One of the many summer jobs I had in high school was working at Snakes Alive at the Iowa State Fair, back in the days when it was on the top level of the grandstand at one end of the flea market. My job alternated between hoisting a 15-20 foot snake around people’s necks or taking a Polaroid photo of those same people who were “brave” enough to sit for a snake photo. The people each paid a few bucks for a picture and got instant gratification in the form of the Polaroid that proved they’d been there and done that.
While we’ve moved to a world where every photo on your phone can quickly be shared on Instagram and Facebook, so far no one’s figured out a way to put Instagram on your the front of your fridge the way you could with an Instamatic. If you want to hold a picture in your hand, you need to print it out.
HP has come up with a portable print solution that gives you the same instant gratification with the flexibility of printing anything in your iPhone or Android photo library.
HP Sprocket 2nd Edition
The HP Sprocket first arrived on the scene at the end of 2016 with a form factor that easily slips into a purse or backpack without taking up too much room. HP is offering a number of improvements with the second edition, including a noticeable upgrade to the print quality, a sleep mode that wakes up on demand, and a better end-to-end experience using the Android and iOS apps.
Connecting the Sprocket to your phone is simple. You install the Sprocket app from the app store, the app finds the Sprocket, and you connect. Anyone in your household can connect and print, making printing a shared experience at family gatherings or among housemates.
Enhanced Sleep Mode
One of the potentially frustrating aspects of the original HP Sprocket was the amount of time the device would take to wake up. If you hadn’t used it for awhile, chances were pretty good that you might spend time fumbling around with trying to get your phone and the Sprocket to talk to each other.
HP has done a fantastic job overhauling the sleep mode. A few hours after printing, the Sprocket will wake from sleep mode and print simply by sending a new photo via the app. In my testing, I went as long as two weeks between print tests. Total time from pressing the power button on my Sprocket to wake it up from such a lengthy break to having picture I could hold in my hand was less than two minutes.
Improved Print Quality
The print quality of the original Sprocket wasn’t too bad, until you compare it side-by-side with the new sprocket. Colors pop out in the HP Sprocket 2nd edition and details that faded into the background are visible in more detail. For me this is one of the most important aspects of the Sprocket 2nd edition – if you’re going to print a photo, it needs to look print-worthy when it comes out.
Printing can be done either as a single 2×3 tile or you can combine tiles to make a larger print across up to nine tiles to create a larger print with full bleed to the edge of each of the tiles so that the larger image looks just like the original photo.
Never Run Out of Ink
The Sprocket uses Zink zero-ink technology, so you’re not carrying around printer cartridges and the potential mess that might go along with having them in your bag. You do need buy Sprocket paper packs, which come in multiples of 10, but those don’t take up much room and currently run about $25 for a pack of 50.
Customizing Your Prints
The Sprocket app offers you a number of creative options for printing your photos. You can add some custom frame designs like hearts, leaves, birthday wishes, and rainbows. You can add one of twenty one virtual stickers to your image. Or you can draw your own sticker design on a piece of paper, photograph it, and add your sticker creation to a photo before you print it out. You can even add a white frame to the top and bottom reminiscent of a Polaroid.
Bottom Line on the HP Sprocket 2nd Edition
With up to 2 hours of battery life for printing and a 10-pack of Zink paper to get you started printing, if you like the idea of having a portable printer at your disposal, the HP Sprocket 2nd Edition delivers for both quality and simplicity. At $129.99 per HP Sprocket, I could even see this being a fun option for people who want to have a unique printing experience at weddings, with a Sprocket on every table during the reception.
Learn more about the HP Sprocket 2nd Edition.