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Home / Tips and Tricks / A History of Two Photo Printers – Review Geek

A History of Two Photo Printers – Review Geek



  A girl sitting at a picnic table looking at a picture on his phone and printing it on the HP Sprocket Printer.
HP

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

6 and updated in October 2018.

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 2nd Edition, Sprocket Select, and Sprocket Studio all print the image over the phone screen sitting next to them.
A portrait of the Sprocket family. HP

Sprocket Selection

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).

  The sprocket selection For printing a photo.
The sprocket selection. HP

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.

  The 2nd Edition sprocket next to the Select sprocket.
The sprocket 2nd Edition (left) and the larger sprocket Select (right). Ted Needleman

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.

  Paper loaded in the sprocket selection.
Open the cover and drop the zinc paper. Ted Needleman

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.

  The gallery on the left and a selected photo on the right in the Sprocket app.
There are only two screens in the sprocket app.

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.

  The sprocket Choose to print a photo of a dog.
And a small photo of a small dog appears. Ted Needleman

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.

  An X-Rite color checker next to an expression from the selection.
The colors printed by the selection are accurate and well saturated.

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!

Sprocket Studio

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 Sprocket Studio Printer prints a photo of a little girl with a dandelion.
The studio is the largest model in the Sprocket family, as are the photos. HP

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 Sprocket Studio and its power supply and cables.
The studio's power supply is almost as big as the printer. Ted Needleman

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 Sprocket Studio Dye Sub-Color Ribbon on a pack of HP Photo Paper.
The Sprocket Studio Dye Sub-Ribbon and Paper. Ted Needleman

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.

  A photo of a color checker printed with Sprocket Studio next to a color check.
The color of Sprocket Studio is almost perfect. Ted Needleman

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.


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