The only Christmas present on my wife’s list this year was an HP Sprocket printer. I must admit to being a little embarrassed because I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about. What kind of tech blogger am I anyway?
After she explained what the Sprocket was, I jumped on-line and did some research of my own. The Sprocket is a printer that utilizes ZINK (Zero Ink) paper. Each piece of the paper is a multi layered packet that is impregnated with heat activated dye crystals. The printer contains the heating element, not traditional print heads. These things are the new trend for “crafty” types and most printer manufactures are making at least one model of ZINK printer.
So basically, we’re talking about the digital age version of a Polaroid camera. In fact, the Polaroid company makes one of these things with a camera attached. It’s called the Polaroid Snap. They all have an embedded camera or hook up with your mobile via bluetooth. Most of them spit out 2X3 photos that double as stickers if you peel off the back. I was a little sceptical about how useful a 2×3 photo would be but it was the only thing she really wanted and I always like new gizmos so I dropped the hint to my mother and she ordered one from Best Buy. HP’s model is available in 6 different colors, I went with white.
After the food and present exchange, I offered to set it up for her but it was so easy to get going she’d already done it herself. She had even printed a photo from our celebration on one of the 10 sheets of demo paper that comes with it. I was impressed, the print looked great and the size was better than I had imagined. suddenly a whole bunch of uses for the thing popped into my head. Lables for my gear being chief among them. We travel in an RV and I thought of plastering the ceiling with shots from our trips.
The software is easy to use and apparently HP’s implementation is considered the best by ZINK connoisseurs. It offers easy photo touch ups, frames, stamps, text insertion and more.
I’ll let you in on a little tip. Each manufacturer makes their own ZINK paper but as long as you keep the little bar code card that comes in your brand’s first pack of paper you can use any of them in your printer. Sometime’s Polaroid’s paper is on sale, order it, scan the card that came with your HP paper and insert the Polaroid stack into your printer. On average you’ll be spending about $0.50 per print. It prints a sheet in just a couple of minutes and because its battery-powered and not much bigger than an iPhone you can easily take it with you. We’re taking ours to my son’s birthday party to make stickers for all the kids with their pictures on them.
All in all, they are neat little gadgets. I’m not sure anybody actually “needs” one but if you’ve got the extra money and you like pictures, you can come up with some pretty cool uses for it. For instance my wife, sticks the pictures on her notebook pages.