Sun. Jun 23rd, 2024


Key Takeaways

  • The HP Sprocket Studio Plus Photo Printer delivers high-quality prints, but there are noticeable color discrepancies that can’t be ignored when printing photos.
  • The printer’s inkless technology may be the cause of the color issues, and while it offers cost savings and easy cartridge installation, it can also cause the printer to overheat and leave a pink hue on prints.
  • The associated app is stable and fun to use for photo editing, but the Wi-Fi connection is finicky and requires manual reconnection, making the printing process more effort than necessary.


Photo printing seems like an antiquated concept, but the HP Sprocket Studio Plus Photo Printer keeps it relevant with a convenient size and cost-saving inkless printing. While the print quality is crystal clear, significant color discrepancies and a spotty Wi-Fi connection are tough to overlook.

I grew up during the photo printer renaissance when brands like Kodak, Canon, and HP convinced households to buy costly designated devices to build photo albums and fill picture frames. Fast forward umpteen years and the need for a separate photo printer seems less practical, considering how digitized we’ve become. The usual suspects are still at it, pushing more compact, portable photo printers, but as the HP Sprocket Studio Plus shows, the kinks are still somehow being worked out.

Easy to use on the fly and small enough to store until it’s needed again, the Sprocket Studio Plus has its high points. Unfortunately, where it stumbles is pretty significant. While the photos are high quality, the coloring is noticeably off, and the printer heats up very quickly.

HP-Sprocket-Studio-Plus-V1-1

HP Sprocket Studio Plus Photo Printer

An all-in-one printer that connects your smartphone via Wi-Fi. Take pictures, customize them in the photo-editing app, and see your beautiful, captured moments come to life as they are printed.

Brand
HP

Type
Photo printer

Color Printing
Yes

Scanner
No

Weight
2.54lbs

Print quality
300 dpi

Print technology
Dye-sublimation

Connection
Wi-Fi

Dimensions
8.27 x 5.31 x 3.56in

Pros

  • Compact and easy to store
  • Sprocket app very easy to use
  • Photos are clear with no smudges
  • Cartridges have high output capacity
Cons

  • Loud while printing
  • Most photos are discolored
  • Not all app features compatible with printer
  • Rechargeable battery would have been a nice touch

High-Quality but Off-Color Prints

The one thing a photo printer has to deliver is a high-quality print, and the HP Sprocket Studio Plus achieves this to a degree. Printing your photos is very easy. You’ll select the image or images you want to print via your phone’s camera roll in the Sprocket app (available on iPhone and Android devices), press the “Print” icon, and wait while the printer noisily does its magic. The Sprocket Studio Plus auto feeds from a detachable tray; you just need to give the paper room behind the printer as it cycles in and out of the small device during the process.

HP Sprocket Plus Photo Printer with printed images of puppies
Jason Montoya / How-To Geek

Unfortunately, you shouldn’t expect the photo you print to be identical to how it looks on your phone or in real life. I obsessively printed a number of images of my cats, one of which is a very distinct mocha, grey, and tan mix. When printed through the HP Sprocket, he started to show spots of very obvious orange. Most prints I tested all had some deviation in color from the original image, unless it was predominantly orange or red, like the stills of my other, very orange cat.

Related: 5 Reasons You Should Print Your Smartphone Photos

While the clarity of the image is ideal, the discrepancy in color can’t be ignored. Imagine printing your wedding photos only to find that the color scheme has changed on you. It’s an anomaly that I couldn’t figure out or fix, and there are so few internal settings that there wasn’t much to do except try a new cartridge, which changed nothing, or darken the image to remove some of the color, which defeats the purpose of printing the photo.

Going Ink-less

Installed inkless cartridge into side of HP Sprocket Plus
Jason Montoya / How-To Geek

I suspect being inkless (using dye-sublimation technology) is why the color was so off on so many photos, and I question whether the cost-savings are worth an album full of discolored memories. It’s especially not if you’re looking to fill an album in one sitting, as the printer can overheat and leave a pink hue on all of your prints.

The one good thing about going ink-less is the output capacity. Each cartridge can yield about 80 images. For comparison, the high-performance HP 97 Tri-color Inkjet Print Cartridge yields about 200 photos but costs $74.99. Two cartridges and 80 sheets of paper for the HP Sprocket Studio Plus are only $34.99.

The cost difference is significant, and installing an ink-less cartridge is simple and completely mess-free through a side compartment.

Fun and Simple Photo Editing

One of my favorite features of the HP Sprocket Studio Plus Photo Printer is its associated app. While connection issues were rampant (which I’ll discuss shortly), the app was very stable and didn’t exhibit any slowdown, allowing me to really dive into the editing features.

Editing your photos using the available options was quite a bit of fun. Borders, texts, color presets, cropping, and so much more are available to customize your photos. I was disappointed to find that this printer was incompatible with features like pre-cut sticker printing. While you can build a small photo collage, there are third-party apps that give you more freedom.

Frequent Connectivity Issues

A major point of contention I had with the Sprocket Studio Plus Photo Printer was its Wi-Fi connection. The initial connection was fairly easy, requiring you to use your Android or iPhone to connect to the printer and then set up the Wi-Fi connection for the Sprocket. I noticed when I powered the device down, though, that connection didn’t always automatically kick in. I had to manually reconnect my phone to the Sprocket’s signal, which also meant disconnecting the Wi-Fi on my smartphone.

It was a minor annoyance at first, but as I started to use the printer more, the more I felt it was more effort than necessary. Why a Bluetooth link isn’t an option baffles me a little, especially since the Sprocket Studio Plus is entirely reliant on a wireless signal being available to work at all.

Should You Buy the HP Sprocket Studio Plus Photo Printer?

There is already such a niche audience for something like the HP Sprocket Studio Plus Photo Printer, and the issues I ran into shrink that potential audience even further. The Sprocket has some high notes, such as its simple design, detachable paper feeder, and high-yield ink-less printing. Unfortunately, none of that means much if there’s an issue with the photos being printed—and with the Sprocket, there is a significant one.

I was put off by how often the color was noticeably wrong on my prints, especially when it came to turning so many colors into a shade of orange. The printer is also a little temperamental and can overheat easily, leading to a pinkish hue on your photos. You don’t really know when it’s overheating, so expect to either take frequent breaks or have to reprint the occasional image.

All of this coupled with a finicky Wi-Fi connection made it difficult to get excited about printing photos directly from my phone. It should be a fun project, but I was too distracted by the un-fixable discoloration that completely changed entire shades in my cat’s fur or altered colored lighting.

HP-Sprocket-Studio-Plus-V1-1

HP Sprocket Studio Plus Photo Printer

An all-in-one printer that connects your smartphone via Wi-Fi. Take pictures, customize them in the photo-editing app, and see your beautiful, captured moments come to life as they are printed.



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By John P.

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