HP Sprocket Photo Printer
Get Dieter and Helmut from your Mind: You Are Considering the wrong Sprockets. The HP Sprocket 2nd Edition ($129.99), also a pocket-size mobile photo printer, is the organization's third by the title, replacing the popular original Sprocket reviewed in December 2016. Since then, we have tested similar models from Canon, Kodak, and Lifeprint, but we did not find one worthy of the Editors' Choice nod prior to the HP Sprocket Plus came together in mid-2018. The Sprocket 2nd Edition's beefed-up attribute listing, funky augmented-reality angle, and impressive output-quality overhaul represent big steps forward for this enjoyable apparatus. Our new Editors' Choice, the HP Sprocket 2nd Edition ends its sibling's short reign as PCMag's top mobile photo printer.
The Sprocket 2nd Model steps 1 by 4.6 by 3.2 inches (HWD) and weighs approximately 4 ounces. That is in line with the original Sprocket, in Addition to the competing Canon IVY Mini, the Kodak Mini 2 HD, also Lifeprint's Hyperphoto Printers.
While the first Sprocket comes in a functional black with silver trimming, or in all-white, the Sprocket 2nd Edition comes from...well, maybe not quite colours , however moods, or conditions of mind.
These sound more like lipsticks or perfumes. In addition to the head-scratcher names, every colour has a description. Example: Luna Peral.Shadows on white as time passes. Delicate balance of power and quiet.
We are talking about a system , right? Right. According to HP, its market study claims that the principal users of mobile photo printers such as these are young girls aged 16 to 24, and it says it targeted these fresh colors to that market. Past them, HP says that variations of this Sprocket 2nd Edition in various colours, including Lilac, will likely be available from certain retailers. (Info on exactly what colours and where was not available yet, at this writing.)
As you can see in the picture above, each of the different-colored tops includes a pattern of dots or flecks. The patterns break up the monotony of these differently solid-color printers, however they have another, more interesting function: whenever you scan them along with your smartphone from inside HP's Sprocket Program (which I will talk more in a minute ), status information displays up on the display, a restricted implementation of augmented reality. HP calls this Show.
Around the Edges and Inside
Like many other pocket photo printers, the most Sprocket 2nd Edition's layout is essential. You will see a print-output slot and a little position light just above it on the front edge, and a power switch, a micro USB interface for charging, a re-set, and a battery-status LED on the back edge...
HP says that you'll get 35 to 40 prints from each battery charge. Everything --configuring the printer, pairing it through Bluetooth, photo editing and enhancing, and even more--is handled from the Sprocket App on your Apple or Android cell apparatus.
Most recent pocket picture printers, such as all three Sprockets, the Canon IVY Mini, and the Lifeprint models I mentioned, take advantage of a technology known as Zero Ink, or ZINK. ZINK printers use colour thermal paper made by a company of the identical name. Instead of spraying on or fusing external ink or toner applied by the printer, ZINK paper discharges colors via chemicals embedded in the paper; the colours come to the surface according to heating patterns applied to the newspaper by the printer. ZINK does, however, create branded newspaper that HP says is tweaked specifically for the Sprocket printers. In addition, it supplies paper packs unique to competing models.
The Sprocket 2nd Edition receives paper just as others do. You just remove the lid, then drop in the paper print up, and be sure that the blue barcoded card in the paper package goes in first, face down...
Small photo printers such as the Sprocket 2nd Edition have minimal processing prowess onboard. Most of the things they do would be initiated and closely controlled by applications installed on your smartphone or tabletcomputer.
In this case, that is HP's Sprocket App, that is downloadable from the Apple Store or the Google Play Store. The first time you launch it, the program finds your Sprocket printerand pairs together with it (without you having to meddle in your mobile's Bluetooth setup panel), and walks through the rest of the installation. Now you can print the pictures you shoot to your mobile device's camera, or images stored on your smartphone or tablet. You may even link to and print out of Facebook, Google, or even Instagram social-media and cloud websites.
As with the majority of other programs for pocket photo printers such as this one, the Sprocket App enables you to create basic image corrections, tweaking things such as crops, brightness, and also contrast/color levels. You might even add borders, text, or stickers, and even draw (or paint) contours freehand. You'll also utilize the Sprocket App, obviously, to configure the printer itself, and to work with most of the features we are going to share.
