One of the smallest printers you can buy, the HP Sprocket 200 is a diminutive lightweight printer that will fit in your pocket. It prints out cute little mini-photos on Zink paper, meaning that it doesn’t require any ink cartridges.
HP Sprocket 200 design, features and app – How to set up and use the Sprocket
Measuring just 80 x 117.5 x 25mm, and weighing just over a gram (0.172kg), the Sprocket 200 is super-pocketable.
Loading paper is a cinch: simply pop off the top and drop the sheets in face up. Neatly, when the Sprocket 200 is off, you can use it as a temporary locker to store your prints.
Once printed, photos roll out of the front of the Sprocket and are dry to the touch – no shaking or waiting for them to develop required.
‘Is that a Sprocket in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me?’
A lozenge-shaped LED sits above the printer cavity; it will flash whenever the Sprocket is in operation. The LED shines blue by default, but you can change the colour through the app – I set mine to flash purple.
Round the back is a power on/off switch and a micro-USB port for charging. It takes around three seconds for the Sprocket 200 to turn on or off. Whenever you turn it on, the printer will perform a short start-up operation, testing out the roller. The power LED will flash green when the Sprocket is fully charged; orange when it needs some more juice; and red when you’ve got it connected to a power supply to let you know that it’s charging up.
The Settings page of the app handily indicates the battery level, and you can also set it to “auto-off” after one hour, for example, so if you forget to turn it off then it will do that for you. If you are low on power, the good news is that you can use the Sprocket 200 when it’s plugged in to a power source – although doing so will obviously see levels drop.
The HP Sprocket 200 is very easy to set up. You need to download the Sprocket app from either the iTunes App Store or Google Play. It will work with phones and tablets running software as old as iOS 8.0 and Android 4.4.
The top of the Sprocket pops off easily and snaps back on securely. A spring-loaded arm helps to keep the Zink paper strips in place.
From there, it’s just a simple case of turning on Bluetooth on your phone, pairing with the Sprocket and opening the app.
HP Sprocket 200 performance – How to add captions with the Sprocket app
The Sprocket app comes with a wealth of options. In addition to printing out single images, you can also print out photos in 2 x 2 or 3 x 3 grids to create photo mosaics.
On any photo you can adjust contrast, brightness, add filters, stickers, borders and labels, including some neat “To: From:” labels, if you wanted to turn your prints into bespoke labels for Christmas or birthday presents.
HP Sprocket 200 print quality –How good are HP Sprocket photos?
Considering that the Sprocket is a fun and frivolous device, and therefore print quality should be fairly low on your list of considerations, the results are generally pretty good. To take and print serious photos, check out our Best Cameras and Best Printers features.
By “pretty good” I mean that details such as whiskers and fur on pets, the weave of sofa throws and the leaves on trees look crisp and distinct.
A photo of our marketing manager’s dog Chloe printed by the Tomy KiiPix (top left), the HP Sprocket 200 (bottom left) and the original on a Huawei Mate 10 Pro (right).
On the downside, skylines tend to look messy, with patches of blue sky looking cartoonishly flat and clouds lacking any definition. Bright areas of all pictures in general tend to look blown out.
Fur and foliage tends to look sharp and distinct, whereas flat surfaces and clouds look indistinct and fuzzy on Zink printouts.
HP Sprocket 200 vs HP Sprocket – What’s the difference?
Truth be told, there isn’t a huge amount of difference between the Sprocket 200 and last year’s Sprocket.
Both mini-printers output photos at 313 x 400dpi, take around 40 seconds to complete a job, and both devices will hold up to ten 2 x 3-inch sheets of Zink paper.
What’s new this time around? Not much. The new Sprocket supports Bluetooth 5.0 instead of the older Bluetooth 3.0 standard. In theory, since Bluetooth 5.0 boasts faster data transfer rates and greater range, you should be able to print things more quickly, and from further away. In our review of the old Sprocket, it took us about 50 seconds to print an image. With the Sprocket 200, it’s around 35-40 seconds.
HP Sprocket 200 battery – How many prints from a single charge?
HP doesn’t tell you how long the battery will last in terms of prints per charge, presumably because that figure will depend on how heavily you use the Sprocket 200.
The 7.4V internal battery has a maximum capacity of 550mAh, and HP states that printing uses between 31-32 watts. Given that printing takes around 40 seconds, a single charge should (in theory) give you sufficient juice to print out ten Zink photos.
That’s assuming that all the photos you have ready and waiting on your phone have the same level of detail, and you print off ten all at once. You’re more likely to turn this on and fire it up whenever, so ten photos per charge perhaps isn’t a great yardstick, as you might be able to get even more use out of it. The review kit I was sent included only ten Zink photos, so I can’t currently say if you get more out of this from one charge.
When idle, the Sprocket 200 will eat up 0.55 watts, so if you took this out at the Christmas party or a sleepover, make sure to turn it off between prints – or keep the charging cable nearby.