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HP Sprocket Printer: A Complete Review
January 17, 2020
Are you looking for a truly portable photo printer that you can take anywhere?
In our HP Sprocket printer review, we’ll share all of the features that make it a perfect party accessory and why it’s connecting users in a way no other pocket-sized printer has before.
Learn about the tech that powers it, performance perks, and the price you can expect to pay in our comprehensive HP Sprocket review.
What is the HP Sprocket printer?
The HP Sprocket photo printer is a new way to take photos and get full-color prints on-the-go. This truly portable printer needs no computer. Just connect to your phone and use the HP Sprocket app to print photos. The app supports photos you take with your phone, existing photos on your camera roll, and those on your social media accounts. You can even edit photos from the app before you print.
There are three models in the line: HP Sprocket 2nd edition, HP Sprocket Select, and HP Sprocket Studio. Each is designed for mobility, speed, and social connectivity. The one you choose depends on your needs.
1. HP Sprocket 2nd edition photo printer
The HP Sprocket 2nd edition comes in four colors: Lilac, Noir, Blush, and Luna Pearl. It prints out 2 x 3-inch photos on special sticky-backed paper so you can use the prints as photos or stickers. It's the size of a cell phone and requires no complicated setup.
2. HP Sprocket Select printer
The HP Sprocket Select also creates stickable photos, but they are 30% larger than the 2nd edition printer photos. The app provides exclusive frames and sticker designs. This model comes in a single color, Eclipse.
3. HP Sprocket Studio printer
If you want larger photos, the HP Sprocket Studio creates 4 x 6-inch photos that are ideal for photo greeting cards and framed gifts. This model comes in one color, Snow. It is the largest in the line printers, measuring 6.65 x 10.75 x 2.68 inches.
Photo printer features and benefits
One of the most striking features of this printer is its size. The HP Sprocket 2nd Edition weighs just 0.379 lbs and measures 3.15 x 4.63 x 0.98 inches, so it’s small enough to stash into a bag or purse on your way out the door. You won’t feel bogged down bringing it along, so you can keep it with you everywhere you go.
The device connects directly to a smartphone or tablet through Bluetooth, so you can print anywhere. By the beach, on a camping trip, or wherever you wander, print photos from your smartphone. No wireless internet needed. Share and print photos from your phone’s photo gallery, or snap pics as you go and print in real-time.
The HP Sprocket 2nd Edition and Select Edition offer quickly-printed photos on specialty-paper with sticky backing. Choose to display your photos as stickers or put them in a collage. These wallet-sized prints are perfect for passing around to friends and family, too. The Studio Edition prints on non-sticky paper.
Each printer needs to be charged before use, with the Studio printing 80 sheets per charge, and the other two printers offering 35 sheets per charge.
HP Sprocket technology explained
The HP Sprocket photo printers don’t use traditional ink cartridges or toner, so you won’t ever have to shop for ink.
Ink-free “Zink” paper
The special Zink (Zero Ink) paper sheets have everything they need inside them to create full-color photo prints. The photo printer activates the paper as it passes through the printer, creating the bold blues, reds, and yellows that an inkjet printer makes without the mess or drying time.
You’ll never get a “low ink” warning with the HP Sprocket. As long as you have the Zink paper sheets in the printer, you have what you need for your photos.
Special ink and photo paper
The HP Sprocket Studio doesn’t require traditional ink, either, but its printing technology is a bit different. The dye-sublimation photo paper and cartridges it uses are unique to the printer, and they offer bright, glossy prints that resist moisture and dry instantly. They are sturdy photos that are resistant to tearing, too.
No internet connection required
These printers don't require an internet connection after you download the app. If you can access your phone or tablet's Bluetooth settings and connect it to the printer, you have what it takes to send photos from your device to the printer.
Note that the exact process for enabling Bluetooth and approving the pairing will vary by device and operating system. The HP Sprocket app can be downloaded onto any mobile device that uses Android 4.4 and higher or iOS: 8.0 and higher. It isn’t set up for use with Amazon Fire tablets at this time, though.
How to set up your HP Sprocket photo printer
To get started printing with any of the models, simply remove the HP Sprocket from its packaging and follow the directions below:
- Download the official HP Sprocket app from the Apple App Store or Google Play for Android
- Charge your HP Sprocket by plugging in the micro-USB end of the charging cable into the printer and connect the other end of the USB cord into a charging adapter (not included). Plug the adapter into a power outlet and wait until the LED light on the HP Sprocket turns from red to green (about 60 to 90 minutes)
- Turn on the printer by pressing the power button until the LED light turns white
- Load the printer paper by unwrapping the included pack of HP Sprocket Paper sheets and following the package instructions to align the paper in the proper direction. Load just one pack at a time to prevent jamming or damage
- Pair your printer and mobile device that has the HP Sprocket app installed. From within the app, enter the setup screen and follow the on-screen directions to connect your device. Make sure your mobile device has Bluetooth turned on and enabled before you begin
- Use the HP Sprocket photo app to link your social media accounts and enable access to your phone’s camera
You are now ready to begin using your phone to capture and edit photos that you can send to the HP Sprocket portable printer. Anyone who wants to use the printer will need to install the HP Sprocket app on their phone. They will also have to connect to the device via Bluetooth to print photos.