You associate printed photos with brief video clips and then invite friends and family to scan the printed picture by using their smartphone camera within the Sprocket App. Doing so plays the clip on their phone.
The main distinction between HP's and also Lifeprint's iterations is that Lifeprint shops the related video on the company's Instagram-inspired photo repository, making it available to anybody with a copy of the picture. HP needs the user to have both components--the picture and the movie --stored on the mobile device scanning the photo. Might it be handy? Questionable. Gimmicky? Sure. Nevertheless, it's a enjoyable gee-whiz attribute to impress family and friends.
Also potential on the Sprocket Plus, this is the practice of printing bits of a bigger hard-copy picture or picture, then sticking the pieces, or tilestogether to make a bigger copy of the original shot. You set up to nine tiles from Sprocket App, publish themand then piece the picture back together using printed guides and adhesive on the back of the paper. Canon's IVY Mini also supports tiling.
In response to consumer comments, HP has improved the Sprocket 2nd Edition's Bluetooth LE (Low Energy) connectivity to get rid of flaky pairing and dropped links. Even the beefed-up Bluetooth service now supports several simultaneous connections, allowing you and your friends and family to use the printer in the identical time.
The Sprocket 2nd Edition can accept printing jobs up to that many customers concurrently. Anyone inside the Bluetooth LE connection array (roughly 15 to 20 ft ) with the Sprocket App installed on his or her mobile device can link to print pictures on your printer. While you can not control who connects and prints, then you may manage your printing tasks, which are recorded by filenames and sorted by print times from the Sprocket App's Printing Queue. And you're able to prioritize tasks by moving them up or down from the listing. You may also pause, delete, and move print jobs from the queue to a inactive pane about the Print Queue screen.
Regrettably, I could not find a means to identify printing tasks by user, but you can tell from the printer when your own document(s) are printing: The LED over the output signals in the colour assigned to your printer in the Sprocket App...
..not lax, but nonexistent. The business rep said that since Bluetooth LE requires users to be this close to the printer to attach, you'll probably see anyone using it.
Always On and Always Connected
Rather than heading to sleep and away from your smartphone or tablet, the more Sprocket 2nd Edition now remains attached when sleeping and awakens when you send it a print job. This removes the need to reboot the printer to reactivate it and reconnect with your mobile device.
I should note here, however, this didn't work for me. I left my printer idle too long, not understanding I had to physically turn Sleep mode away. This also seems like a fantastic place to point out the replica of the documentation I've worked out wasn't completely developed, therefore this might be rectified by the time you read.
Printer Status Communication
The two status lights around your Sprocket 2nd Edition exemplify low and higher battery-charge levels, as well as when a print job is running, and if a firmware upgrade is occurring. The Reveal purpose, which I alluded to before, is another augmented-reality feature. It exhibits the printer's status (as an example, the battery-level info) when you scan the dot patterns onto the Sprocket 2nd Edition's lid using the Sprocket Program. This didn't work for me the very first few times I tried, but I was up from this review's deadline and ran from time to experiment with this.
Name Your Sprocket, and Upcoming Stuff
During its initial installation and printer setup routine, you're prompted to change your Sprocket's name in the default"HP Sprocket 200." In case you ignored the prompt or, thinking that the device's title is unimportant, typed in something improper, you can change the title and any other setting from among those three configurations control panels (Sprocket, Inbox, and Printing Queue) available from the app's key menu. (It's situated in the upper left corner of the Home screen.) After giving this a consideration, though, I could not figure out , beyond intentions of vanity, providing this printer a unique name would be useful, unless I discovered myself in an area filled with Sprockets broadcasting the identical title. Not planning; however, it is an alternative.
HP says you are able to search for a different feature to come to the app shortly: After this season, expect support for shared photo albums for certain events. Through such, owners of these albums can set up shared events and contribute pictures to this function.
I used my year-old Samsung Galaxy smartphone along with my daughter's Apple iPhone 8 to print some sample pictures. The 2nd Edition model printed the 2-by-3-inch photos I snapped at it at an average of 39 seconds each, approximately 3 minutes quicker than the first Sprocket and 19 seconds faster compared to Sprocket Plus.
