HP Sprocket

Cool factor *****
Usability ****
Value for money *****

When it comes to consumer technology, printers are the least exciting items. Now HP Inc, the PC and printer division of the original Hewlett-Packard Company, has changed that with a nifty little pocket printer.

The HP Sprocket is a portable printer that links with Android and iOS devices to print credit card-sized images in just under a minute using no ink.

The initial pairing process via Bluetooth is simple: once switched on, your handset should pick up the printer. You will also need the accompanying HP Sprocket app, which is where all the magic happens.

The app allows you to edit the photo before printing, so you can crop, add a border, filter, text and stickers, or use the auto touch-up feature. Borders include patterned, Mickey Mouse or Polaroid style for 2 x 3-inch portraits or 3 x 2-inch landscape images.

The Sprocket is compatible with major social networks, so you can pull images from Facebook, Instagram, Google or iCloud. However, original photos from your smartphone camera roll will produce a higher-quality printout.

The printer is not the first to produce a wallet-sized print. Fujifilm’s Instax Share printer has a better-quality print, though the device is more expensive. But HP’s device comes with a nifty additional feature: the printing paper is actually a sticker.

The Sprocket uses Zink (zero-ink) technology, which is also used by Polaroid instant cameras. The prints are brought to life by colour crystals on the photo paper: when heated, colours from the original image form on the photo. The result is a cute printout that can be stuck anywhere. The quality is good, but not great.

HP’s Zink sticky photo paper costs R200 for a pack of 20 sheets, so at R10 a print it is best kept for special occasions. The Sprocket comes with a pack of 10 standard printing paper sheets and a micro-USB charging cable, all for R1,999. It is available in either black and silver, or white and copper. 

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