Best portable printers in 2023. HP mini printer
Best portable printers in 2023
The best portable printers allow you to print from wherever you are, whether you’re on a business trip or relaxing on a beach. By combining the ability to print into a compact device you can slip into a laptop bag or backpack, you can print documents and photos anytime time and anywhere. With Wi-Fi connectivity and often an optional battery, a mobile printer gives you the freedom to print even if you’re away from an outlet.
Most portable printers are small, coming in at less than 5 pounds. Many even come with rechargeable batteries and car chargers for use on the road. Despite the small size, a lot of portable models still offer full-page printing with the same inkjet technology you’re accustomed to. Many even have scan and copy capability to give you full functionality even when you’re away from the office.
A few models ratchet up the portability by adopting more exotic technologies, like thermal printing in black-and-white, or shifting some functions (like document scanning and copying) to another device, like a smartphone. But the end result is the same, letting you take printing on the go.
The best portable printers you can buy today
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Reasons to avoid
This HP OfficeJet 250 maximizes what you can do on the go, offering fast copying and scanning, in addition to fast print speeds—with high image quality across the board. This portable printer is on the pricey side, but it offers a lot of features and performance in a compact package. The most immediate payoff is a large, 2.6-inch color touch screen, which makes for easy operation.
Better yet is a small, 10-page automatic document feeder for copying and scanning. This is the only portable printer we’ve tested that offers copy and scan functions, but with no flatbed scanner, the printer draws paper through the body of the OfficeJet for scanning and copying. Scans weren’t always straight, and the paper path’s 60-degree bend left me nervous about it possibly damaging photos. But having scanning and copying capability on the go is well-worth these compromises.
The OfficeJet 250 printed text very quickly from a PC, at 9 ppm. On battery power, text printed at 7 ppm. The OfficeJet 250 also printed quickly our six-page PDF of text and color graphics, taking 1:57, compared with the average of 2:27. Photo printing was extremely fast, as well. A 4 x 6-inch glossy photo printed in just 37.6 seconds, at default settings, and in just under 50 seconds at the high-quality setting. The closest competitor, the HP Tango X, took 1:15. The OfficeJet also was the fastest when printing from an iPhone, making a photo print in 42.9 seconds.
Copy and scan speeds were fast, making a color copy in 19.5 seconds, compared with the average of 28.7 seconds for desktop inkjets. The OfficeJet made a black-and-white copy in 13.1 seconds, versus the 16-second desktop average. It made a 600 dpi color scan to JPEG in 1 minute and 21 seconds, and a 300 dpi black-and-white scan to PDF in 20.1 seconds (desktop models average 11 seconds).
Best of all, the speed didn’t come with any trade-off in image quality. The very high-quality photo prints had rich, well-saturated colors, pleasing midtone transitions, and lots of fine details. Text documents printed with dark letterforms and edges looked quite sharp. Graphics on plain paper were equally attractive. Document scans looked accurate, with only some sharpness lost on text edges. Photo scans were attractive, with accurate colors and plenty of detail.
The HP OfficeJet offers mobile and Cloud printing, but there are some quirks. Using the HP Smart iPhone app was problematic—the app turned a five-page.doc file into a four-page document, while the.docx version was reformatted onto six pages. Photos printed from the Box Cloud storage service did not print in full. Roughly two-thirds of the photo would print—but the rest of the paper was left blank.
Ink costs for printing text documents are about average for portable printers, at 9 cents each. With standard cartridges, cost per color page is high, at 23 cents per page. Using high-yield cartridges, you can lower this to 17.3 cents, though this is still higher than the 15.5 cents per color page you get with the Canon iP110 when using standard cartridges. You can save even more money by using HP Instant Ink, HP’s subscription service for ink refills by mail.
Reasons to avoid
One of our favorite portable printers is the Canon Pixma TR150, a compact inkjet that’s small enough to carry in a backpack, but still offers excellent document and photo printing. With a two-cartridge ink system and printing for text documents, graphics and even glossy photos, the Pixma TR150 is a solid choice for portable printing. It doesn’t offer copy or scan functionality, but at 199, it’s also a great option for your book.
An optional battery lets you use it when you’re away from a wall outlet, but even without it, the Canon Pixma TR150 is one of the most portable and travel-friendly printers out there, weighing less than the HP OfficeJet 250 and offering a more affordable print-only option.
The Pixma TR150 measures a compact 12.7 x 7.3 x 2.6 inches when closed, and weighs just 4.5 pounds – and weighs only 5.1 pounds with an optional battery attached. It opens up to a larger size, accommodating a 50-page paper tray, a basic control panel and plenty of connectivity, so long as you don’t need a card slot.
It also offers excellent print speeds, a five-page document in 38.7 seconds, or 7.8 ppm.