Remember, however, that the Sprocket Plus photographs comprise 30 percent more coverage area than the 2x3 models'. The Sprocket 2nd Edition was also a large 51 seconds faster than the Lifeprint 3x4.5 Hyperphoto (it prints snapshots that are 50 percent larger) but 9 minutes slower than Lifeprint 2x3 Hyperphoto, the speediest standard-size ZINK model up to now.
In comparison to some of the additional 2-by-3-inch versions, the Sprocket 2nd Model was 5 minutes faster than the Canon IVY and 41 seconds quicker than the Kodak Mini 2. (The latter is really a thermal-dye-sublimation machine which uses cartridges containing both ink along with the photo paper, maybe not ZINK technology.)
Mediocre print quality--a deficiency of color vibrance and picture detail--has been among the more frequent complaints HP obtained from the owners of the initial Sprocket. A recurring theme in user reviews, professional reviews, and nearly anyplace else has become the general so-so photos generated by those small ZINK printers. The Sprocket product director told me that in reaction, following many hours of study and cooperation with ZINK, HP's in-house imaging specialists, product developers, and programmers found a solution.
With some minor tweaking of this HP-branded ZINK paper along with an overhaul of this printer's firmware as well as also the thermal printheads, the Sprocket 2nd Edition utilizes heat to the thermal paper with a lot more accuracy than previous models could. (An HP rep also said that an answer entailing a overhaul of ZINK's thermal paper, also, was not pursued, because so several of these portable photo printers use the exact media.) The outcomes are revealed from the HP-generated comparison below. (Note: I have seen this firsthand and was duly impressed.) The prints will be brighter, with more vivid colors and greater detail.
That said, despite all the output improvements, the new Sprocket's pictures are not as brilliant and sharp (which you probably can not view on a low-resolution webpage ) as photographs created by five- plus six-ink picture printers and all-in-ones from Canon and Epson. I contend, as I have in other ZINK photo printer testimonials, that another reason behind the somewhat bland output is the dearth of black in the ZINK color model. In any case, there's no denying the improvement. For now, anyway, the Sprocket 2nd Edition generates the best-looking 2-by-3-inch ZINK-based snapshots out of a pocket photo printer.
A Look at the Print Prices
The Sprocket 2nd Edition's running costs are, due to a much better deal on HP-branded ZINK paper, lower compared to the very first Sprocket's first 65-cent price each photo. But because these two products use the exact press, a price reduction for the new Sprocket's newspaper also lowers the price for another one.
If you opt for the 100-sheet pack, your cost per photo is going to be 45 cents; differently, it is 50 cents a print with the other two.
Forty-five pennies is great, but not as great as it gets. The Lifeprint 2x3's 110-packs cost less than 20 cents per day, for instance, however, the 3x4.5 model's prints will probably cost you a jaw-dropping $1.10 per cent, considerably more than the Sprocket Plus' 65 cents per. The Canon IVY's newspaper is 50 cents each sheet, and the Kodak Mini's dye-sub photos run about 70 cents each. So it might seem the Sprocket 2nd Edition's paper lands right in the middle of the, ahem,"pack."
It is a common practice in the printer industry to add a (sometimes minor) attribute or two into an present product, tick up the product title or number, then ship it like a significant version update or all-new product. HP seldom does this.
Nearly everything, including the home, is fresh. HP listened to the Sprocket user base and lately released the new Sprocket in colours that it thinks will appeal to that demographic. I did not have the opportunity to play these before submitting time.
The prior Sprocket's significant shortcomings--routine connectivity and so-so output--are no longer issues, and lots of new features are introduced (even though a number of them, like the three-user system and print-queuing attributes, are half-baked). Additionally, the Sprocket 2nd Edition costs less to buy and use than the prior Sprocket and many competing versions.
For now, until some other mobile photo printer jumps ahead, the HP Sprocket 2nd Edition is your choice of its clutter to snag. It is our latest favourite pocket-size photo printer. Unless you want the larger output signal of the Sprocket Plus or even Lifeprint 3x4.5 versions, it must be yours, too.