Hands on: HP Sprocket

June 5th, 2017 | by Wilson Wong
Hands on: HP Sprocket

HP’s Sprocket portable printer at a launch in Singapore on May 31, 2017.

It has been quite a long time since I have printed my photos and even if I do, the printout would either be an A2-sized poster or photo book of my travels.

There are times when I would love to print a simple memento to people I photograph as a token of thanks or share some prints during a get-together with good friends, and that’s when HP’s Sprocket may come in handy.

The small portable gadget is not the first to use Zink’s photo paper and I had tried it with LG’s own Pocket Photo printer a few years ago.

The technology requires the use of specially treated thermal paper called Zink. By varying the heat application in intensity and length, the magenta, cyan and yellow layers within the Zink paper will also react differently and expose the colours on the 2 x 3 inch print outs.

Setting up the printer is rather simple. I just switch on the Sprocket and quickly links to my mobile device via Bluetooth. To print the photo, I just power up the app, choose the photo that I want from either my phone’s photo album, or social media app and press the ‘Print’ button. The printout will be completed in about a minute’s time.

HP’s Sprocket portable printer at a launch in Singapore on May 31, 2017.

Via the printer’s app, I can also be a little bit creative, by adding borders, text, cute stamps and stickers. I can also enhance the image in my own apps before sending it to the printer too.

Paper handling is simple as well. Just take the paper out of the pack, slot it in with the correction orientation and you are good to go. This is a basic but crucial step in getting proper printouts, because you obviously don’t want them to come out slanted, for example.

Since this is heat-based printing, there are no ink cartridges or ribbons to change. As the printouts are water-resistant, smudge-proof and tear resistant, they are great for everyone including kids. And yes, they come with a sticky back so you can paste them anywhere.

HP’s Sprocket portable printer at a launch in Singapore on May 31, 2017.

Just a note on quality though: If you are looking for photo printouts that rivals inkjet printers you will be sorely disappointed.

During my quick tests at the Singapore launch last week, the Sprocket’s prints cannot duplicate the minute colour graduation and have unwanted lines on prints too. Details are also not the clear, though you may be more forgiving on fun snapshots. And the size is fixed, since there is no Zink paper bigger than 2 x 3 inch.

To be fair, what the Sprocket is designed for are fun prints to share with friends immediately. Selfies and wefies are the perfect images to print with it.

At S$199, it is not that expensive to own but the running costs may be a deal breaker. Each 20-sheet pack of Zink paper costs $15.90, or around S$0.80 per print, which is definitely not cheap.

On the other hand, holding an actual photo in your hand, instead of showing it on a screen, does draw smiles from friends and family at a party. What’s the cost for that?


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