If you had asked the pre-teen me way back when what I wanted most in the world, I would have no doubt told you all about how a Spice Girls Polaroid camera would make my life complete. Back then, my parents, who were more concerned with things like feeding four children and making sure said children didn’t burn down the house down, politely declined to grant my request (how rude!) and so the dream has lived on. These days, instant cameras are far more accessible and affordable and so you would think that by now, I would have given in and bought one of these instant photo printers. But the truth is there hasn’t been a model that has really tempted me until the launch of the HP Sprocket. There has been so much hype around HP’s pocket-sized printer that I was itching to try it, so, I put this nifty little gadget to the test to see if it lives up to the hype and its R1,999 price tag.
HP’s Sprocket offers social media lovers, selfie aficionados, and casual photographers the opportunity to easily and quickly print the photos they capture on their smartphone at home and on-the-go. While portable, smartphone printers are by no means a new concept, but what HP’s version brings to the market is the fun factor. The first thing that struck me about this gadget is how much fun it is to use. Over the two weeks I was testing the device, it became my favourite distraction, especially during a stressful work day.
Thee’s little doubt that the app that accompanies this handy little printer is the best part about the Sprocket. The app allows you to pull photos from your camera roll, Instagram, Flickr, or Facebook account, edit it, and finally print it. There is all sorts of fun to be had in the editing mode of the app. When editing a photo, you can insert text boxes, change the font, change the colours of the font, change the text box colour, add stickers, and even add borders. It’s basically like Instagram Stories or Snapchat in real life – show me a Millenial that doesn’t want that!
As distracting (and fun) as the editing mode was, I also found time to figure out if the Sprocket is a decent photo printer. HP’s printer doesn’t create as high-quality prints as other instant printing products, but the quality is still pretty decent and will suffice for someone who is more drawn to the fun editing features available. While this isn’t a printer for true camera nerds, it will prove to be an enjoyable toy for adults and teenagers who want to inject a little bit of fun into their lives. The quality of the prints was perfectly fine for me, but I know photography nerds would want something a little more precise and sharp in a printer.
The printer also offers a range of other features that might make it a more exciting option. For starters, it doesn’t need to be plugged in at all times and is rechargeable through a Micro USB. The device connects to your phone through Bluetooth and is operated through the HP Sprocket app (available on iOS and Android). A big plus for me is that it doesn’t require ink. The printer needs HP photo paper to work (or Zinc paper) and you don’t need ink because the Zinc printing technology puts crystals on every sheet that show up as specific colours when they’re heated up.
The printer comes with 10 sheets of photo paper in the box and refills will cost you R199 for 20 sheets and R399 for 50 sheets. If you’re a teenage girl then might also like the fact that every sheet of paper is also a sticker, allowing you to stick your printed creations in a scrapbook, on your backpack, or wherever else your heart desires (pre-teen me would have had them all over her Spacase!). Personally, I found the 2×3-inch wallet-sized paper to be a little on the small side. I get that the photos are meant to be more for fun, especially with the sticker element, but if they were closer to the photo size of 4×5 inches (roughly Polaroid size), I would have been far more inclined to spend my hard earned Rands on the Sprocket.
But would I buy it? If I were into something like scrapbooking or had a use for loads of wallet-sized prints of my friends and family, then you’re damn skippy I would. Sure, you could buy an instant camera, which includes the camera and a printer in one device (like the Instax Mini which retails for about R1,100 with paper refills at R290 for 20 sheets) but for me, those aren’t as fun as the Sprocket and its accompanying app. Plus, my smartphone camera is a heck of a lot better and easier to operate than an instant camera like the Instax Mini, especially when it comes to selfies. I also like the fact that the Sprocket is a lot more social – it would be a fun addition to any party and offers a great new way to share moments with your friends.
Want to know more? Visit the HP South Africa website for more information or watch the video below to see the Sprocket in action.