Kodak has fired back with its new Kodak HD Instant Photo Printer. While it still prints 2-by-3.4-inch photos (other photo printers of its ilk print 2-by-3-inch pics), it’s almost an inch shorter than the other mini printers, and very close to the Lifeprint 2×3 Hyperphoto Printer and its other competitors in size and girth. And, much like its predecessor and the other portable photo printers, it prints passable photos. The output, however, isn’t nearly as good as photos printed on a few closely priced five- and six-ink consumer-grade photo printers from Canon and Epson.
Shrinking the Instant Photo Printer
At 1 by 3 by 5.2 inches (HWD) and weighing 8.4 ounces, this printer comes in either all-white or all-black and is closer in length to the Polaroid Insta-Share. The HP Sprocket is nearly an inch shorter and weighs about 2.5 ounces less than this printer. Though it may not sound like much, that inch or so makes a lot of difference when toting the device around—especially if you’re carrying it in your pocket.
Like the other pocket photo printers mentioned here, this printer works wirelessly from only your iOS- or Android-equipped smartphone or tablet. It has very little by way of a control panel—just a power button and two status LEDs (On and Connected) on the left edge, and there’s a mini-USB port, a Reset button, and a charging status LED on the back edge.
Connecting the Instant Photo Printer
Depending on the capabilities of your smartphone or tablet, you can connect to the Kodak using one of four wireless protocols: Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, near-field communication (NFC), and Bluetooth. I tested all four methods from a Samsung Galaxy J7 running Android 7.1.1. Wi-Fi Direct and NFC are peer-to-peer networking protocols that allow you to connect your mobile devices to the printer without either them or it being connected to a network or router. Bluetooth, too, is a router-less protocol, but unlike Wi-Fi Direct and NFC, which are one-to-one connection types, Bluetooth is one-to-many.
The Kodak Instant Photo Printer App
The Kodak app is nearly identical to the software that comes with the original Kodak. The opening screen offers you several choices, including Camera, Gallery, for accessing the photos saved on your smartphone or tablet (Apple iOS devices have slightly different options), and Connect, for accessing the cloud and social media sites mentioned earlier.
After you open an image, you can choose to either print it or edit it. The editing options are robust. They include: Adjust, for changing brightness, contrast, saturation, and color levels; Filters, for applying enhancements; Decorate, for adding text, borders, airbrushing, and stickers, such as hearts and stars; and several other editing and enhancement features. You also get several templates to turn your photos into business cards, greeting cards, or to simply add decorative frames.
Print Speed and Output Quality
Of the portable photo printers we’ve looked at recently, this is one of the slower ones, at an average of about 1 minute 20 seconds per print. It’s about 2 seconds slower than its predecessor, the Kodak, 38 seconds slower than the HP Sprocket, which prints 2-by-3-inch photos, as does the Lifeprint 2×3, which is about 50 seconds faster than this.
In terms of quality, most of these devices print, well, okay photos, but a lack of black ink causes them to come out with less depth, especially in images that contain a lot of blacks. In the case of this printer, I printed 28 photos, using all the consumables Kodak sent me—eight inside the printer out of the box, and the 20-pack the company included with the review unit.
Cost Per Photo
Kodak offers three different sizes of consumable packs for this: a 20-pack, a 30-pack, or a 50-pack. Based on the company’s advertised yield sizes and prices, I calculated the cost per photo at 75 cents, 73 cents, and 70 cents, respectively. Kodak also offers a 20-pack of 2-by-3-inch adhesive-backed paper that lets you turn your photographs into stickers, for $19.99, which comes out to about $1 per print.
Is Smaller Better?
Frankly, aside from its price, its size, and the size of its consumables cartridges, there are not a lot of differences between the Kodak HD Instant Photo Printer and its predecessor, the Kodak Photo Printer. Print quality and print times are about the same, as are the prices of the paper-and-ink cartridges. Granted, that 0.8-inch difference in length does indeed make it easier to carry around with you, and this is closer in size to its competitors. That makes it a better choice than the previous one.