HP Sprocket New Edition
HP’S SPROCKET NEW Edition is a fun, highly portable photo printer aimed at students, backpackers and anyone who can’t bear to be away from a printer. About the size of two smartphones stacked on top of each other, it prints only on special 2x3in ink-free paper, which you can buy in packs of 10, 20 or 50 sheets. Peel off the backing paper, and prints will stick to your laptop lid or the student fridge. Their quality is fine for keepsakes, but not on a par with a good inkjet print.
Nobody seems sure what to call this updated version of the original Sprocket: HP itself refers to it as both the Sprocket New Edition and Sprocket 2nd Edition, while online stores have mostly gone for Sprocket 200. Visually, the printer has moved from a slick, glossy lozenge to an odd, speckled matt block. With the useful addition of a fabric hanging tag, our grey sample looked like an unused bar of soap from a 1980s Christmas.
The new model is slightly faster, completing an image every 53 seconds, rather than every minute. It gets warmer than we remember when plugged into any available USB port or charger, and the lid’s magnetic clasps don’t seem firm enough. We recommend buying an (optional) travel case.
SPROCKET AND SEE
There are no PC or Mac drivers, but HP has managed not to drop the soap with its updated iOS and Android Sprocket apps. Visually appealing, they walk you through pairing the printer and phone, then encourage you to agree to location and other data sharing. While we usually opt out, here your data powers the new Reveal feature: take a photo with the Sprocket app’s camera, print it out, then Reveal can use the phone camera to recognise it and ‘augment’ it with related information.
In the context of backpacking or other memorable experiences, Reveal is an interesting idea. It works for anyone with the Sprocket app who’s opted in, so you could take a group selfie and print everyone a copy to serve as a kind of enhanced keepsake. In our tests, however, the Reveal information was limited just to other photos taken on that date or location, together with Wikipedia content describing the nearest landmark – potentially fun, but not as useful as, say, a way to keep in touch with others in the photo. Also, if you forget to use the Sprocket camera app, the only thing that’s revealed is other photos taken on the same date.
IN WITH THE OLD
For many, the Sprocket New Edition will be an expensive indulgence in the age of Instagram and Facebook, but for a few it could be a fun way to print and share memories, much in the spirit of the Polaroid camera. It could be a great gift to a backpacker, provided they can afford the 45p or so each print costs.
The Sprocket New Edition faces new competition from Canon’s Zoemini range, and its dull-as-dishwater makeover won’t help. It’s a great toy for those who see the appeal, but we’d rather have HP’s prettier, original Sprocket, and spend the $10 saving on a case.
TECHNOLOGY: Thermal paper
MAX PRINT RESOLUTION: 313x400dpi
MAX PAPER SIZE: 2x3in
WARRANTY: One year RTB •
PART CODE: 1AS85A
Despite the name, there’s not much new in HP’s travel-friendly Sprocket printer.