In addition to its great mobility, the portable Pixma TR150 made high-quality photos faster than other competing portable printers, and delivered excellent color and detail. It can also handle larger photo prints, but unlike some of our photo printing favorites, there is no copy or scan capability. You do get a solidly-built portable printer with optional battery and even support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice controls, but we love it for the great photos and low ink costs it offers.
Reasons to avoid
Of the four models outfitted with a battery, the Epson WorkForce EC-C110 is the least expensive. With the WorkForce moniker, this mobile printer is sold by business equipment resellers, and might be the best portable printer for business users. Of the inkjet models here, it is the lightest, weighing just 3.5 pounds.
You lift the lid and lean it back to serve as the 20-sheet input tray. Doing so reveals a small, 1.4-inch color LCD and four-way control buttons. Prints come out a slot on the front panel. You can use the LCD and buttons to change settings, configure Wi-Fi, and so on. You also need it to confirm the paper size, which I was prompted to do every time I loaded paper.
The EC-C110’s print speeds were slower than the average. Text printed at 5.8 ppm, versus the average of 6.9 ppm. Running on battery power slowed the EC-C110 substantially: Text printing slowed to 3.4 ppm. Our six-page PDF of mixed text and color graphics more slowly than any other inkjet in this roundup, taking 3:16, or 1.8 ppm. The average was 2.4 ppm.
The EC-C110 printed a photo at default settings from a PC via USB in 1:11. Printing at high resolution slowed the EC-C110 to 3:59. Over Wi-Fi Direct at high-quality settings from an iPhone was agonizingly slow, taking 5:28 to print one photo; printing a second snapshot took almost 7 minutes.
Print quality was high across the board. Text looked dark and sharp, though the letter edges looked a little rough up close. Color graphics printed with natural-looking colors and sharp details. Glossy photos looked very attractive.
Costs per page are better than the portable printers average. Estimated costs per page are 8.8 cents for text and 17.8 cents for color.
I ran into a glitch when trying to print 4 x 6-inch photos from a Windows 10 PC. In the print driver, an error said, “photo doesn’t fit on selected paper.” The online FAQ did not help, but changing the default paper size to 4-x-6 in the Windows 10 printing preferences solved the issue.
When printing with an iPhone, the EC-C110 had a tendency to drop the Wi-Fi Direct connection before I could finish printing. Resetting the connection and re-entering the password seemed to solve this issue.
Cloud printing may not always be seamless. The Epson iOS app reflowed text in.doc files opened from Box, the online storage service, turning a five-page document into a seven-page reflow that would not be worthy of a business meeting.
This Epson WorkForce model delivers below-average costs per page, Wi-Fi Direct connectivity, an LCD and control panel buttons, but low battery life and slower-than-average print speeds limit its appeal.
View our Epson coupon codes to help you save on the Epson WorkForce EC-C110
Reasons to avoid
The Brother Jet 773 offers a convenient way to print documents in a very compact package. It’s the smallest and lightest printer in this roundup. Being a direct thermal printer, it prints only in black-and-white and uses special thermal-reactive paper instead of standard printer paper. It does not print onto photo papers. Because it doesn’t use ink cartridges, you don’t have to worry about running out of ink.
Designed to work in settings such as a police patrol car (for which there is a vehicle mount), the Jet 773 works with roll paper and fan-folded paper, in addition to individual sheets. Accessories include rugged cases for roll paper and fanfold paper, and a cigarette lighter adapter.
The Jet 773 prints text documents from a PC with dark letterforms with very sharp edges, however, some text looked lumpy around the edges, reminiscent of a dot-matrix printer. Text quality was also low in text documents printed from an iPhone. Graphics (converted to black-and-white) looked very pixelated, with obvious banding and flat black shadows. On occasion, the Jet printed pages that were crooked or cropped incorrectly. This may have been due to following a print too quickly with a fresh page (you must feed one sheet at a time).
The Jet 773 printed more slowly than the mobile inkjet printers we tested. It was the slowest at printing our five-page text document (1:02). It also was the slowest at printing our six-page mixed text and graphics PDF (3:46), even though it was printing it in black-and-white (the inkjets printed it in color).
Going mobile isn’t cheap. A battery runs for 123.99. And be careful when buying the printer online, since it is generally sold on its own, without the power cable or battery needed to power it.
Paper isn’t cheap, either. Direct thermal printers require specialty thermal paper, a hundred sheets of which costs 13.99, or 14 cents per page. But if you don’t mind curling paper or folded paper, you have options. A 600-sheet continuous roll of thermal paper lowers printing costs to 10.3 cents per page. Fanfold paper costs 9.5 cents per page. By contrast, desktop inkjet printers offer costs per text page of 7.7 cents with standard cartridges, and 5.9 cents with high-yield cartridges, on average.
2022 BEST Portable Photo Printer Instax Mini Evo & Mini Link, KODAK Mini Shot 3 & CANON IVY
The price is high on this compact thermal printer. But if you need a rugged and unobtrusive printer to generate necessary documents on the go, without fear of running out of ink, the Jet 773 is a good place to start.
