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News18 » Tech
5-min read

HP Sprocket Plus Review: This Compact Photo Printer is All About The Fun of Instant Prints

A very neat accessory to have for printing out memories during vacations, parties and on special occasions.

Vishal Mathur | @vishalmathur85

Updated:April 11, 2019, 1:43 PM IST
HP Sprocket Plus Review: This Compact Photo Printer is All About The Fun of Instant Prints
A very neat accessory to have for printing out memories during vacations, parties and on special occasions.

Printers, when you first think about them, are hardly the world’s most exciting gadgets. But then again, HP’s take on a mobile instant photo printer isn’t exactly your standard printer. Following up on the Sprocket instant printer, HP have now taken everything up a notch, with the Sprocket Plus. It is priced at Rs8,999 and succeeds the original Sprocket, which retails for around Rs7,999. What you now get with the HP Sprocket Plus are prints which are slightly larger, but then again, the Sprocket Plus still remains small, easy to use and useful if you wish to instantly print photos clicked using your smartphone.

What is the charm?

The biggest difference is that the Sprocket doesn’t work the way most printers do. There is no ink to deal with. No cartridges to replace. No print heads to clean. No complications. tHE Sprocket Plus does not use any printer ink, at least in the traditional sense, as large printers do. Instead, it uses a technology called Zink. This technology was developed by imaging company Polaroid in the 1990s, and then spun off into the independent Zink Imaging Co. in 2005. The Zink technology required sheets of paper that are manufactured with multiple coatings of heat-sensitive colour dyes. These dyes include cyan, magenta and yellow, which are transparent and you’ll not realize they are there when you first look at a Zink paper ready for printing action. When you give the command to print an image, the Sprocket initiates the thermal print head inside the Sprocket Plus printer, which releases different intensities of heat for different durations. This heat then activates these transparent dyes, as required, and these combine to print the image that you need.

The secret ingredient

The Sprocket Plus printer, as well as the original Sprocket before this, use a specific type of paper called HP Zink paper. HP bundles a pack of 10 sheets with the printer itself, and you can separately buy packs of 20 (around Rs799) or 50 sheets (around Rs1,249). This works out to almost Rs39.95 per print. That really isn’t a lot, considering how much fun you can have with instant prints. Each paper can also become a sticker simply by peeling off a layer at the back.

What is different?

Compared with the original Sprocket, the Sprocket Plus is slightly larger in size. Which also means slightly bigger print sizes. That means, the Zink paper packs that you but for the Sprocket aren’t compatible with the Sprocket Plus, and vice versa. The Sprocket prints out photos measuring 2-inches x 3-inches in size. The Sprocket Plus goes 30 percent larger, with 2.3-inch x 3.4-inch print size. If it does come down to the choice, might as well go for the larger print option.

Small in size, big on experience

Despite being very slightly larger than the original Sprocket, the Sprocket Plus still has a very compact design. In many ways, this is around the same size as a typical 10,000mAh portable power bank. It measures 142mm x 89mm x 18mm and weighs just over 200 grams. It is light, and can be carried in your handbag or backpack with ease.

The HP Sprocket Plus is available in two colours—black with a shiny finish and a wine red option. The simple design means that the paper tray is loaded from the top, the prints emerge from the front and the charging port is around the back. It has a built-in battery, which means you can use it on the go without having to worry about plugging it in. The Sprocket Plus pairs with your phone or tablet via Bluetooth.

The only drawback with this design is that the paper tray lid opening and closing mechanism is a bit clunky as there is no hinge to hold it in place. This means the lid has to be taken out for loading papers, and then slid back in before it locks down. This is by no means complicated, but sometimes it takes a couple of attempts to get it right.

Interestingly enough, HP doesn’t bundle a carrying case with the Sprocket Plus, which means you’ll have to be careful when dropping this in your bag or as you carry it around. A pouch or a carry case would have been a nice addition overall.

Getting it going

You will need to download the HP Sprocket app (free for Android and iOS) to set up the Sprocket Plus and for printing photos. The app not only gives you access to photos on your phone, but can also be used to access your photos on Instagram, Facebook and Google. Once you select a photo to print, there is the option to edit these images within the Sprocket app itself and also add funky elements such as borders and text on the photos. That said, these tools are quite limited. And if you are someone who prefers proper image editing apps to get the desired impact on your photos, these simple tools won’t really cut it. Nevertheless, good to have this option.

We noticed that even photos with a lot of elements are printed in around 30 seconds, while most standard images and selfies take around 25 seconds. This is fairly quick, and at par with the original Sprocket. The print quality is excellent for the most part, as far as bright and daytime photos are concerned. Colours look accurate and there is no graining or distortion introduced into the prints. However, if the photo that you print has a source of light looking at the camera, or the ambient lighting is low in a photos, there could be some loss of detailing. You will also notice that photos are slightly cropped at the top and bottom, and that means you will have to be careful about cropping photos before you give the print command—leaving too little headroom could spoil the look of the hairstyle in the picture.

What’s the point?

The thing is, the HP Sprocket is a fun printer to have. What you’ll get are photos that are great for pinning up on your workstation, near your child’s study table or simply stuck on some gift. This is a very neat compact accessory to have for printing out memories during vacations, parties and on special occasions.

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