We click a lot of pictures from our phones. We post these images on social media, send some via mail and to loved ones. However, do you remember the last time you got your photos printed? Well, a majority of us, including myself, haven't done that in a long time. The thing is once smartphones became our primary cameras and sharing was confined to the Internet, we forgot about the good old days of printed photos. Now, all the images we click remain on our phones or the cloud, and those moments are revisited when Facebook reminds us of those memories. In fact, if you're not very social, you probably don't revisit them at all.
Companies like Fuji and Polaroid took the charge a while back, trying to bring a solution to this through polaroid cameras. In the same segment, HP has launched the Sprocket, which is a small palm-sized standalone printer for those impromptu and magic moments alike. I have been playing around with it and here are my thoughts.
Build and Design
The HP Sprocket is slightly bigger than a card of decks. It's made of plastic, which seems durable enough, but it is not very scratch resistant. In just a couple of days of me carrying around the printer, it has picked some visible scuffs. Maybe HP could have added a soft cloth pouch within the bundle. It does not come with a charger either, just a micro USB cable that you can plug into a PC or power bank to charge. The good thing is, it charges in less than an hour and then you can use it for more than a stack of 10 sheets easily.
Weighing just 318 grams, the Sprocket is very light and since you only need a smartphone to pair and print pictures, it is quite portable as well. The smaller size and low weight means that you can easily carry it around to parties or happy gatherings and set it up there for everyone to take back a memory or two.
Ease of use
Setting up the Sporcket is very easy, but since the device is battery powered, it turns off automatically when left idle. This happens over short periods of idleness, in order to save battery. But, when you turn it back on, the Sprocket often doesn't connect automatically to paired devices nearby. I had to turn it off and on a couple of times. When you do connect though, you can print as many photos as you want.
The Sprocket app is free, as it usually is with most of these gadgets, and is quite feature rich. You can not only print pictures from your camera gallery, but from Instagram, Google Photos and Facebook as well. All you have to do is sign in. Once you select an image, you can edit them by adding filters, frames, texts and add funny stickers as well. So, basically it covers all the possible checkboxes a millennial would need. Like all HP print products, the app also lets you buy paper, which takes you to the HP website. The official partner for the printer and the paper here in India is Amazon, so it's much simpler to just go to Amazon's app.
Printing and the maths behind
The print quality is not something that you and I or anyone would call good. The image quality is usable at best even though the colours do look slightly dull. If you take a closer look, there are visible lines on the printed images.
That being said, you can basically print any image taken from any phone or camera, via a connected device, and that puts the Sprocket at a more advantageous position than a normal instant camera. The other good thing is, all these printed images are basically stickers, which you can peel and place wherever you like.
Printed by L-R: (HP Sprocket, Fujifilm Instax 90 Neo Classic)
As for the cost, the most affordable set of Zink sheets costs around Rs 500 for a set of 20 sheets. That means each print costs about Rs 25, which is actually not bad. If you compare it to its closest competitor from Polaroid, which prints at around Rs 45 a sheet, this is half the cost. The Sprocket itself is also much more affordable than the Polaroid Zip.
The HP Sprocket is a cute little novelty printer for those who feel all zesty and warm inside, thinking about the good old days. It lets you print images on the go and preserve memories. The print quality may not be as good as that on a polaroid image, but if you just want a small printer to put your memories on paper, the Sprocket is a good investment.