Tech review: New HP Sprocket a fun, social printer

Multiple users can connect and send their photos to the new HP Sprocket compact photo printer for printing. PHOTO: HP
Multiple users can connect and send their photos to the new HP Sprocket compact photo printer for printing. PHOTO: HP

HP continues to ride on the compact photo printer wave with the Sprocket New Edition.

Handy enough to fit in your palm, it connects to a smartphone via Bluetooth to print card-sized (2x3-inch) photos.

Use the companion Sprocket app (for iOS and Android) to edit photos before printing. You can also print photos from your Instagram, Facebook and Google Photos from the app.

The New Edition is a sequel to last year's Sprocket, which brought these mobile printers back into the limelight.

They have been around for years and use the Zink technology, which heats a special paper to produce the image.

While I personally do not know of anyone buying these compact printers, they must be selling well enough.

The latest model is HP's fourth Sprocket device in two years - it has a 2-in-1 variant with a built-in camera and a plus-size version that prints larger photos. Canon and LG have also launched similar photo printers this year.

  • SPECS

    Price: $199

    Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0

    Weight: 172g

    RATING

    Features: 4/5

    Design: 4/5

    Performance: 3/5

    Battery life: 4/5

    Value for money: 3/5

    Overall: 4/5

Each printout takes around 50 seconds. The print quality is middling at best, though HP says the New Edition prints are sharper and richer in colour.

But I could not see much of an improvement over the previous version. There is still noticeable banding, especially in scenes with the sky in the background.

However, the appeal of these printers is not the quality of the image, but the social aspect. Users can shoot with their phones, add various fun filters, then print photos for everyone right away as a keepsake.

The new model further emphasises this - multiple users can simultaneously connect and send their photos to the Sprocket for printing.

To know whose photos are being printed at any time, the Sprocket's LED light now helpfully flashes a specific colour corresponding to the one shown in the Sprocket app.

 
 

In addition, the app can embed extra information in each printout, such as videos and websites, which can be retrieved at a later time by scanning the photo.

New to the app is an option to create a Sprocket shared event for gatherings. Those who accept the shared event invite can upload photos to the Sprocket for printing - these photos are also saved automatically to a Google Photos shared album for everyone in the group to see.

Verdict: A minor upgrade to last year's model, the HP Sprocket and its polished companion app has loads to offer at social gatherings.