Printer review

Spice up a party with this compact photo printer

The HP Sprocket does not use any ink cartridge. You load it with the HP Zink Sticky-Backed Photo Paper.
The HP Sprocket does not use any ink cartridge. You load it with the HP Zink Sticky-Backed Photo Paper.PHOTO: HP

The HP Sprocket is a palm-sized porter printer that prints colour photos (2 x 3 inches) directly from your smartphone via Bluetooth.

Its design is pretty minimal. Available in black (the version tested) and white, it comes in a rectangular plastic slab that is only 23mm thick.

On its top edge, there is a micro-USB port for charging and an LED indicator. It has only the power button on its left side.

The Sprocket is quite lightweight and compact enough to fit in any bag. However, while its smooth surface might be nice to touch, it is a fingerprint and smudge magnet.

It uses the same Zink technology as its competitors, like the LG Photo Printer. It does not require any ink cartridge. But you need to load it with the recommended HP Zink Sticky-Backed Photo Paper.

The Sprocket can hold only 10 pieces of photo paper.

To load the paper, slide the top cover forward slightly to release the lid and lift it off to reveal the photo paper compartment.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $199

    CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth, Near Field Communication

    WEIGHT: 172g

  • RATING

  • FEATURES: 3/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

To print, you need to install the HP Sprocket app (available for iOS and Android) on your smartphone. The app allows you to print the photos from your phone's camera roll, as well as photos in social media accounts such as those for Google, Instagram and Facebook.

The app also allows you to edit the photo you want to print. The editing tools are quite comprehensive. There are basic editing tools like contrast and auto-enhance. You can add filters, text, frames and emojis to the photo, save it for print or share it on social media.

It took 57sec for the Sprocket to print a photo after I tapped print on the app - not exactly fast.

The app also does not keep count of the number of pieces of photo paper in the printer.

The photo paper has a sticky back that allows you to paste it on your monitor, locker, phone case or laptop.

It is also supposed to be smudge-proof and water-resistant. I placed a print under a running tap for 20sec and the print still looked good, without any smudges.

But, as you might expect from such instant photo printers, the print quality was not stellar. The prints lacked the contrast and details of the actual photos. The colours tended to be on the warm side or looked yellowish, while the blacks were not "black" enough. But, for parties and gatherings, these photos are good enough.

During the review, I found the printer's battery level dropping to 20 per cent after I finished printing 10 photos. So, you might want to charge it back to full before loading another stack of photo paper.

While the Sprocket is pretty affordable, the Zink photo paper might not be. At $15.90 per pack of 20, you are looking at around 80 cents per print.

• Verdict: The HP Sprocket is a highly compact and easy-to-use photo printer can spice up parties and gatherings.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 05, 2017, with the headline 'Spice up a party with this compact photo printer'. Print Edition | Subscribe