Reasons to avoid
The HP Tango X is a small printer made for home use and portability. It’s lightweight compared to most desktop models, at just 7.5 pounds, the Tango X is less than a pound heavier than the HP OfficeJet 250. This printer has no USB port; it is wireless-only. But unlike other portable printers, the Tango X does not offer the option of a battery.
Like other portable printers, the Tango X has only an exit slot instead of an output tray. You need a PC or smartphone to use this portable printer, because it does not have a screen or control panel.
The Tango X prints quickly. It printed our five-page text document in 30.8 seconds (or, 9.7 ppm), which was the fastest time for a portable printer. It also turned in the best time for our six-page PDF of mixed graphics and text, churning it out in 1 minute and 47 seconds, or 3.4 ppm. Its print time for a high-resolution 4 x 6-inch photo from a PC was fast, at 1 minute and 15 seconds, although the OfficeJet 250 bested it. Similarly, it printed a 4-x-6 glossy from a smartphone in a respectable 1 minute and 7 seconds, but the OfficeJet 250 was 25 seconds faster.
Print quality was reliably high. Text documents printed with dark letterforms with sharp edges. Graphics had lots of fine detail and colors looked natural and well-saturated. Photos printed on glossy paper were equally attractive.
Copying and scanning are the Tango X’s Achilles’ heel, however. The Tango X relies on a smartphone to take a picture in the HP Smart app and then print it, which is not really copying or scanning, in the traditional sense. Testing these features on both an Android phone and an iPhone, it was clear that the quality did not hold a candle to a physical copier and scanner, such as the one built into the company’s OfficeJet 250.
Text printing costs per page are below the average for portable printers, at 8.5 cents. Cost per color page, however, is above the average, at 21.8 cents, though you can reduce that to 18.1 cents by using high-yield cartridges.
Lacking a battery option, the Tango X’s mobile capabilities are limited—but it’s still very portable. It’s just that it’s better understood as a single-function printer rather than a smartphone-enabled multifunction device.
How to choose the best portable printer
When selecting a portable printer, you’ll want to consider a few key factors, such as how you intend to use the printer, what your document printing needs are and what level of portability will be best suited to your circumstances.
Printing needs: Do you need color printing or even photo printing capability? All of the printers listed above are inkjet models, except the Brother Jet 773, which is a direct thermal printer and only prints in black-and-white. The HP OfficeJet 250 is the only model with an automatic document feeder for copying and scanning.
Portability: Portability is largely a question of size and weight. The HP Tango X is the largest of the bunch, measuring 15.3 x 24.4 x 10.2 inches (W x D x H) when printing and weighs 7.5 pounds. The Brother Jet 773, meanwhile, is a slim bar of a printer that weighs only one pound. Measuring just 10 x 2.2 by 1.2 inches (W xD x H), it’s unobtrusive and very unlikely to get in the way, even in cramped environments, such as a car.
Battery: Most also have optional batteries, letting you print even when there’s no outlet to use for power. These are accessories that need to be bought in addition to the printer itself, so plan your purchase accordingly. Many of these printers also offer car-charging options, which are ideal for use in a vehicle while out making sales calls or printing during a road trip.
Functions: Most of these portable models are single-function printers. They are too small to have a flatbed scanner for copying and scanning. One model does scan and copy, however: The HP OfficeJet 250. It has a partial lid that you fold forward to reveal a slender automatic document feeder. In addition, the HP Tango X offers what HP calls “copy” and “scan” functions via the smartphone HP Smart app. However, all this really amounts to is using your phone to take a picture (or “scan” if you will) of a document and then print it (or “copy,” in HP Smart parlance). As outlined in our full review of the HP Tango X, the results were sub-par.
Price range: To help you find the right mobile printer, we considered a range of models and chose five products that we felt best represented the variety available. The printers we reviewed are priced from 200 to almost 500 (including accessories, such as a battery). in this article include a battery, in some cases as part of a kit, except for the HP Tango X, which does not offer a battery option.
How we test portable printers
To test portable printers, we performed a variety of everyday tasks. To make the results comparable to desktop inkjet printers, we performed a few of the same printing speed tests, from a Windows 10 laptop: A five-page text document, and a six-page PDF with text and graphics.
While desktop models printed text pages at 8.8 ppm, on average, the portables were not far behind, at 6.9 ppm. The portable printers almost matched the desktop printers’ 2.7 ppm average on color graphics, clocking in at 2.4 ppm. This average excludes the Brother Jet 773 because it prints only in black-and-white (and even so printed only at 1.6 ppm on this test).
For photo speed, we printed a 4 x 6-inch glossy snapshot. The Brother Jet 773, however, does not print on photo papers and was excluded from this test.
To test portability, we FOCUS on the wireless and battery-powered functions of the printer. We perform a wireless network setup, evaluating the ease of use for connecting on the go. We also print from a laptop and smartphone using Wi-Fi Direct, and gauge the differences in performance compared to wired and outlet-powered printing.
