Today, I got hyped on a printer. HP’s new pocket-sized Sprocket printer made me smile; it made me laugh; and it became my favorite distraction. Sure, my interest in it is already waning, but wow a real laugh. That’s more excitement than most gadgets have inspired in me lately.
The Sprocket is HP’s answer to portable instant printers that print photos from your phone. These have existed for a while, and HP’s printer doesn’t create as high of quality prints as other products, like Fujifilm’s competing printer. I love the Sprocket, though, because its companion iOS / Android app easily lets me create vaporwave photos. I tried to make my photos as ugly as possible while also keeping them acceptably nice and ironic. I am thrilled with the results. I’m not sure if jokes were HP’s intention, but whoever designed the stickers, borders, filters, and font choices seemed to have a good idea of what would play well with "millennials" (me).
Let’s start with the basics. The Sprocket is rechargeable through a Micro USB, connects to your phone through Bluetooth, and requires Zink / HP photo paper to work. That means you don’t need ink because Zink’s proprietary printing technology puts crystals on every sheet that show up as specific colors when they’re heated up. The Polaroid Snap uses that paper, too. The technology is kind of amazing. The Sprocket costs $129.99 and includes 10 sheets of printer paper. A replacement pack of 20 costs $10. Every sheet of paper is a sticker, too. It just keeps getting better.
Let’s get to the app because that’s the best part. It can pull photos from your camera roll, Instagram, Flickr, or Facebook account, and because it also has access to your camera, you can take a photo of whatever you want to print. But everything good happens in the editing mode.
When editing a photo, you can insert text boxes, change the font, change the colors of that font, change the text box color, add stickers, and add borders. The best part is probably the font and the borders. It’ll really up the cool factor of your photos, if your idea of cool is the same as mine, which it probably isn’t.
True camera nerds likely want their photos to look pristine when they’re printed. I understand that, and the Sprocket isn’t for them. The $130 instant printer is more of a toy than anything else, but that's what I love about it. I should have taken a photo of my smile and printed it.
So would I buy the Sprocket? I’m not so sure. I know, I know, it brought me joy! It delighted me! Here’s the thing, though, I’m poor! For the money, I’d prefer to buy a Polaroid Snap or a different instant camera so I could get a camera and a printer for around the same price. However, I do think the Sprocket would be fun to have out at parties, so everyone could take photos on their phones and send them to the printer to take home. They’d have to connect to the Sprocket through Bluetooth, but Bluetooth is fun at parties, too. Honestly, I’m not even sure what I’d do with all those printed photos. Where do you store them all?
Overall, Sprocket is a usable treat. I feel like I created some very enjoyable photos. Do you have $130? Do you want to commit to buying photo paper? Maybe you should think about Sprocket.