If you’re familiar with ZINK (zero-ink) printers, then you may have heard of the Lifeprint. It’s a tiny, battery-powered, wireless printer that uses ZINK technology to spit out 2 x 3-inch stickers. The twist with Lifeprint is it’s also part of a social network and throws augmented reality in there for good measure.
The part of the Lifeprint Hyperphoto printer that had the most appeal to me is the printing. I’m old enough that the thought of a color printer that’s small enough to fit in a pocket is still cool. Especially one that has no wires and runs on a battery. A print takes about 30 seconds, comes out dry (no smearing), and I got about 20 prints before having to recharge the battery.
However, as a printer, the Lifeprint has a lot more appeal to my kids. Its dead-easy to load (slide the lid off and drop in a pack of Lifeprint Photo Paper) and thanks to its use of ZINK technology, there are no ink cartridges to worry about.
However, the tradeoff to that is output that’s limited to 2 x 3-inch, glossy stickers. Although they could also be glossy cards—no-one says you have to peel off the backing. Resolution isn’t particularly high, and the color range is a limited. After many attempts, I’ve yet to coax a truly bright red out of it. In other words, this is not the portable printer for high quality 4 x 6 prints of your favorite photos. But it’s the kind of thing a lot of tweens and teens like. Stickers! And stickers you make yourself, from your mobile device, including the ability to print from your social media feeds.
The app (iOS and Android) also has a full-featured editing suite that makes it easy to tweak images, add text, special effects, and all the extras that kids expect.
Social Networking and Hyperphotos
Not content with being a mobile, custom sticker-generating factory, the Lifeprint printer and app are also part of a social network. Another thing I don’t need another of, but that my kids are all over.
As part of the printing process from the app, you’re prompted about sharing the photo through the Lifeprint network. Do so, and any friends or family who “follow” you on Lifeprint will see the photo and can choose to print it on their printer.
And here’s where the augmented reality comes in. Lifeprint supports “Hyperphotos.” What this means, basically, is a short video clip of 15 seconds or less. You can shoot the clip yourself or grab one of those GIFs from your social media feed. Print it as hyperphoto and one frame is designated to be the “photo” part of things (you can manually choose it). When someone prints that hyper photo, pointing their smartphone camera at it will trigger the associated video clip to play within the app.
Who’s It For?
Don’t think of the Lifeprint Hyperphoto Printer as a portable photo printer. Although it can sort of do that… Instead, think of it as a printable extension to social media sharing, with some fun extras like custom stickers on demand, and that’s closer to the reality. The kind of stuff your kids will probably eat up.
The $129.99 (currently $119.55 on Amazon) Lifeprint Hyperphoto Printer includes a USB charge cable and a 10-pack of 2 x 3-inch ZINK stickers. Additional ZINK paper packs start at $19.99 for 30, with larger quantities offered at volume discounts.
Disclosure: Lifeprint provided a Lifeprint Hyperphoto Printer for evaluation but had no input into this review.