Check out all of our printer coverage:
Full Comparison Between HP Sprocket vs Canon Ivy Printer
Portable mini printers are very popular these days. You can print your precious memories in a fraction of seconds, whenever and wherever you want. They even have a battery in it, so it can run for hours without external electricity. If you want something similar to this, HP Sprocket and Canon Ivy are two portable mini printers that most buyers prefer.
It’s really hard to decide between the HP Sprocket and the Canon Ivy. Both are compact photo printers with almost identical features. This article will help you decide which option is best for you.
In this comparison, we will do a full comparison between HP Sprocket vs Canon Ivy printer to help you make the right choice.
Review of HP Sprocket Printer
HP is a highly reputed brand among printer manufacturers and the HP Sprocket printer lives up to the expectation. You will get a pack of ten 5 x 7.6 cm (2 x 3-inch) ZINK photo papers with this printer, which are enough to start printing with this device.
This printer is easy to carry as it weighs only 6.1 ounces and has a size of 2.95 x 4.53 x 0.87 inches. You can easily put this printer into your or purse while traveling. Due to its wireless printing technology, you can use it to print borderless photos anywhere, anytime by connecting it with your other mobile device. Although this printer uses ZINK photo paper, which doesn’t deliver professional quality prints, but you do get the ability to snap and print instantly.
You can easily setup and manage this HP printer by installing the HP Sprocket app on your smartphone. This HP printer can connect via Bluetooth connectivity, which makes it possible for you to convert online snapshots from social media feeds instantly into colored borderless photos. The HP app is available for both iOS and Android mobile devices.
The queuing function in this HP printer allows you to connect this.sized printer with multiple mobile devices which support Bluetooth. This is truly helpful when you are on a family trip or at a party with your friends and others want to share your HP printer with their mobile devices. By using the queuing function, you can create a list of pictures that you want to print with this HP printer and print them instantly.
You also get the option to personalize your photos before printing them. The HP Sprocket app gives you the option to customize drawings, use filters, add/remove texts, borders and emojis. The ZINK photo paper you get with this HP printer has a sticker back, which means you can easily convert your photos into stickers.
Although you can print only 25 to 30 sheets after one full charge, but the printing is really quick and almost noiseless. It takes nearly 30 seconds to print one photo. Before purchasing this printer, you should know that it can be connected to only those mobile devices which supports Bluetooth, which means you can use this printer with your computer.
Review of Canon Ivy Printer
Canon is also ranked highly among printer manufacturers and the Canon Ivy photo printer does match-up to that reputation. This mini printer is capable of printing 2 x 3-inch sized photos on the go by using your smartphone and/or tablet.
This Canon printer has a compact and thin design with dimensions of 4.7 x 3.2 x 0.7 inches. The weight of this printer is also super-light at only 5.6 ounces. Despite the small size and lightweight this printer has a solid built and professional look. Needless to say, you can easily carry this printer in your purse or This Canon printer comes with a wrist strap, which makes it easier to carry.
The Canon Ivy printer is powered by a Lithium metal battery which charges quickly, but due to ZINK technology the photo paper needs to be heat-activated before printing, which consumes a lot of battery. This printer uses good quality ZINK photo papers which are resistant to smudge, tear and water, but due to ZINK technology no ink is used for printing which means the prints are not up to the professional standards.
The Canon imaging app for this printer can be downloaded for free. After installing the Canon imaging app on your smartphone, you can use the Bluetooth connectivity option to connect your mobile device with this mini printer. Once connected you can choose the photos from social media sites or online photo albums for printing.
The ZINK photo paper you use for printing has a sticky back, which means you can use them to create stickers. You can then use these stickers for scrapbooks, travel journals, etc.
The Canon app of this printer allows you to customize photos by editing them. You get the options to use filters, texts, frames, emojis, etc. Along with all these features you also get the queuing function with this printer, which means you can easily share this printer with multiple mobile devices.
The Canon Ivy mini printer can’t be connected to a device that doesn’t support Bluetooth connectivity, which means you can’t connect it with your computer. Also, the ZINK photo paper of this printer is costly.
HP Sprocket and Canon Ivy Comparison
The most prominent difference between the HP Sprocket and Canon Ivy mini printers is the print quality and print speed. The Canon printer delivers a better print quality with sharper resolution, but takes longer to print one photo when compared to the HP printer. A more detailed comparison is given below.
There is not much difference in the print quality when you look at the specs of these two printers as both claim to offer same print resolution. Also, both these printers print on 2 x 3-inch glossy ZINK photo paper, which is resistant to smudge, tear and water. However, the actual printout results are better for Canon Ivy printer when compared to the HP Sprocket. The resolution is sharper, the colors are brighter and the printed photo looks more similar to the online snapshot. The cause of this difference is the Canon imaging app which is capable of printing high-quality images.
