The 9 Best Instant Printers

Updated October 10, 2017 by Vann Vicente

9 Best Instant Printers
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We spent 41 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. So you want to give your grandma that awesome photo of you and her at the family reunion, but she doesn't really understand how to use modern tech. With one of these micro printers, you can use your mobile phone to instantly make her a hard copy. They are compact and portable, so you can take them wherever you go. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best instant printer on Amazon.

9. Prynt PW100003-BL

You don't have to be tech savvy to use the Prynt PW100003-BL. It simply attaches to your phone and, within seconds, you get a photo. It even saves a video with each picture that you can relive later. Unfortunately, the images it makes lack sharpness.
  • every print is a sticker
  • convenient cloud storage
  • only compatible with iphones
Brand Prynt
Model PW100003-BL
Weight 14.9 ounces
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

8. SereneLife PICKIT20

At roughly the size of a large smartphone, the SereneLife PICKIT20 is one of the most compact models available. It can easily fit in your pocket, purse or backpack. Also, it is equipped with D2T2 technology that allows it to make clean, borderless photos.
  • includes mobile app
  • cartridges are easy to refill
  • only holds 10 sheets of paper
Brand SereneLife PICKIT20
Model PICKIT20
Weight 12 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

7. Kodak Dock

If you carry around a lot of different gadgets with you, then the Kodak Dock is a great option. It can connect to Android and iOS devices, as well as flash drives. It also comes with a micro USB dock where you can charge your phone while you wait.
  • detailed images
  • free lightning adapter
  • lacks a rechargeable power source
Brand Kodak Dock
Model KOD-PD450WUS
Weight 3.3 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

6. Canon Selphy CP1200

The Canon Selphy CP1200 is a popular pick because of its affordable price, multiple connection choices, and solid output quality. It does a good job of producing realistic-looking color and maintaining detail in both bright and dark images.
  • memory card slot
  • intuitive and simple controls
  • speed is somewhat slow
Brand Canon
Model 0599C001
Weight 3.9 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

5. SkyMall SK-MPB

The SkyMall SK-MPB features dye sublimation technology that produces crisp, vivid photos. It also comes with a free app that automatically connects to the model and lets you add text, borders or filters to your images before they are made.
  • protective coating preserves photos
  • straightforward instructions
  • does not show remaining prints
Brand SkyMall
Model SK-MPB
Weight 10.6 ounces
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

4. Epson PictureMate PM-400

If you intend to keep your pictures around so you can revisit them in a few decades, the Epson PictureMate PM-400 is a great choice. It produces images that are scratch, water, and fade-resistant and can last in album storage for up to 200 years.
  • compact space-saving design
  • unit is very fast
  • reliable and consistent quality
Brand Epson
Model C11CE84201
Weight 6.6 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

3. Polaroid ZIP

On just a single charge, the Polaroid ZIP can print 25 sheets of vibrant, colorful, and smudge-free photos using Zero Ink technology. Also, it weighs just 6.6 ounces, which makes it really easy to bring to a family outing or birthday party.
  • available in a variety of fun colors
  • pictures can be edited directly
  • password protected
Brand Polaroid
Model POLMP01W
Weight 12 ounces
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

2. HP Sprocket

The HP Sprocket is an attractive option because of its sleek and modern design. If you love sharing your memories on the web, its integrated application can link to your various social media accounts and directly use pictures you've posted online.
  • quick recharging time
  • bluetooth connectivity
  • great editing features
Brand HP
Model X7N07A
Weight 7.2 ounces
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

1. Fujifilm Instax SP-2

The Fujifilm Instax SP-2 is equipped with a laser exposure system that significantly speeds up printing. It functions as its own access point thanks to Wi-Fi Direct and is a breeze to take with you anywhere for on-the-spot sharing.
  • shows how many photos are left
  • social media friendly
  • high-resolution output
Brand Fujifilm
Model INSTAX SHARE SP-2 SILVE
Weight 16 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

A Brief History of The Instant Photograph

Today's instant photo printers would not exist without the instant photographic technologies that preceded them. First developed by Edward Land in 1947, instant photographs, like the printers that now use the term, are not actually instant. Instead, they use a rapid photochemical process contained within the film itself that takes just a few minutes to develop. When compared to the time it takes to get film developed and wait for prints to come back, however, they may seem nearly instantaneous.

