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HP Sprocket Review

A fun photo printer that doesn't take itself too seriously

4 stars

Fun for everyone

The HP Sprocket (2nd edition) is a diminutive photo printer designed for the notoriously printer-phobic millennial market. The Sprocket lets you print 2x3-inch photos straight from an iOS or Android smartphone. It’s remarkably simple to use, and with a range of stickers and filters – including some AR-enabled ones – any member of the Snapchat generation will find it a hoot. The downside? We found its print quality to be lacking at times, and it isn’t especially cheap to run. So, is the HP Sprocket a perfect Christmas gift? Or a ghost of technology past?

4 stars

Fun for everyone

Ease of use

5 stars

Features

5 stars

Value

4 stars

Print quality

3 stars
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Pros

  • Simple, unfussy app
  • Fun AR features
  • Available in a range of colors
  • Small and portable
  • Easy to connect to and start printing

Cons

  • Image quality could be better
  • Paper is a touch expensive

What is the HP Sprocket?

The HP Sprocket is a pocket-sized printer, designed to print photos and nothing more. It doesn’t have any ink cartridges to speak of. Instead, it uses heat-activated Zink paper to turn the blank 2×3-inch sheets into mini photos.

The Sprocket comes in three colors: Blush, Luna Pearl and Lilac. Each version has a speckled design on the top of the case which acts like a QR code, allowing you to connect to the Sprocket, view its status, and gauge its remaining battery. We tried the Luna Pearl version, which comes in a smart light gray color.

The regular HP Sprocket can only print 2×3-inch photos, while the larger HP Sprocket Plus can print 2.3×3.4-inch shots. The regular Sprocket will set you back $129.99, although we tried the Limited Edition Gift Box version, which includes the Sprocket, 10 sheets of paper, a small carry case and a tasteful string of lights and pegs to hold your photos. These extras will bump the cost up to almost $175.

Check out some of the HP Sprockets prints below

What's the HP Sprocket Great at?

There are lots of things to like about the HP Sprocket, not least the new improved design and app over the first generation model. We found that it's delightfully easy-to-use, has great connectivity options and a loads of fun features to make your photos even better.

Easy-to-use

The Sprocket is brilliantly easy to use. It operates from a rechargeable battery via a micro-USB cable, and connects via Bluetooth and the Sprocket app.

It’s simple to insert the paper, which comes in 10, 20 or 50 sheet packets. Just lift off the magnetic cover and drop the sheets in (although make sure you do it the right way up).

Printing a photo is easy as well. Tap one or more pictures from the in-app photo grid, then hit print. Wait a second and the Sprocket will spin up, then print the photo in about ten seconds.

It connects to loads of social media platforms

The Sprocket app can be connected to a variety of different social media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram. This enables you to print your social media snaps without ever leaving the Sprocket app.

It certainly helps to cut out some of the leg work when deciding which photos you want to turn from digital snapshots into physical memories, and will doubtless help homesick teens and tweens at college or university.

Fun augmented reality features

Augmented reality (AR) is one of the biggest buzzwords in the tech world at the moment, and the Sprocket is unashamedly riding the AR bandwagon.

Using the app, you can choose to add contextual information to photos (including the location and date they were taken), as well as a range of borders which bring photos to life.

You need to view them through the Sprocket app to view the AR effects, and while they aren’t massively useful, they are fun – which is the main point of the Sprocket.

What are the HP Sprocket's Drawbacks?

Sadly, the Sprocket isn't flawless and it produces images with a washed-out quality. Using a selection of images taken on the Google Pixel 3 XL, we found that the Sprocket’s pictures emerged with a distinct blue shift.

While it was able to maintain the contrast between bright and dark colors well (take a look at the pink fence in the shot below), it struggled to differentiate between similar colors, especially at the darker end of the spectrum.

However, we should point out that the Sprocket’s competitors – namely the Polaroid ZIP and Fujifilm Instax Share SP-3 – suffer from similar issues. You can try and remedy some of the issues using the color correction tools within the Sprocket, though this can’t completely rescue the prints.

How Much Does it Cost to Print on the HP Sprocket?

On its own, the Sprocket is hardly a wallet-busting device, starting at $130. However, once you’re finished with the ten bundled photos, you’ll find that replacement Zink paper is quite pricey.

20 prints will cost you $9.99, or 50 cents each. Opt for a 100 shot packet, and you’ll see the cost-per-print drop to 45 cents. It’s not cheap, but again, the replacement packets are similar in price to its main competitors’. It’s also worth remembering that the Sprocket is intended to capture special memories, rather than bulk-print all the blurry photos from your last night out.

The Verdict: Loads of Fun

The Sprocket is a fun, easy-to-use device that will make a perfect Christmas present. It’s not the last word in photo printing quality, but nor is it meant to be.

Instead, it’s a device designed to get people who don’t print anything back into printing photos, making permanent memories out of digital files on their phones. For that purpose, the Sprocket is brilliant.

HP Sprocket Pros

  • Very easy to use
  • Fun AR features
  • Straightforward companion app
  • Good range of color options
  • Small and portable

HP Sprocket cons

  • Image quality could be better
  • Paper is a touch expensive

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