In print quality, the Canon Ivy printer wins.
Easy to Carry
The size of both these printers is almost the same, but the Canon Ivy printer is slightly thinner and has a sleek design. Also, the built quality of Canon printer is better, has lighter weight and due to the wrist strap its easier to carry.
In Easy to Carry, the Canon Ivy printer wins.
Ease of Use
The apps for both these printers have almost same features. You can edit images, create print queues, etc. Also, the apps are free for download and makes it easy to setup the printer with your mobile device. Selecting and sending photos for printing is also very easy in these apps.
In ease of use, we have ties among these printers.
Both these printers are manufactured by reputed brands like, HP and Canon. Therefore, both the printers deliver the performance which is up to our expectations. Since, both these printers use ZINK technology for printing, thus, you get fast prints, but output quality is not professional photo quality.
Due to ZINK photo paper the battery consumption is high, which means you need to recharge the printer frequently. These printers are a great option for printing photos while traveling as they allow you to save your time and money.
However, between HP Sprocket and Canon Ivy, the Canon printer delivers high-quality photos and has a sturdier built and sleek design. Despite being slightly slow in print speeds, the Canon Ivy printer beats HP Sprocket printer in performance.
In performance, the Canon Ivy printer wins.
In this full comparison between HP Sprocket vs Canon Ivy printer, you have learned in complete detail about the features and functions of these printers and how they weigh-up against each other. Although our final verdict is that the Canon Ivy mini printer is a better printer when compared to the HP Sprocket mini printer, but you can choose which one is the best for you based upon your requirements.
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HP Sprocket 2nd Edition Photo Printer Review
Theano Nikitas is a Maryland-based tech writer whose work has appeared on CNET, DPreview, Tom’s Guide, PopPhoto, and Shutterbug, among others.
HP Sprocket Portable Photo Printer
The HP Sprocket 2nd Edition gains improvements in design and operation over its predecessor, including an intuitive and full-featured app. But the print quality still depends on ZINK technology, so don’t expect the same vibrant prints you get from your local lab.
HP Sprocket Portable Photo Printer
We purchased the HP Sprocket 2nd Edition Photo Printer so our expert reviewer could thoroughly test and assess it. Keep reading for our full product review.
Printing on the fly doesn’t get much easier—or more convenient—than with the tiny HP Sprocket 2nd Edition Photo Printer. Extremely portable, the strength behind this printer lies in its full-featured app.
If you currently have an older Sprocket, you may want to check out the new model with its improved app and more stable connectivity. HP also claims it has better image quality, but we think photos printed with ZINK technology, like both Sprocket models, are inherently limited in terms of how good they can look.
Design: Simple but attractive
HP embraces simplicity with the basic design of the Sprocket 2nd Edition. This tiny printer foregoes the HP logo of previous models for a marbleized finish. The unit measures 4.63 x 3.15 x 0.98 inches and weighs a mere 0.38 pounds, small enough to easily fit in a jacket or small purse.
Available in four colors—Luna Pearl, Noir, Lilac, and Blush—and with no identifying logos other than a small fabric tab in the corner, the HP Sprocket 2nd Edition is sure to pique people’s curiosity when you take it out at a party or family event.
External controls are minimal: it has a power button, mini USB port for charging, rear charge light indicator, and a front status LED. The charge light glows amber and then red when the battery is low, blinks red when it’s charging, and turns green when the battery is full. The color of the front status LED can be changed via the Sprocket app and indicates when it’s powering on, powering off, sleeping, idle, or printing.
The HP Sprocket 2nd Edition is sure to pique people’s curiosity when you take it out at a party or family event.
The printer feels well constructed, although we’d try to avoid dropping it on a hard surface. Our biggest gripe is the design of the power button, which is so low-profile (flush with the surface of the printer) that it’s difficult to press and hold for the 5 or so seconds it takes to start it up.
Setup: Quick and easy
Getting started with this HP Sprocket 2nd Edition is pretty basic. It may take longer to download the HP Sprocket app (available for iOS or Android) than it does to connect your phone to the printer via Bluetooth.
Although you can pretty much start printing immediately, the power of this printer is in its app, so it’s best to take a little time to go through preferences and settings.
Companion App: The power behind the printer
The Sprocket app deserves its own section in this review because of its depth and breadth. Even with all of its features, the app is intuitive and well organized.
Given the brevity of the little printed user pamphlet that’s bundled with the printer, it’s important to review the “How-To Help” portion of the app. There you’ll find detailed instructions along with a link to the support website and forum. You can even order paper directly from your Smart device.
The app also has a semi-AI feature called Reveal that’s kind of interesting. When activated, you can place your camera phone over the printer and see the images that are in the queue to be printed. It’s fun to use, but HP warns that keeping Reveal on may impact print speeds and quality, so we kept it turned off.
The Gallery is well organized and we especially liked having the option to display two sizes of thumbnails. Images can be accessed from your mobile device as well as from social medisources such as and Google, among others.
