In Review: The HP Sprocket 200 Printer

The $79 HP Sprocket 200 printer is a small wonder.

Designed to act as a small, instant printer for phone pictures, the device is surprisingly small – 3.15 x 4.63 x 0.98 in – and can print up to 10 photos per paper pack. The photos are 2 x 3 inches and print at 313 x 400 dpi.

Unlike regular printers, the Sprocket uses the ZINK system which uses no ink. Instead, a chemical and mechanical process draws color out of the ZINK paper to produce photos in vibrant color. There is a catch, however: expensive paper that comes only in packs of 10. If you consider the produce akin to an instant camera, however, the whole thing makes more sense.

Its compact size and lightweight design, combined with a rechargeable battery and a built-in paper holder, make the HP Sprocket 200 a portable dream. It prints wirelessly from a mobile device via Bluetooth. Despite its cost being around £89.99, with only 10 sheets of paper included, the pricey Zink paper creates a hefty ongoing expense. The cost per photo comes out at 50p, which may seem quite steep given the small size of the photographs it’s producing.

What’s in the Box?

The HP Sprocket 200 package includes the printer itself, 10 sticky-backed photo printing sheets, and a USB charging cable.

As instructed by the quick start guide, setup requires the installation of the HP Sprocket app on your mobile phone. Throughout the charging process, which takes places simultaneously with the app download, an LED light system communicates the battery status: red signifies very low battery, amber for charging, and green for fully charged.

Once the app is installed, it requests permission to access Bluetooth and the photo library on your device. After selecting the Sprocket 200, the setup process begins. As soon as the Sprocket has some charge, an LED strip on the front begins flashing, indicating that the device is ready to receive paper. The printer top, held securely by magnets, can be easily lifted for paper loading.

Connecting the device via Bluetooth is straightforward, enabling it to pair up immediately. After setup, the app provides access to your gallery, from where you can choose the pictures you want to print.

Robust and Portable

The HP Sprocket, encased in a matte plastic body featuring a logo with raised texture, feels extremely light at just 0.38 lb or 200 grams. Regardless of a small tag that comes with it to attach to something, one may question its resilience against wear and tear, especially if carried around loosely in a bag.

Surprisingly, you can choose from light blue, blue, purple, pink, yellow or green LEDs. Additionally, it comes with a rechargeable battery, which can last up to 10 hours. It can store up to 10 sheets of paper at once, enabling you to print on the go without needing to feed paper constantly. It comes in four color options: Black, Grey, Lilac or Pink.

Zink Printing – An Overview

Zink, standing for ‘Zero Ink’, involves the ink being contained within the printer paper, contributing to its relatively high cost. However, because there’s no actual wet ink involved, there’s no risk of smearing or smudging on the paper, making the printed product instantly safe to handle. Also, you don’t have to worry about maintenance like cleaning or aligning ink nozzles. This makes Zink printing a robust and easy-to-use option for portable printing.

A well-defined print from the HP Sprocket maintains an impressive level of detail despite a slightly more washed-out color representation. The photo paper from HP is glossy and thick, with a sticky back that has a strong grip. The paper could get jammed if care is not taken to remove each sheet immediately after printing.

The HP Sprocket app facilitates a broad range of options like choosing photos to print, editing photos, and creating collages. Additionally, it also provides a portal to access photos directly from your Facebook, Instagram, and Google Photos accounts. The quality of printed photos is superb, presenting greater detail and sharpness, though the colors might not be as vibrant as those on a mobile phone screen.

Is the HP Sprocket 200 a good printer?

The HP Sprocket 200 is a convenient tool for on-the-go photo printing, especially for those who enjoy encapsulating memories in a tangible form. With its quick setup, easy-to-use app, and quality prints, it’s a charismatic addition to modern gadgets. However, the on-going cost of Zink paper at $24 for 50 sheets could be its biggest hindrance for potential users.

The Gen-Zers in my life loved the Sprocket. The idea of an instant print that doubles as a sticker is definitely in their wheelhouse. The product is fun and works very well. That said, the price of the paper could be a hindrance to the fun and the smallish size of the photos could be unacceptable to some.

That said, a printer without ink or toner is amazing and this little thing does exactly what most of us want from a photo printer – bright photo prints that can be stuck to a notebook or hung on the wall. It’s a fun little product and well worth a look if you have a photo-crazy teen.

John Biggs

John Biggs is an entrepreneur, consultant, writer, and maker. He spent fifteen years as an editor for Gizmodo, CrunchGear, and TechCrunch and has a deep background in hardware startups, 3D printing, and blockchain. His work has appeared in Men’s Health, Wired, and the New York Times.

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