The first instant films produced both a positive and negative image. After development, you'd have to peel them apart and the negative could be re-used to make enlargements and contact prints in a darkroom. As the technology developed and became more popular among casual photographers, who often had no use for the negatives, positive-only versions took over the market. The version that produced a square image with a white border around all sides is what most people know as the Polaroid. That specific style of film, however, was not introduced until 1972.

Until 2008, when it ceased production of all instant films, Polaroid dominated the market. Unfortunately for them, the rise of digital photography resulted in a rapid decline in sales into the 21st century. While companies like Fujifilm have picked up the technology in recent years, marketing instant film to young people as a hip, retro trend, digital continues to dominate the market.

While it has spelled disaster for the film industry as a whole, digital photography has drastically improved access to what we call instant photographs. The possibility of holding a physical copy of a picture in your hand within seconds of taking it has become far more accessible, especially with the advent of wireless printing.

Today, printers designed explicitly for that purpose are more accessible than ever. In fact, they're smaller and more portable than most Polaroid cameras, even when combined with a smartphone or compact standalone digital camera. There are ink-less options, as well as those that print on standard photo paper, which brings the cost per print down considerably. Best of all, you can be selective about the images you choose to print, since they offer the option to review your selection before printing. While some may miss the element of surprise inherent in a traditional instant photograph, the end result is prints that are worth keeping every time.

How Digital Photography Changed the Game

Though the technology was neither widely useful nor accessible to the public for several decades, the first digital photograph actually dates back much further than you might expect. In 1965, NASA used a digital process to capture an image of Mars from an unmanned spacecraft. About ten years later, the first digital camera was built by an engineer at Kodak. While not intended for mass production, it successfully captured very low-resolution, black and white images to a cassette tape.

It wasn't until 1988 that digital cameras were able to create files recognizable by computers. A few years later, in 1990, the first one hit the consumer market. Over the course of the next two decades, the technology got cheaper, more advanced, and, most importantly, more compact. Today, billions of people carry cameras with them at all times, mostly in the form of cell phones.

This technology is what has enabled the re-emergence of instant photography. Without such ubiquitous and highly portable cameras, the compact printers that make today's instant prints possible would not be useful. High speed wireless connectivity provides another major boost to the process.

While not everyone values physical prints, today's instant printers have tapped into a large market. They make it possible to share keepsakes from an experience in real time, and are also useful to fans of photo albums and scrapbooking. Best of all, you don't just get one copy. You can print and re-print to your heart's delight, until everyone in the picture has a copy to take home with them. You can also perfect the images as you go with editing tools on your camera, computer, and even on the devices themselves. All this results in better and more shareable printed photographs.

Uses For Instant Printers

There is no shortage of reasons to buy an instant printer. Perhaps you're driven by nostalgia for the instant photographs of the past. While you won't get to enjoy the process of watching them develop before your eyes, the images these printers make are high-quality, and make great mementos.

For consumers, the appeal of a physical photograph is more than just nostalgia, however. While digital photo frames do have marginal popularity, most people prefer to adorn their desks, refrigerators, wallets, and walls with the real deal. Sending a loved one a file just doesn't compare to handing them a print. And while many people own color printers for their home, they're primarily designed for documents and not images. Those that can produce photographs are slow, complicated, and expensive, not to mention the sizing options may be awkward or limited. Instant printers take the hassle out of producing beautiful and sharable prints.

For businesses, instant printing technology has plenty of marketing potential. If you're creating a branded experience, for example, what better way to send your audience home than with an image of themselves in the environment you created for them. They can also be useful in retail stores, theme parks, and much more.

When it comes to these printers, the possibilities are endless, and the technology is only improving. The quality of the images they can produce gets better every year. The speed at which they print is increasing in tandem. At this rate, it's only a matter of time before they can make truly instant prints a reality.



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Last updated on October 10, 2017 by Vann Vicente

Vann Vicente is an undergraduate Economics student and writer who lives somewhere in the Eastern Hemisphere. He spends about half of his time watching films and is still smiling about Moonlight's incredible Best Picture victory.


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