There’s so much focus these days on digital photos. But it’s nice sometimes to have something tangible. A pocket printer is a perfect holiday gift for the creative types who could find ways to use them, from selfie-loving teens and tweens to scrapbooking stay-at-home parents.
We take hundreds of photos, storing them on our mobile devices and/or in the cloud and posting them on social media sites. You won’t get perfect, glossy 4×6- and 5×7-inch prints you can frame and hang on the wall from a pocket printer (for the most part). But you will get tiny, adorable, sometimes stick-able prints to decorate your notebook, laptop, or locker, pop into your wallet, use in a scrapbook, or combine to display in a fun and unique way.
What is a pocket printer?
Pocket printers are handheld miniature printers that typically connect wirelessly to a mobile device, like smartphone and tablet, for printing photos. They usually use special paper that has ink already built into it, the most common type of which is called ZINK. Insert the paper, edit the photo from your mobile device using the printer’s partner app (if it offers editing capabilities), then print. Heat activation works to create a replica of your photo on paper.
Pocket printers are great for a number of reasons.
Take them anywhere
As the name implies, you can take pocket printers virtually anywhere. Most fit in the palm of your hand and can easily pop into a purse or backpack to snap photos on the go. Kids can take them to school, adults to office parties or family gatherings.
They are easy to use
Pocket printers are super easy to use. In most cases, you simply pair one with your smartphone or tablet and use an app to select photos you want to print. Some pocket printer apps let you do things like add borders, filters, emojis, stickers, and/or fun text to the photos before printing them. The prints are usually 2×3 inches in size and the paper often has an adhesive back so you can peel and stick the photo wherever you want to.
Prints are useful in a number of ways
Popular with teens and tweens who love to display the tiny photo booth-style photos in their rooms, on their school planners, lockers, the back of their smartphones, backpacks, and other places, a pocket printer can be useful for a variety of different types of people and in different situations. They’re great, for example, for parties. Snap photos of guests you can print and hand over to them right away. Have one at more elaborate parties or company events with a fun photo booth set up so guests can get a keepsake photo posing with props along with a digital one.
As noted, scrapbooking has also become a popular hobby these days. With pocket printers, you can print tiny photos to place throughout the book, depicting events, vacations, or even moods, to liven up the project. Add tiny family photos to greeting cards, create photo collages of the family, pets, customers, or friends – the possibilities are endless.
What pocket printers are available?
There are a variety of different types of pocket printers from which to choose.
The Fujifilm Instax Mini Link is a fun little option that uses Bluetooth and a motion sensor to pair with a mobile device. Choose from 27 frame templates, filters, collage, and even split print options to apply to your photos using the app before printing on Instax Mini film, or just print straight, unedited pics. A really cool Party Print feature allows for connecting up to five smartphones to the printer for creating group photos. Using Video Print, you can select specific frames within a video to print. Need to re-print another copy of a photo for a friend? Turn the device upside down, press a button, and voila! Note that you’ll need to buy Fujifilm Instax Mini film separately.
The Canon IVY Mini Wireless Photo Printer also pairs with a mobile device via Bluetooth and has customization options in the app, including frames, filters, and text. It comes with 10 sheets of 2×3-inch peel-and-stick, water- and tear-resistant ZINK photo paper to get you started, including one smartsheet that optimizes the printer for the best quality before you start printing pics. Keep in mind that you’ll go through the included 10 sheets of paper pretty quickly while experimenting so it’s a good idea to pick up a pack of additional sheets so the person can go wild.
Another pocket printer option from Canon is the Selphy CP1300 Wireless Photo Printer, which isn’t as compact as the others, but is still portable, wireless, and focuses on outputting smaller photo-sized prints. It is Wi-Fi-enabled for connecting to a network and other devices. It also has a memory card slot and USB port for printing photos directly from memory cards or cameras, computers, and other devices. It’s also AirPrint compatible for wirelessly printing from a compatible Apple device. It works with the Canon PRINT Inkjet/SELPHY app for printing from social media sites like Facebook and Instagram via a mobile device. You’ll get larger 4×6-inch postcard-sized prints at 300 x 300 dpi resolution, with each photo printed in under a minute. To use the printer on the go, you can opt for the optional battery pack that allows for printing up to 50 prints per charge. The Selphy CP1300 is actually classified as an inkjet printer and uses standard 4×6-inch photo paper and special ink cartridge replacements.
When you think instant prints, most of us automatically think of Polaroid, the company that invented the concept with the original Polaroid camera. And Polaroid is indeed still making instant printers, albeit with more modern features and designs. The Polaroid Hi-Print Pocket Wireless Photo Printer is the newest model. It uses Bluetooth, the Hi-Print mobile app, and dye-sublimation technology to print photos wirelessly. Like the others, you can print pics as is or personalize them with filters, stickers, and text. Using the optional film, you can print 2×3-inch photos that Polaroid says won’t fade or distort over time. The printer is super-portable and pocket-sized, so it’s easy to take with you in a purse, briefcase, or backpack. You can buy printer paper separately in packs, just like with the other printers.
If you’re trying to find the perfect holiday gift for a creative person on your list, or the teen or tween who seemingly has everything and only asks for cash or gift cards (where’s the fun in that?) a pocket printer is a great idea. They bring a twinge of nostalgia to those who recall the days when photos were shared as tangible items and we flipped through physical albums, not scrolled through social media feeds and digital camera rolls to see photos. It’s a quick and easy way to break out the best moments and ensure that they’re kept for posterity.
The younger generation is beginning to appreciate the idea of “retro” concepts, like vinyl records, simple arcade games, vintage tech, and yes, even physical photos. So, any of these handy pocket printers would be welcome under the tree this year.
Check out plenty of pocket and other specialty printers at Best Buy Online.