Basic editing is available including adjustments to color, contrast, and brightness via on-screen slider bars. For the quickest retouching, there’s an auto-fix option and, of course, filters. And, for fun, there are a number of overlays with borders, designs, text, and stickers.
New for this version of the Sprocket is the ability for multiple people to connect with and use the printer so everybody at a party or an event can share. Each person will, of course, need to download the app to do this.
Performance: A mixed bag
Start-up time for the printer takes about five seconds. That doesn’t seem like a long time until you’re trying to hold down the tiny power button with a fingernail until you see the charge light come on.
Given that the printed output measures only 2 x 3 inches, we hoped print speeds might be faster.
Actual printing speed averaged about 35 seconds for a standard print for the data to be transmitted to the printer, plus another 15-20 seconds (or more) depending on the image and how many are in the queue. Given that the printed output measures only 2 x 3 inches, we hoped print speeds might be faster.
Print Quality: Better than earlier Sprockets but still not great
While HP has made improvements to the Sprocket’s print quality with the 2nd Edition model, it still uses ZINK technology, which generally results in less-than-stellar photo prints.
With ZINK, colors are embedded in the paper beforehand and heat-released inside the printer. Because no ink or dye-sublimation cartridges are needed, ZINK printers can be designed with a very small footprint, and only require that you buy the special paper instead of ink refills. But there are some major trade-offs for the convenience.
While HP has made improvements to the Sprocket’s print quality. it still uses ZINK technology, which generally results in less-than-stellar photo prints.
That’s not to say that HP Sprocket 2nd Edition prints are bad; they’re not. But colors are not always consistent—for example, a hot pink flower we photographed skewed a little orange, and darker backgrounds often appeared muddy.
Prints also tend to curl a little on the edges when left sitting, especially if it’s humid. If that happens, just put them inside or underneath a heavy book to flatten them out. You can also remove the back of the Sticky Paper and attach it to another surface.
Price: Good value for the dollar
The HP Sprocket 2nd Edition has an MSRP of 129.99, which is a little more expensive than the you can find for most other printers in this category (you can also find deals on the HP model that makes it competitive).
Paper vary depending on the pack. For example, a 50-sheet pack for 24.99 brings the cost per print to 0.49. A 100-sheet pack brings the cost down to 0.45 per print. Like other mobile printers, you’re paying for the convenience and immediacy of printing on demand—whenever and wherever you want. Of course, you can get less expensive prints made at your local lab or order them online, but you lose the benefit of instant gratification.
HP Sprocket 2nd Edition vs. Polaroid Zip
These two mobile photo printers are extremely similar in design, although the Polaroid Zip is slightly narrower and shorter than the Sprocket and closer in shape and size to a smartphone.
Like the HP Sprocket, the Polaroid Zip uses ZINK paper. The image quality is quite similar, although we have to give a slight edge to the Polaroid Zip. The Zip also wins out with slightly faster overall printing speed and a slightly cheaper price per print.
On the other hand, the HP Sprocket app is stronger in terms of content, help, and editing controls. It’s a close call between the two.
A fun printer for instant gratification, but its retail price is somewhat high considering its flaws.
The HP Sprocket 2nd Edition mobile photo printer is a cute little device for on-the-fly printing. The ZINK technology is convenient and makes for fun novelty prints, but the actual print quality is so-so and the device surprisingly slow for something that sells itself on instant gratification.
HP Sprocket Select review
For £119/149 HP’s third-generation Sprocket Select inkless photo printer offers bigger prints in a feather-light enclosure. We try it out.
The HP Sprocket offers endless fun for those who want the instant gratification of printing out photos. While Zink (or zero ink) printing isn’t perfect, it’ll do just fine for scrapbooking and other memento-making keepsakes.
The HP Sprocket Select portable printer connects to your phone via Bluetooth and prints credit-card-sized photos on a sticky-back, Zink (or Zero Ink) paper. The Select is HP’s third-gen update to the Sprocket 200 but offers larger prints, much like its predecessor the Sprocket Plus – but without all that additional weight.
Design Features – Featherlight and ultra-portable
At a slightly crazy 18g, the Sprocket Select is wonderfully lightweight, portable, and – as its name suggests – small enough to fit into your
Unlike the standard Sprocket, the Sprocket Select is slightly larger (8mm longer and 12.7mm wider), though shorter in height. This bumps the print sizes up from 2 x 3in to 2.3 x 3.4in, roughly the size of a credit card.
The Sprocket Select includes a 10-sheet Zink paper pack. While the paper loading process isn’t complicated, you do have to do it carefully.
Remember to load the Zink paper glossy side up. Each new pack comes with a barcode sheet at the bottom which the printer must process first before it can print images. Think of this like the printhead aligning process of your standard inkjet printer, but without ink.
