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HP Sprocket Photo Printer review: Small and simple camera phone printing

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The Good The HP Sprocket is exceptionally easy to use and prints straight from your phone. The image editing tools bring fun to an otherwise ordinary task.

The Bad Print quality is average and the cost of replacement paper can add up quickly.

The Bottom Line If you can afford its initial and ongoing costs and aren't looking to hang your work in a museum, the HP Sprocket Photo Printer is a simple and enjoyable way to get photos off your phone.

7.0 Overall
  • Value 6
  • Features 8
  • Performance 6
  • Design 7

Like with other digital cameras, I'd wager that most photos you take with your phone never make their way into print. That's a shame since your photos (or some of them, at least) are meant to be seen, not just live in a gadget's memory.

HP's Sprocket Photo Printer lets you show your work to the world quickly, easily and with a little fun. Its small enough to carry in a bag, you don't have to hassle with ink cartridges and the internal battery lets you print anywhere for immediate photo gratification.

About the size of a deck of cards, the Sprocket is smaller and lighter (6 ounces) than most phones you'll be printing from. It's covered in a smooth plastic skin that comes in either basic black or white. Controls are minimal, as well. There's just a power button, a battery indicator light and a port for the USB charging cable.

Setup couldn't have been easier when I used it with my iPhone 6. Just charge the Sprocket, connect it to your phone via Bluetooth or NFC and download the free Sprocket app (available for both iOS and Android). Then, you can print shots straight from your phone's camera roll or connect to your Facebook, Instagram or Flickr accounts. From the app you can even edit your shots with effects like graphics, borders, text and filters before you print. That's a welcome touch on otherwise strictly practical gadget. You also can share shots via text or email directly from the app.

hp-sprocket-edited-photo.jpg
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Edit your photos before you print on the Sprocket's mobile app.

Kent German/CNET

Printing each wallet-size photo takes about 40 seconds and happens so silently, I wasn't sure the thing was even on. Print quality through the Zink "Zero Ink" technology is just average; I could see lines in most prints and colors are muted. But, really, what do you expect from something so small? No, I wouldn't use the Sprocket to showcase my vacation or wedding photos, but it's perfectly fine for having some fun with your camera phone shots. And you never have to replace an ink cartridge.

HP sells the Sprocket for $129.99, £99 or about AU$179 (there's no official Australian pricing). In the box you get 10 sheets of printer paper, each of which doubles as a sticker when you peel off the back. Given that HP sells full desktop printers for less, you're paying a premium for a gadget that doesn't feel like anything more than a toy. I'd say that you'd need to use it a lot to get your money's worth, but additional photo paper costs $10 (£10 or about AU$14) for a pack 20 sheets. But if the Sprocket fits your budget, it's easy to get carried away and you'll have blast doing it. Polaroid sells a similar product called the Zip for the same price, but with a couple of extra features and cheaper replacement paper.

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