This post was most recently updated on November 29th, 2019
The HP Sprocket and HP Sprocket Plus are bite-sized photo printers that fit into the front pocket of your jeans. Meant to be the Polaroid cameras of the modern age, these little gadgets are cute, tiny, and responsible for some of the worst commercials you’ll never be able to get out of your head.
You were warned
These little personal printers are aiming to take your photos off of Instagram, so you can post them on your wall. Like a real, physical wall. Like part of a building. The way cavemen used to do.
I’ve heard a lot of mixed reviews of these printers. Some people love them, others hate them. People tend to have strong opinions of the HP Sprocket series, and not many land in the middle.
So, what’s the scoop? Is the HP Sprocket good, is it not good, and ultimately, is it worth it for you?
The HP Sprocket is advertised as being able to fit in your pocket, and it can! With how big phones are getting these days, the term “pocket-sized” is becoming a bit facetious. However, my HP Sprocket Plus fits in my pocket better than my iPhone 8 Plus does.
HP offers two different models of these printers. Well, actually three.
The HP Sprocket is the version you will probably see in most stores. It is plain, simple, and prints two by three-inch photos.
The HP Sprocket Plus is the same printer, except it prints 30% larger. That works out to 2.3” by 3.4”. In my opinion, it’s a pretty insignificant difference, but to some bigger is always better.
These two printers are a great size for this type of purpose. The photo prints are the perfect size to slip into your wallet or to stick up on the fridge.
The special photo paper for the HP Sprocket and the HP Sprocket Plus come with an adhesive back to them. This makes it even easier to snap a selfie, print it out, and slap it up on the wall of whatever college bar or frat house you’re at that night.
Instead of releasing multiple versions of the HP Sprocket and HP Sprocket Plus, HP has opted to instead release different colors of the same printer model. This works perfectly with their marketing strategy.
The purpose of these printers isn’t to print professional photo prints. The entire point of the HP Sprocket series is to help express your unique personality! Help to do that by picking out the color that expresses who you are. It sounds corny, but for this type of product, it works.
That’s right, I made up a word. Move on.
This is the best aspect of the HP Sprocket and HP Sprocket plus. They make the best gifts. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t at least be intrigued to open one of these.
The HP Sprocket series printers make great stocking stuffers for your daughters about to leave for college, or for your grandmother who wants physical photos of her grandkids. Also, if you need a white elephant gift, everyone will be fighting over who gets to go home with the HP Sprocket.
I struggled about whether to mention this. This is because this complaint it primarily related to people’s expectations. The photos printed by the HP Sprocket and HP Sprocket Plus are not professional quality. *GASP*
Sorry, but they aren’t supposed to be. Yeah, they will be a little blurry compared to an Epson Expression series. The paper is the size of a business card. The purpose of the HP Sprocket series is to make your phone photos into physical photos quickly. If you have a photo that you think is of a special quality, take it home, edit it in Photoshop, and print it on a higher quality photo printer.
Now, here is a more legitimate complaint. The HP Sprocket and HP Sprocket Plus connect to your phone and print via Bluetooth. This is most likely because Bluetooth is a standard feature for most mobile devices.
However, the HP Sprocket series cannot print from a WIFI connection. I don’t believe HP couldn’t have added this in just to have a second option. I don’t think this matters to most customers, but I think it would be nice to have the option.
The HP Sprocket series prints on a special Zink paper made specifically for the HP Sprocket or Sprocket Plus. The paper is cheap, less than ink cartridges for a traditional printer. However, it is a bit annoying when you run out of paper and you have to find somewhere that sells the special paper you need.
The Lost Model
As I mentioned earlier, the HP Sprocket series actually has a third model: The HP Sprocket 2-in-1. In my opinion, this model is entirely pointless.
The HP Sprocket 2-in-1 is basically an HP Sprocket with a camera built into it. You know, like the thing every phone now has, but a lot lower quality.
I can’t in good conscience recommend the HP Sprocket 2-in-1 to anybody. The camera just isn’t good enough quality to justify a stand-alone device. Do yourself a favor, and just use your phone camera.
Is the HP Sprocket or HP Sprocket Plus worth it? I think so. However, you need to be realistic about what you’re getting.
You aren’t going to crank out a hundred photos in an afternoon. You aren’t going to get National Geographic quality prints of your barhopping selfies.
The HP Sprocket and HP Sprocket Plus are great in the way they’re supposed to be; as novelty items. They are great for the examples I’ve mentioned above. For printing quick pics of your kids at the zoo, or passing around at your best friend’s wedding. They are meant to spur social interaction.
Quick story. A woman came into my store and bought a few HP Sprockets on Black Friday last year. She gave on to her daughter, who had just started college on the east coast. She came back into my store after the new year, and was nearly in tears. The woman told me about how much she missed her daughter, and how she got an envelope every two weeks with new pictures her daughter had printed for her from her Sprocket.
This is what makes the HP Sprocket and HP Sprocket Plus so special. They offer what social media is supposed to offer us: connection and conversation. Ultimately, the HP Sprocket series is offering a low price on a good time.