When it comes to portable mini printers, HP Sprocket 200 and Canon IVY Mini are two of the most popular names out there. These small and compact printers make it easy to print photos. Recently, Fujifilm launched the compact Instax Mini Link Smartphone printer, which brings several interesting features to the mix.
Unlike the HP Sprocket 200, this one isn't a ZINK printer. Instead, it uses film to develop the small pocket-sized prints. Plus, it uses a mix of some interesting wriggles and shakes for reprinting and for switching the printing modes.
But, is it the only difference between the Fujifilm Instax Mini Link and the HP Sprocket 200 mini printers, or is there something more than it meets the eye?
Well, that's what we are going to find out in this comparison and see which one of these smartphone printers gives you the best features. Let's get started.
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Design and Connectivity
Let's start with the slightly older HP Sprocket 200. It packs a cool new look with curved edges and corners, which is further polished by the quirky patterns at the top, thus earning a contemporary look. It measures just about 4.6 x 3.1 x 1-inches and weighs around 6.1 ounces. And its slim and flat form factor means you can easily carry it on your palms to outdoor events and photo booth events.
As opposed to that, the Instax Mini Link carries minimalist design. The body has lightly textured lines with the logo in the middle, and that's about it. The textured body not only gives it a definitive look but also helps to grip the printer better.
It measures just about 4.9 x 3.5 x 1.3-inches, and wit 7.3 ounces, it weighs just an ounce more than the Sprocket 200. In short, it looks like a thick power bank.
Both are pocket-sized printers. One exhibits a minimalist look, the other sports a modern look, fir for a photo booth event or a picnic.
Both printers feature Bluetooth. In fact, the Instax Mini Link is one of the first Instax printers to feature Bluetooth instead of Wi-Fi. This feature gives you the convenience of connecting your smartphone to the printer in a matter of seconds without you having to type complicated passwords.
In the case of the Sprocket 200, you get the advantage of Bluetooth 5.0. This upgrade means you will get a better range. And that's not the end of the story. For one, you will be able to connect the printer to up to three people at the same time.
That gives you the chance to alternate the printing job between your buddies. However, it sounds better on paper than on reality, as many users have complained that this feature doesn't work as expected.
On the other hand, the new Instax Mini Link features Bluetooth 4.2 for connectivity. With that, you will most likely experience a relatively smaller range compared to Bluetooth 5.0 based devices. That said, there aren't many such devices available as yet.
Some users on Amazon have praised this printer for its simple setup and connection process.
The battery life is one of the most critical parts of any wireless device, be it a phone or a printer. While wireless mini printers are not known to have superb battery life. But of late, there have been some devices that are breaking this limitation.
Though Fujifilm has not specified the capacity of the battery, it's big enough to last you around 100 prints in a single charge. The folks at Digital Trends tested this claim and found out that printing a ten-pack film depleted around 50% of the battery.
The good thing is that you needn't play a guessing game on the remaining battery since there's a neat battery indicator on the app.
The battery is rechargeable and takes around 80 to 120 minutes to charge completely.
On the other hand, the HP mini printer is powered by a 550mAh rechargeable battery. Though HP hasn't been clear on how long a single charge will stay, tests suggest that a fully-charged HP Sprocket 200 is good enough to give you around ten prints.
That's a downer. However, you can print even when the printer is connected to a power source.
In App Features
Similar to the printer, the companion app for the Instax Mini Link app has plenty of fun elements. Aptly named Fun Mode, the feature lets you make collages, add frames & graphics to your images such as horns, angel wings, and the likes. And there's more to this story.
The Instax Mini Link has another cool feature called Video Print. In layman's language, it lets you grab a video frame to print as a photo. Up next is Party Print, which lets you connect up to five different smartphones to create a collage. It takes different parts from the five phones and combines them into a single print. Fascinating, right?
Compared to the one above, the Sprocket 200's companion app has somewhat limited features. It lets you add frames, borders, and stickers to your images. Also, you can print directly from your Facebook or Instagram accounts, and your camera roll.
Furthermore, you can scan the top of the printer to view the battery status and print status. Plus, you can add captions as well. A cool way, right?
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Here comes the major difference — which printer gives the best picture quality. As we mentioned above, the HP Sprocket 200 uses ZINK paper. That is a hassle-free printing technique since you do not have to worry about ink cartridges and toners.
For those unaware, ZINK is a zero-ink printing technology that uses heat to colorize and develop the picture. The process is instantaneous, and the good thing about it is that the photo papers are smudge resistant and waterproof.
The Sprocket 200 manages to develop pretty good photos, and they are good enough to stick to the fridge's door. The sharpness is a tad less, and they tend to lean towards the darker spectrum. But if you ask me, it's unfair to compare instant films to high-res outputs of laser printers. Because at the end of the day, mini printers are supposed to be for fun.
When it comes to the Instax Mini printer, they resemble little Polaroid prints. The colors appear a little muted with sharpness on the lower side. But then again, that's how pocket photos usually are.
Overall, the photos give off retro vibes.
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Verdict: Fujifilm Instax Mini Link
The good thing about portable printers is that they are small and lightweight and can be easily carried to any outdoor event. And well, we needn't tell you the joys of holding a real photograph. Yep, just like old times.
So, which printer does a better job?
Overall, the HP Sprocket 200 has managed to rake in pretty good reviews so far.
However, at this point, it's worth noting that ZINK photo paper can be expensive with high cost-per-photo if you print more often. On the upside, app features like collage and multiple-connections make this printer interesting.
On the other hand, the Instax Mini printer brings plenty of fascinating features to the mix, such as Fun mode, the gesture-based printing mechanisms. Above all, since it's a film-based printer, you are likely to get better photos that are sharper, though the colors are a tad faded.
Ultimately, it's a great product to add fun elements to boring printing jobs. Just get one to a family dinner or picnic, and you can actually see how the cherished memories look on paper. And the intuitive app is what sets it apart from the rest.
When it comes to the price, the Fujifilm Instax Mini Link is affordable, and the same holds for the HP Sprocket. Though the latter has a far lesser price tag. So, it's up to you to decide which feature is your priority. Do you want fun, or do you want a 'normal' printer?
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