Want to print photos from your phone or tablet? HP has two new Sprocket photo printers, and both can do just that!
All in the Family
The Sprocket photo printers from HP were very successful. The original sprocket was introduced in 201
Now HP introduces two new members of the sprocket family: Select and Studio. The second edition remains in the list. Of course you can use all three models to print photos from your phone or tablet. The Sprocket 2nd Edition and Sprocket Select have internal rechargeable batteries.
You connect the Sprocket Studio to your desk with a power cord. It has an optional battery, but due to the size of the studio, it may not be suitable as a portable printer. The studio also uses a different printing technology than the other models.
The Sprocket Selection ($ 149) extends the Original and 2nd Edition Sprockets. As with the earlier iterations, color photographic paper using zinc technology is used. Zinc paper is not just Sprocket – it's also used by instant printers (Kodak, Polaroid, etc.).
The Original and 2nd Edition Sprockets use sticky paper to make a 2 x 3 inch photo – Set the right size to make an album, diary, or other Surface like the refrigerator door. The Sprocket Select is similar to the Sprocket 2nd Edition, but enlarges the print to 2.3 x 3.4 inches. The 10-sheet pack is color-coded, making it easier to find the right size for your printer. A pack of 20 leaves costs about 8 USD (or about 40 cents per print).
Unlike the original Polaroid photos you had to develop before you could see the picture, the Sprocket prints the photo using thermal technology as the paper is ejected. After printing, the photos are relatively heat resistant. Even if you leave one on the dashboard of your car on a sunny day, it should stay functional.
As in the previous versions, the Select is charged via a MicroUSB cable. However, as there is no charger included, you will need a free USB port on your computer or an additional charger. It takes about an hour to load the printer before you can use it.
After loading the Select, lay down the paper, download the Sprocket App and pair the printer with your phone or tablet via Bluetooth. An LED on the front of the printer indicates when it's on, and you can change the color in the app. The printer is available in three colors: Black, Rouge (Pink) or Pearl (Silver Gray).
When you select a photo from the gallery of your phone or tablet, you can only minimize it in the app. You can also apply frames, borders, and some custom stamps and borders. If you want to print photos to your PC or Mac, you need to transfer them to your phone or tablet because Sprocket Select does not have a printer driver for a computer. Also, you can not edit your photo in Photoshop or a similar application when printing from a phone.
It only takes a few seconds to print a photo, and then it can be shown to your friends. Or you can peel off the back to expose the sticky surface and insert it at the desired location.
I also took a picture of an X-Rite color checker (a tool that can be used to determine exactly how a printer is reproducing an image) and printed it out.
The sprocket selection, however, is a kind of one-trick pony. It is essentially an instant camera, with the exception that the printer is physically disconnected from the camera. Although photos are produced that are slightly larger than the Sprocket 2nd Edition, they are more like photo stamps than actual photos.
The Sprocket Select does not replace a photo lab or a real photo printer. It will be a hit for the target group – tweens and teens. They do not care if they can print or edit their photos on a computer. An instant gratification is reason enough to make many deductions.
Get only paper!
If you want to print a photo that looks like it came from a photo booth or lab, consider the new Sprocket Studio ($ 149, in this letter). Unlike the rest of the Sprocket family, no zinc paper is used in the studio. It uses a technology called dye sublimation (Dye Sub for short). Dye Sub uses a ribbon with four consecutive swatches (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black). The printhead essentially vaporizes the dye, which then deposits on the photo paper.
The paper travels under the print head, printing a color in each pass. Like photographic films, dye sub-printing produces a mixed color image, not the dots or pixels of colors you get from an inkjet or laser printer. So the high-quality output looks more like it's being processed by a photo lab than printed at home.
The prints are larger (4 x 6 inches), as is the printer. It consists of two parts: the rectangular core, which contains the printing mechanism and the ribbon, and the insertable paper tray for up to 20 sheets. The printer measures 6.65 x 10.75 x 2.68 inches and weighs 2.05 pounds. The Sprocket Studio requires an AC connection to a power adapter that is the size of a laptop. An optional battery is also available ($ 90).
The accessories for the studio consists of two ribbons and 80 sheets of paper. At the moment, it costs about $ 40 or 50 cents per print. This is a bit more expensive than many photo labs, but you get the printout in just a few seconds and do not have to go anywhere.
The interior of the studio takes only a few minutes. You load the paper, open the side door of the base station, insert the ribbon, and connect the power cord. Turn on the printer and connect it to your phone or tablet via Bluetooth. Download the Sprocket App (iOS, Android) and get started. If you use the same app for Select, 2nd Edition, and Studio, the same editing restrictions apply.
The studio creates larger photos than the other members of the Sprocket family, so printing takes longer. It is interesting to see, though. The paper is pushed four times between the top of the paper tray and the back of the printer. The printer adds a color layer each time it passes.
Although the studio used a completely different printing technology than the Select, quality and color accuracy were almost identical. The studio reproduced the color almost perfectly and on almost all of our printed pictures the color was well saturated. The only exceptions were the photos with a lot of red. These tended to have a slight pink glow in the white areas. However, this only occurs when you compare the printed image with that on your phone or tablet.
The target group of Sprocket Select is younger, but the studio is more suitable for an older demographic group. It is easy to use and delivers high quality photos. In addition, the cost is not inappropriate and the printer is small enough to be inconspicuous.
My only real complaint is that there is no app or driver for a PC or Mac. This greatly limits the amount and style of editing your photos. To work around this, you can edit photos on your computer and then transfer them to your phone or tablet for printing. However, this is an unnecessary expense.
Especially annoying, since the studio is connected to the power cord at your desk or table, unless you reach for the battery. This reduces the instant satisfaction you get from the combination of phone and printer.
Because this printer only works with a phone or tablet, HP has severely limited its usefulness. And that's a shame because with more universal access, Sprocket Studio would appeal to a much larger audience.