Zink paper consists of microcrystals that produce colours depending on the intensity of heat applied. This means the printer can become slightly warm when it’s in use.
The Zink paper loads on the top of the Sprocket Select and the cover, featuring an attractive, marbled design, comes off easily to reveal the paper tray. The great thing here is the cover magnetically snaps back in place on closing – nifty if the printer is likely to roll around at the bottom of your handbag or backpack. You can buy a case for the Sprocket if you want some protection.
The Sprocket Select loads up to ten sheets at a time – on paper at least (pun shamelessly intended). In reality, I found stacking up the paper tray led to printer jams, which isn’t really something you’d want to deal with if you’re out and about with friends. I’d also recommend keeping the barcode sheet to realign the print head if you do end up loading fewer sheets than recommended.
The Sprocket Select charges via micro-USB (cable included) and supports Bluetooth 5.0, which means it can connect to multiple phones at once. There’s an LED light to show you the charging status. In my experience, I reached a full charge within an hour while connected to my laptop.
Sprocket App – get creative!
The biggest benefits of the Sprocket Select come from the HP Sprocket app (available on Android and iOS). This is the control hub that lets you have fun with your images, whether that’s adding filters, text frames, stickers, or even tweaking the colour and contrast. Of course, you’ll also need the app to pair your phone to the printer in the first place – which is very easy.
One of the reasons the Sprocket is such a delight to use is because the app is so straightforward. It opens on your photo roll, where you can select all the images you want to print. You can combine images into a collage or print photos from Instagram, Google or
Print Quality – Zink isn’t perfect, but still impressive
My first experience with ‘zero-ink’ paper was with the Polaroid Snap instant camera. Zink has come a long way.
With the Snap, Zink prints lacked definition and saturation. There’s still a spectre of this issue with the Sprocket Select, with tones looking slightly washed, but the improvements are obvious. I was impressed.
No, the prints won’t have the same clarity as your phone display – or even Sprocket’s marketing material – but it’s still fairly detailed and crisp. Photos in bright lighting tend to print with better clarity and reds look particularly lush and vibrant.
It takes about 40 seconds for each print to process.
It’s worth pointing out that Sprocket Select is printing from a high-resolution image to begin with, unlike the Snap which felt more like a toy camera.
The Sprocket Select costs £119/US149.99 and is available from Amazon. In the US it’s available from Amazon, Best Buy and Walmart.
The second-generation Sprocket 200 sits in the same price bracket as the Select, but prints smaller images (2 x 3in instead of 2.3in x 3.4in) and only supports Bluetooth 4.2 – so your friends won’t be able to connect to it simultaneously. The Sprocket 200 does, however, come with an augmented reality feature that allows animations, maps and videos to come alive on the image when viewed through the app (though we couldn’t get it to work).
The Sprocket Select is only slightly more expensive than the Instax Mini Link (£109.99/US99.99), which clinched the top spot in our r ound-up of the best portable printers. The Mini Link uses Fujifilm’s Instax Mini Instant Film, which makes it costlier in the long run, compared to zero-ink printing (you pay £0.70/0.60 per Instant Film print vs £0.52/US0.48 per Zink print).
The Sprocket Select is undoubtedly aimed at the social media generation that indulges in the immediacy of smartphones but equally pines for the nostalgia and tangible nature of printed photos.
While instant prints on film remain expensive in the long run, the Sprocket Select, which uses a cheaper Zero Ink paper, is an excellent, affordable halfway house.
The image quality isn’t as crisp, clear and vibrant as an inkjet print from a shop, but that’s not what you’re paying for. You’re paying for the novelty of creating instant keepsakes at the touch of a button.
There’s just the reasonably high initial cost to factor.
Sprocket – Small No Ink Printer for Journals Scrapbooks
Here is my review of those cute little instant printers that are good for taking to crops or on vacation to print out pictures on the fly right from your phone. All my best tips and ideas for picking the HP Sprocket printer for travelers notebooks or journals!
Other Printers I Considered
I researched a LOT of different printers when I was looking for a tiny printer to take with me!
Here are a few I considered…
- Fujifilm Instax Share SP-3 (142), 10 Photos per Pack (10-12), 2.4″ X 2.4″ image size… seemed like a small photo with lots of white around it
- Canon IVY Mobile Mini Photo Printer (129), 50 Photos per Pack (25), 2″ X 3″ image size… this one was in the running for sure, seemed a little harder to use
- Canon SELPHY… (99), 108 sheets ink (37.99), 4″ X 6″ image size… I did NOT want to buy ink and this one seemed more like a “real” printer than a “throw in my book and take it anywhere” printer
Best Portable Scanner Printer-Top 4 Scanner Printer Reviews and Comparison
Why I Picked the HP Sprocket 200
After doing a BUNCH of research and watching all kind of videos, I felt like the HP Sprocket 200 was the best for me! Details…
- Cost 129 on Amazon
- Sprocket Photo Paper… sticky backed! YAY! and just 6.99 for 20 sheets (so less than the Canon Ivy per print)
- Picture size 2″ X 3″
- This second model had great reviews for increased picture quality
- Seemed super simple to use (it was!)
