Looking to get your fabulous photo memories off your smart phone and out into the world? A photo printer is a great idea. While many every day home office printer is to have photo printing capabilities, they can eat up a lot of ink. Having a dedicated photo printer is a nice alternative that lets you print lots of great quality photos easily, without the need to feed sheets of photo paper into the printer. I had a chance to review HPs sprocket studio printer. Here’s what I liked, what I didn’t, and whether I’d recommend it to you.
What is HP Sprocket Studio?
The HP sprocket studio is a compact mini printer for printing photos. That it’s only job! Well the printer is small, it’s not what I’d call compact. The printer has a connected tray where your photo paper is stored, so the overall effect is kind of long and bulky. Even so, this printer would easily fit in a laptop bag or tote if you did want to take it with you somewhere.
What’s in the box?
In the box you get the printer, cable, and a sample pack of 10 photo paper sheets and a small roll of ink toner.
Setting up HP Sprocket Studio Printer
Getting things going with the HP sprocket studio photo printer is pretty easy. Plug it in, and let it power up. You’ll need to load dedicated 4“ x 6“ photo paper into the tray. Just lift up on the small tab and insert up to 20 sheets of photo paper logo side down, glossy side up. You also may need to install a special ink cartridge that slides into one side of the printer via a small door.
Next up, download and install the HP sprocket app. This will be your print control center.
The first time you do this, you’ll need to pair your phone to the printer using Bluetooth. The app will walk you through it, as it did for me, and I was connected in seconds.
Printing 4×6 photos : start with editing: add stickers, frames and more
Printing is easy using the app. The app will pull in the photos from your phone, or tablet, wherever you have it installed. Choose the photo you want, and then you can make a few adjustments, tweaks, or enhancements to the photo before you print it.
The editing functions are a bit finicky; some you can adjust and move around, some you can’t so it’s a bit of a guessing game, but there are plenty of options, including seasonal frames and stickers.
Print Speed: Printing take a long time
You’ll then hit the small printer button on the app to begin printing. A word of warning here: it takes almost a full 25 seconds before anything will start to happen on the printer. The first couple of times I use this printer I thought nothing was happening so I kept hitting the print button. That resulted in many duplicate photos accidentally and unnecessarily.
Normally that wouldn’t be a problem, however the special ink cartridges that are used in this printer only print a maximum of 40 Photos per cartridge. So you’ll want to take care.
The printing process is not exactly quick. It takes a couple of minutes for a photo to be fully ready; about 1 minute 25 seconds when I timed it. The printer will pull a sheet of photo paper from inside the tray, then feed it out the back of the printer before running it through the printer cartridge and beginning the printing process. You’ll see the photo slide in and out of the printer three or four times as each layer of colored ink is added to the photo paper. Kind of a different process than what you might normally find on your home office printer. This process feels agonizingly long, and it you had a handful of photos to print it would take forever.
How’s HP Sprocket Studio photo quality?
Well the printing process may take some time, and seem a little involved. The photo quality overall is outstanding. The photos are colorful, crisp, and detailed. Definitely high-quality! I can’t find a single bad thing to say about the overall photo quality.
The prints are, as HP promises, bright, glossy photos that are smudge-proof, instantly dry, water-resistant, and on thick, tear-resistant photo paper.
White borders detach from paper
The photos do print out with white borders at the edges. I’m not sure why, I measured the photo paper, and the truth is, the sheets are actually substantially larger than 4 x 6. So what actually gets printed is just the 4 x 6 area.
The photo paper that HP recommend to use with this device, actually has breakaway sides that are perforated, so you will just snap these off after they’re printed, and you should have a tidy finished product. Despite the fact these are tearaway perforated edges, they do seem to break off rather cleanly and give the photos a tidy look.
Cost of photo printing
A box of 80 sheets of photo paper, and two cartridges is about $50.
That works out to cost you about $.63 per photo. Not bad. Some printing gadgets have paper that costs a couple of bucks per photo, so this seems like a much more economical choice.
Overall review of HP Sprocket portable photo printer
Overall I quite liked this printer. It’s a fast, easy way to print lots of photos, and the photo quality is really great. The print cost is low and set up and operation was easy. Its biggest downsides? Probably the slightly awkward shape. It would be nice if it was more compact, but I imagine HP’s engineers had a good reason for the design. It’s also pretty slow to shoot out a single photo, taking almost 2 minutes from press to print.
The HP Sprocket Studio sells for about $179 and you can get it from places like Best Buy and Amazon.