switch the printer on from the power button on the left. When you see a light come on, open your smartphone settings and go into Bluetooth to pair it. I much prefer linking via Bluetooth than WiFi as the latter isn’t always a stable connection. You will need to download the Sprocket app before you print any photos. It took me a few seconds to pair my iPhone to the printer.
Once you’re paired to the printer, open the app to get started – and this is where the magic happens. I love that the app works with major social networks like Instagram, Facebook, Google and your camera roll or camera. I have opted not to connect my social media accounts on the app for printing because I wanted the most high-res images on my phone to be the source. I chose images straight from camera roll.
Once you select an image, you can edit it, from the button on the top right. Inside here, you sill see an auto touch-up button; basic colour settings; built-in filters (cos obvs); option to add borders [solid/patterned/flowers/Mickey Mouse/Polaroid style]; stickers; doodles; text; and cropping. The sizes are either 2:3 or 3:2 and you can choose images to be printed in landscape or portrait. You can go really bold by adding quirky texts over your images before printing, and dare I say it, print your own memes.
Once you’re done with editing, just tap on the tick, and hit the print icon. You can also share and save the edited pictures to your iCloud Drive. It takes under a minute for your prints to come out. The result is a 2×3-inch little print out, slightly smaller than a credit card. They are super-cute and can be shared with friends almost immediately as it’s no hassle to keep the printer in your bag.
The Sprocket uses the same ZINK technology as the Polaroid Snap Touch I reviewed recently. This means the printer does not need ink, hence the ZINK name (zero ink), and photos are printed based on the colour crystals on the photo paper; when it heats up, the colours from the image form on the paper. The technology is incredible.
The quality of the prints are just a notch below a FujiFilm Instax print but that doesn’t actually matter. What matters is that it’s a fun little printer to own where the photos are also stickers. So aside from keeping the photos in your wallet, at your desk or in a little frame, they are actual stickers. Seriously, how cool? The printing sheets are even cheaper than FujiFilm’s Instax ones, which was one of my gripes with it. The HP ZINK sheets are R199 for a pack of 20 on Takealot as at 17 July (vs. R150 for a pack of 10 Instax).
WHAT’S INSIDE THE BOX
– HP Sprocket printer
– USB charging cable
– a pack of 10x ZINK printing paper
– set-up card
The HP Sprocket, when compared to its closest competitor the Instax Share SP-2 printer, is better value for money – R1999 vs R3499. It is also loads of fun to edit and print, and easy to carry around – just remember to charge it. I’m not a fan of the borders and stickers, and love printing my photos straight off as they are on my phone. At launch day, I was not impressed with a photo that was taken by one of the assistants there but I’m putting that down to him using a phone from over 5 years ago. Every photo that I printed from my iPhone looks great. Also, the film for the Sprocket is cheaper than Instax, and they are stickers.
Welcome to Wired to the Web. My name is Nafisa Akabor and I’m a technology journalist covering business and consumer tech for the last 13 years. I’m passionate about start-ups, smartphones, mobile payments, travel tech and electric cars. I’m usually unashamedly taking food photos (@nafisaeats on IG).