this thing's incredible

The Little Printer That Turns My iPhone Photos Into Borderless Stickers

Photo: Courtesy Urban Outfitters

Growing up, I was a prolific diarist. From late elementary school through early college, I kept a daily journal — first writing by hand and then in an ever-expanding Word document — reporting on the often mundane and occasionally momentous events of my life. While it’s entertaining (and usually cringeworthy) to look back on, I recently started missing the ritual of sitting down at the end of each day and reviewing what I’ve been up to and how I’ve been feeling.

So I made a New Year’s resolution to get back into on-paper journaling. I bought a new notebook and pretty pens, but this time added a new, techy element: a smartphone photo printer that lets me insert pictures, scrapbook-style, alongside my daily musings. I did a little online research and ended up finding a deal on the HP Sprocket. The pint-sized, USB-rechargeable printer connects to your phone via Bluetooth and, on the accompanying app, lets you choose photos to print from your camera roll or social media accounts. From there, you can add text, borders, or graphic embellishments, and then simply send your image to the printer, which shoots out a two-by-three-inch photo — the size of a credit card — on peel-off, sticky-backed paper, ready to display, or, in my case, stick in my journal.

Other brands make similar printers, but I went with the HP because it’s among the smallest and slimmest of the bunch, can print full-bleed photos without a border (unlike the Fujifilm version), doesn’t have to be physically connected to your phone (like the cheap but bulky KiiPix), and doesn’t require ink-cartridge replacements (like this one from Kodak). It’s compact and easy to use and has worked seamlessly for me in the month I’ve had it.

I toyed with buying a colorful Instax camera but instead of hoping to get a good shot with an instant camera, I like taking a million photos on my phone and then choosing which to print. The Sprocket is actually even more portable than an Instax (it’s shaped like a smaller, stouter iPhone), though I usually just print pictures — my cat snoozing on the sofa, a homemade bowl of pasta, nail art from my most recent manicure — right at home. Now my phone isn’t where my photos go to die; it’s the print-worthy camera I always have on me.

Searching on Amazon again for the Sprocket, I realized HP recently released a new version – which is probably why I was able to get mine on sale. The only discernible difference I notice in the second edition is that you can let friends connect to your printer and it’ll blink a different-colored LED light depending on who’s printing. If that feature doesn’t matter to you, you’re probably fine with the original model which you can find for under $100.

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The Printer That Turns My Photos Into Borderless Stickers