HP Sprocket 3×4 Instant Photo Printer Review
The HP Sprocket Studio is a new spin on HP’s line of portable photo printers, but instead of wallet-sized 2 x 3-inch prints, it produces glossy 4 x 6-inch images. This means that just minutes after shooting a picture with your phone, you can have a print that is suitable for framing. The Sprocket Studio use a process called “dye sublimation” to imprint many colors onto a surface. The procedure is slower than that of typical inkjet printers, but the quality of the printed material is much higher.
HP Sprocket 3×4 Instant Photo Printer Specs
|Maximum Standard Paper Size||3.5 by 4.5 inches|
|Number of Ink Colors||4|
|Rated Speed at Default Settings (Color)||0.88ppm (68 seconds/photo)|
|Rated Speed at Default Settings (Mono)||NA|
|Cost Per Page (Monochrome)||50.4 cents|
|Cost Per Page (Color)||50.4 cents|
|Originated||Made in South Korea|
- High-Quality, Giant-Sized Prints
- Super simple in every way
- Several distinct photo-editing choices
- Power source required
- The print cost can add up quickly.
The Sprocket Select, weighing in at a ridiculously low 18g, is fantastically compact, light, and easy to carry everywhere. The Sprocket Select is shorter in height but is 8mm longer and 12.7mm wider than a regular Sprocket. This increases the print size to around the size of a credit card from the previous size of 2 by 3 inches. A pack of 10 sheets of zinc paper is included with the Sprocket Select. Although loading paper isn’t difficult, it does require caution. Always make sure the shiny side of the zinc paper is facing up.
Every new box has a barcode sheet at the bottom that needs to be read by the printer before any pictures can be printed. You can compare it to the ink-free printhead alignment process of a regular inkjet printer. Microcrystals in zinc paper change color when exposed to different temperatures. Because of this, the printer may get slightly hot when in operation. The Sprocket Select’s paper tray can be accessed by removing the cover, which features a sleek marble design and allows for convenient loading of Zink paper. When you close the lid, magnets hold it in place, which is ideal if your printer is prone to rolling around in your bag.
The Sprocket 3×4 has a similar output quality to other Zink printers, although it is inferior to that of dye-sub and instant-film printers. In my tests, the printer did a respectable job with closeups of faces and outside photos with lots of foliage since it handled skin tones well, as well as greens and blues. However, it significantly darkened photos, reduced shadow depth, and muted reds and reddish browns.
The Sprocket 3×4 doesn’t offer a borderless printing option, so your photos will have white borders all the way around. From print command to completed photo, the printer claims to take “up to” (meaning “as fast as”) 68 seconds. The fastest time I was able to clock was 70 seconds. 81 seconds was the longest time it took for a photo print to complete. When compared to other instant film picture printers, the Fujifilm Instax Link Wide is the only one we’ve tested that uses the same size photo paper (but a smaller image and bigger borders). (But keep in mind that the whole development of the film takes a few minutes.)
The Sprocket Select retails on Amazon for $149.99 (or £119). It may be purchased from major US retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart. The Sprocket 200, the successor to the original Sprocket, costs around the same as the Select but prints smaller photos (2 by 3 inches as opposed to 2.3 by 3.4 inches) and only supports Bluetooth 4.2, so you can’t have multiple friends connect to it at once. However, when seen through the app, the Sprocket 200’s augmented reality function brings the image to life with animations, maps, and videos. The Instax Mini Link (£109.99/US$99.99), which came out on top in our roundup of the best portable printers, is only a hair more expensive than the Sprocket Select. The cost per print for the Mini Link is more than for zero-ink printing with zinc (£0.52/US$0.48) because it utilizes Fujifilm’s Instax Mini Instant Film.
Whether or not the desired photo sizes can be printed is the primary consideration when selecting a snapshot printer. If you’re looking for a camera that can print images no bigger than 3 by 4 inches, the HP Sprocket 3×4 is a fantastic option. You can easily trim larger images down to 2×3 inches if you need them for a wallet. If you only require 2-by-3-inch prints, however, the Kodak Step Instant Mobile Photo Printer is our top recommendation because it eliminates the need to trim the photographs. Similarly, the Canon Selphy CP1500 is our best selection if you need to print larger photographs (up to 4-by-6-inch standard snapshots).
The Sprocket could be the ideal option if its 3×4 output is suitable for your purposes and if you value the stock’s stickiness. The Fujifilm Instax Link Wide, on the other hand, has superior output quality but is much more expensive per shot. The Kodak Mini 3 Retro (3×3) Portable Printer is another option because it, like the Instax, produces high-quality prints on the go. Its 3-by-3-inch square shape is restrictive yet perfect for Instagram’s square shots.
The target audience for the Sprocket Select is the social media generation, which loves the instant gratification of smartphones but still longs for the nostalgia and physicality of printed images. While instant prints on film continue to be costly over time, the Sprocket Select’s use of more cost-effective Zero Ink paper makes it a great, reasonable compromise. Not as sharp, clear, or colorful as a store-bought inkjet print, but that’s not the point. The convenience of making instant mementos with the push of a button comes at a price. The only drawback is the rather hefty purchase price.