One thing modern smartphones do very well is take a photo. Over the years, integrated cameras have been getting better and better, to the point that many of us (myself included) barely take our dedicated cameras out of the drawer – let alone out of the house. My DSLR is getting rather dusty and lonely in a cupboard on its own and that’s purely down to the fact that smartphone cameras now offer fantastic quality (which will only continue to improve) and are just so convenient as we always have them with us.
Our use of images is also rapidly changing. We post our snaps online to share them with friends and we can display them on our on TVs as slideshows. However, one thing that less and less nowadays is that photos aren’t being printed. Yes, you can walk into a store and have them printed but I’ve never personally felt inclined to do so. In fact, there are times when I hark back to the days of the Polaroid. Not for its bulk (let’s be honest it was a beast) but for those instamatic printed images.
Printing on the go isn’t a new ‘thing’ – there are plenty of portable printers out there but they all just print. But now we can use Prynt, a portable printer with a couple of added tricks.
In essence Prynt is a portable printer. It connects to your iPhone (5s and onwards) allowing you to print photos on the go. It uses ZINK technology which means no there’s no need for ink (as long as you use the proprietary photo paper) and it has a rechargeable battery so doesn’t rely on the power of your phone. So far, so handy.
What’s in the box?
Things are pretty simple in terms of packaging. In the plain white box you’ll find the Prynt(er) itself, a starter pack of printer paper and a Prynt branded micro USB charging cable.
Prynt itself is just a little larger than two packs of playing cards side by side and weighs 270g, so it will fit easily in your bag and won’t add to much weight to proceedings if you do need to carry it around.
Open up a flap on the back of the Prynt and you can load in the perfectly sized paper. It looks like 10 sheets would be the maximum the device can carry.
How does it work?
Printing duties are handled by the Prynt app (which is available on the App store). In order to connect the phone and printer together, you slide the iPhone into the docking mechanism on the Prynt itself. The unit I had for review was actually intended for the iPhone 6/6s Plus but my iPhone 7 still worked very well with it.
When docked, the app will present you with a number of features. You can see examples of creations by other Prynt users (think of it as an Instagram feed for Prynt users), you can take fresh pictures to print or access your phone’s photo library to create prints from your existing photo stock.
Once a photo has been chosen, you have the option to reframe the photo to fit the Prynt paper. You can then use filters to get the desired look, or frame it and even add stickers. Up until this point, the experience is similar to any other portable photo printer you may have used. From here, however, you have the option to do things a little differently.
Prynt includes the option to record a video (or use an existing one on your phone) and the video is then embedded within the data of the photo you have chosen to print. Once you print the photo, it doesn’t look any different to the naked eye but if you view them with the Prynt App, you will see the photo magically come to life and the embedded video will play on the recipient’s screen, all using what I have to assume is some form of augmented reality. The photo paper also serves as a sticker, so if you wish, you can peel off the back off then stick the photo anywhere you choose.
I can see a couple of fantastic uses for these features. I am the parent of 14 month old twins and they do some fantastic stuff together. Being able to capture memories and have video hidden in a photo would be great for myself and my wife to look back on in years to come. To be able to send these to relatives who are further away would also be a lovely memento. All they would need is the Prynt app on their phone and they’d have a magical memory that would be hard to achieve any other way. It would also be great to capture special moments at weddings, birthdays or a family get together and again have those videos stored forever into the photos you have taken and printed. On the app there is an option to mail a free Prynt, so you can send someone a special memory as a surpise. I can imagine this would be something lovely to receive in a birthday or anniversary card.
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I’ve already taken some lovely test shots of the twins toddling about it will be great to watch the embedded videos back in a few years’ time. Yes, I could just watch the video on my phone but this way I can show the twins the photos in a few years and amaze them with the spectacle of seeing that photo come to life. My eldest daughter (who is five) was amazed by the photos (at her age, she has rarely seen printed photos) and putting the app on her iPod touch means she can share that magic for herself too.
Using Prynt is simple and the results are magical but there’s a downside, which is the cost. The Prynt device itself, with a small pack of 10 sticker papers, has an RRP of £129.99/$149.99. This, in itself, isn’t bad for a printer that is truly portable and doesn’t need ink, so you make a saving there. But then comes the pinch, the price of the compatible paper.
Right now, the cheapest photo paper I could find was pretty much 50p per sheet regardless of how big a pack you buy (in the US, a pack of 50 sheets is priced at $25) . It wouldn’t be so bad if they were 6×4 sized prints but when you consider these sticker sheets are 2 x 3 inches, they’re not sort of thing you are going to put into an album. For me, that is just too much for too little. While I can see Prynt getting lots of use when new, after your first 50 sheets (if you even get that far) I can see the device being used less and less. Stop buying the sticker paper and you have a printer that you can’t otherwise print with. If you average this out over just 50 2×3 photos, the cost per image is £3.10 and that, in my view, is just too expensive.
For families with new additions, especially a first child, and for big special occasions, I can see a device like Prynt being used to create some amazing memories. But overall, this is a reasonably niche device that runs the risk of becoming a £100+ investment that’s intially fun, but quickly pales.
I really do like the Prynt and what it can do, which is why it’s a deserved winner of the We Got Served Innovation award. It brings fresh and unique features to the instant photo world again, but, for me, the upfront and ongoing costs are too high for a device that’s likely to end up gathering dust next to that trusty DSLR.