HP Sprocket price
The most recent model of the HP Sprocket 2nd Edition costs the least of the group and is typically around the $100 price range. Paper refills range in price from around $10 for a 20-pack of sheets to under $50 for 100 printable pages. Since you don’t have to buy ink as a separate purchase, there is an opportunity to save with every print.
The HP Sprocket Select and HP Sprocket Studio each cost a little more than the HP Sprocket 2nd Edition, but the paper costs are comparable to the HP Sprocket 2nd Edition sheets.
Get even more value by purchasing an HP Care Pack, which covers your printer against malfunctions or damage. Choose the next-day replacement plan, which will ship a new HP Sprocket in case yours stops working due to events covered under warranty.
Or you can opt for the next-day replacement plan with accidental damage, which protects you against damage such as drops or spills. HP Care Packs range in price and provide between 1 and 3 years of coverage.
Tips for getting the most from your HP Sprocket
Since the HP Sprocket photo printer is a social tool, you’ll see the best results when it’s shared with friends. Taking it to events allows you and your friends to print out photos from their phones.
The HP Sprocket uses Bluetooth technology to send data from mobile devices to the printer, so make sure anyone who is interested enables their Bluetooth.
When you’re done printing the photos, there’s a lot you can do with them. Ideas for using prints include:
- Pick your favorite prints from the event to make a collage
- Create a photo card to thank the party host (HP Sprocket Studio only)
- Use Tile Mode on your HP Sprocket app to print each of the 2 x 3-inch pieces to form one larger picture, like a puzzle
- Scan any photo printed by the HP Sprocket to pull up other photos you took with your device that day, so you can print more of the best pics from an event
We also recommend that you regularly update the printer firmware by connecting your mobile device to the internet and opening the HP Sprocket app. Any available firmware updates will be displayed in the notifications, and you will be prompted to complete the update. The printer must be charged to 50% or more for updates to happen. You should also allow automatic updates to the HP Sprocket mobile app as they are released by the Apple Store and Google Play.
Accessories for the HP Sprocket
While the HP Sprocket photo printers are fun, there are some additional accessories made just for them that can amplify the creativity and convenience factors.
HP Sprocket reversible sleeve
This affordable neoprene protective sleeve turns inside out for two color choices and securely holds the HP Sprocket 2nd Edition printer.
HP Sprocket wallet case
If you want something a bit more fashionable than the sleeve, consider our wallet case that looks like a clutch, complete with zipper pull. It accommodates the HP Sprocket, HP Sprocket 2-in-1, and HP Sprocket Plus, and comes in four colors: Black, Grey, Gold, and Blush.
HP Sprocket Studio power bank
Charge up this battery and get 80 prints for your HP Sprocket Studio. The power bank lasts for 2 hours and 30 minutes and can monitor the printer’s battery life.
HP Sprocket Studio bag
This attractive, charcoal cloth HP Sprocket Studio bag holds your HP Sprocket Studio printer, power bank, printed photos, and extra paper. It’s slim enough to take all of your print necessities where you need them.
Journals, albums, and stickers
HP® offers a wide range of creative supplies to give your photos new life. Choose from journals, photo albums, sticker frames, pen holders, and decorative accessories that help you make great gifts from your photos. Commemorate those magical moments in a way only you can. Pick a project for most occasions, including weddings, baby’s first year, and birthdays. You can easily share your photos with friends and relatives or keep them around for you to enjoy.
Is the HP Sprocket for you?
If you enjoy sharing photos with friends and don’t want to wait for them to develop or print them from your own printer, you can’t go wrong with the HP Sprocket. It embraces the themes of social sharing and instant gratification by providing a lightning-fast way to print on-the-go, and it easily fits in any purse, backpack, or messenger bag.
The unique photo printer is worry-free, too. If you have enough sheets, you have enough ink. This is one printer you can throw into a bag and head out the door.
Also, if you value the novelty of prints that are also stickers, this is a top pick. It's not only a clever gadget to take along to parties, but it also makes a thoughtful gift.
Anyone with an iOS or Android phone who likes to get creative with photos will find a purpose for this printer. The computer-free functionality means that Apple and Windows fans alike have found a common way to commemorate those special occasions.
Everyone, no matter what phone they carry, can swap photo memories and make the moment last forever. College students, kids, parents, and event planners will find something useful with what mobile users consider one of the best HP photo printers available.
About the Author: Linsey Knerl is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Linsey is a Midwest-based author, public speaker, and member of the ASJA. She has a passion for helping consumers and small business owners do more with their resources via the latest tech solutions.