Which Sprocket Printer Is Best?
There are three kinds of Sprockets….
HP Sprocket Portable Photo Printer (99) … This was the original one and had the HP logo on the front. It was cheaper but all the reviews I read said that the photos weren’t the greatest so that was out.
HP Sprocket Plus (149.99)… I saw this one and thought, AWESOME, the pictures are a little bigger 2.3″ X 3.4″ but then realized that it was the older printer, just bigger prints with the worse print quality. I asked my photographer husband and he said go smaller better quality so this one was out.
HP Sprocket Portable Photo Printer 2nd Edition (129.99) … this is the one that I got! You can tell it is the right one because the HP logo is gone and there are speckles on the case. This is the new one with the better print quality. (way more about this one below!)
How Does It Print Without Ink?
Okay, the first question that I had when I was thinking about getting one of these tiny printers is, how the heck does it print without ink (especially once I saw that the SELPHY did use ink!)
They use special photo print paper called ZINK (ZeroInk) that uses heat to make the pictures show up… seems crazy but it works great!
How do I connect my HP sprocket?
The next thing that I needed to know was how to get the mini printer hooked up to my phone! I am not super techy, but I do enough to make things like my headphones work using the bluetooth.
THAT is how it hooks up, just go to your settings and find the little printer in your bluetooth section when it is turned on and it hooks right up!
Easy peasy! YAY! I so wanted something that would not be hard to hook up like our house printers are. It literally took seconds.
How does the HP sprocket printer work?
Next was how to get photos to print! The Sprocket has a free app that you just download from either the Apple App Store or Google Play and open (make sure to let it have access to your pictures!)
It will pull up all your pictures…
Don’t freak out, it will show it tall as soon as you pick it and you can slide it around to get the best parts to print!
This is my daughter and one of her friend’s baby! You just pick what to print in the gallery…
Down at the bottom, just pick the printer icon and it will print it out! The pictures just slides out of the end of the printer.
Making Multiple Pictures On Each Sheet
Now, here comes the crazy talk! When I was researching this I thought that a picture that was 2″ X 3″ was going to be so small that I couldn’t do anything with it.
It seemed like 4″ X 6″ was the smallest that could ever be usable, but boy was I wrong! You can so make even smaller pictures that are fun to use in on tags or in your travelers notebooks!
Here is a page from my “normal” sized travelers notebooks (so the pages are 4.375” x 8.25” each side.
The top right picture of my son with his salad is a full sized Sprocket 2 picture. The other pictures are where I make a set of smaller pictures which are still a great size to be able to see and remember the fun smile that we shared.
You can use a free app called Pic Stitch to make a bunch of little pictures print on one sheet.
Here is what it looks like when you “collage” a bunch of different pictures together…
You can move pictures around in there to get the best view!
Can You Really Throw It In Your Purse?
I got this hard case that holds my Sprocket, a few packs of photo paper and then the pictures I haven’t used in my journaling yet…
The case is 5.5″ x 3.9″ x 1.8″ inches which is super small to carry around. FOR SURE this is fun to take on trips to my son’s games and I can’t wait to take it to the convention so I can print out pictures in real time!
Sprocket Mini Printer FAQs
I had SO MANY questions about these kinds of tiny printers when I was researching… here are a few of the questions I had!
What is the difference between HP sprocket and HP sprocket 2nd Edition?
The first Sprocket (and the Sprocket Plus) have worse photo quality. Also there is some kind of fancy holographic thing on the Sprocket 2 pictures that let you go on the internet and see stuff about the location and time they were taken (I don’t use that, I only cared that the pictures were better).
What size photos does HP sprocket print?
It prints out 2″ wide and 3″ tall. When you are researching that seems super small but once you start using it you realize that is a great size for so many things!
How does an inkless printer work?
When I was researching getting a portable printer I couldn’t understand how it could print without ink… what kind of voodoo was that?
I am 52 years old and have had inkject and laser printers and they all needed ink all the time (which was SO expensive). So how do photos print without ink?
The paper you buy is Zink paper (which means Zero Ink) and uses heat to transfer the picture to the paper instead of putting ink on paper.
Check out the Sprocket 2 on Amazon now!
Here to show that being a “sandwich” Mom and caregiver doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. let’s have some fun with the madness! Tips and ideas for how to care for your kids, parents and self! Let’s share some laughs and just try to make it out alive!
Tara is a blogger, Etsy shop owner, Mom to three kids, 3 dogs, 3 cats and a turtle. Her BA in Psychology from Kent State has served her well in the new Dementia caregiver role she has taken on and her creativity is what keeps her sane!
Artsy Fartsy Life Tara L. Jacobsen, PA tara (at) marketingartfully.com (727) 415-9165 (text please)