Printers

Despite everyone's move to digital paper, digital photos, and the cloud, we still all need to print something once in a while, and some of us need to print a whole lot all the time! To help you find your way through the maze of printer options available, we present to you this Home and Small-Business Printer Buyer's Guide. We profile both inkjet and laser models, and as a rule of thumb, inkjets are great for mixed text and graphics printing, and are the only printers to use for photographs. Lasers, meanwhile are best for large-volume printing, with color models suitable for business presentations.

For Winter 2017, we've updated several of our picks to keep up with changing trends in the printer market, although most have appeared in our past guides. That's because new printer models don't come out every year like other tech-related products do. Good models tend to develop a following based on quality and features. And when it comes to laser printers in particular, many of the best models on the market stick around for 5-7 years, simply dropping in price to stay competitive over time.

Epson

Generally speaking, the printers we recommend fall into three categories, "personal," "home office," and "small office", in order of speed and capacity. We label them as such to help you zero in on the one that will best meet your needs. And new to this guide is Epson's EcoTank printer, shown at left, which turns the inkjet monetization model on its head. With all other inkjets, you get a discounted price on the printer, and the manufacturer charges you over time via high-priced inks, similar to how Gilette sells razors. With the EcoTank printer, Epson charges you for the true cost of the printer (i.e., a fairly high price), as well as the true cost of ink (i.e., next to nothing). It's a very interesting option for serious at-home photo printing enthusiasts!

We use Amazon's real-time pricing engine, so displayed prices are always up-to-date. If you decide to purchase any of the products listed below, please support this website by using the links provided, which we provide for the US, Canada, UK, and Germany, with regional substitutions made where necessary.

The Printer Buyer's Guide - Winter 2017

    Personal Multi-Function Inkjet:

    Canon Pixma MX922

    The MX922 is a great all-around home office printer, and among the top-selling printers on the market that past few years. It uses five individual ink cartridges for exceptional photo print quality, and can print a 4x6" photo in 21 seconds, or black & white text at 15 pages per minute. Despite its low cost, it offers a big 3" color touchscreen for ease of use. Being an all-in-one, it also does color scanning and copying, as well as fax. In addition, it features both wired and wireless networking, AirPrint for direct printing from smartphones and tablets, and built-in duplexing.

    The Guru's Tip:

    We've said it before and we'll say it again - watch those ink prices. The high-yield black pigment cartridge designed for text is $25, the high-yield black dye cartridge is $20, and the three high-yield color ink cartridges are around $55. Replacing all five cartridges costs about $100, or ar more than the cost of the printer. That being said, no laser printer can match the photo printing quality of this unit. 

    Home Office Multi-Function Inkjet:

    HP OfficeJet Pro 8720

    This new model represents the ideal small office inkjet printer. It uses four individual ink cartridges for excellent and economical business printing, and has a rated print speed of 24 ppm black & white, 20 ppm color. It features a positively-huge 4.3" color touchscreen, allowing quick selection of copy, scan, and fax functions. In addition, it features wired and wireless networking, AirPrint for tablets and smartphones, and built-in duplexing. And unlike many inexpensive printers, this model is has input and output trays that are completely internal; no flimsy flip-out, stick-out trays to run into and break off!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Replacing all four cartridges with high-yield HP 952 cartridges (in black, cyan, magenta, and yellow), will cost about $110. The black cartridge is good for 1000 pages, while the color cartridges will last 700 pages.

    Home Office Photo Inkjet:

    Epson ET-3600 EcoTank

    Inkjet printer manufacturers have come under scrutiny over the past few years for their tendency to sell printers at a loss, and then making up for that with sky-high ink costs. Well, Epson is finally looking to shake things up a bit with its new EcoTank series. With its gigantic pre-filled ink tank, this machine can print up to 8,000 color pages before running out of ink! Adding another 4,000-6,000 pages worth of ink will only cost around $20 per bottle. With printing costs under 1 cent per page, it's absolutely the cheapest printer to operate on a per-page basis.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Take note: this model doesn't actually offer more features or better print quality than many inexpensive inkjets, and in fact omits the big color touchscreens those models offer. What you're really paying for here is the ink, and you're getting your money's worth in that regard. For heavy photo printers, this model will make a lot of sense, but for casual printer users, it probably doesn't.

    Small Office Photo Inkjet:

    Epson SureColor P400

    If you're looking for gallery-worthy print quality and are willing to pay the price, then go for Epson's SureColor P400, which is a dedicated photo printer. It has no multi-function capabilities, and it would be the wrong choice for text printing given its upfront cost and cost per page. But with eight separate ink cartridges (including its unusual orange ink), it's the best photo printer in its price range.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This printer can even print off of art-style paper rolls!

    Personal Monochrome Laser:

    Brother HL-L2340DW

    The HL-L2340DW didn't take long to become the top-selling laser at Amazon. Why? Simple - it has the right combination of features at the right price. Fast 27 page per minute printing, a text-based LCD display, built-in duplexing, wired and wireless networking, and a 250-sheet paper tray plus manual feed slot. While its "starter" toner cartridge is rated for just 700 pages, the TN660 high-yield toner cartridge provides 2,600 printed pages and only costs about $50. That works out to under 2 cents a page, a true bargain in the printer world, where vendors often get you on ink/toner costs!

    The Guru's Tip:

    As you skim through this guide, notice the codes used to indicate features in Brother printer models: "D" is for duplex, "N" is for wired networking, "W" is for wireless plus wired networking, and "C" is for color.

    Personal Multi-Function Monochrome Laser:

    Brother DCP-L2540DW

    As much as we like the  Brother HL-L2340DW listed above, if you have the space for it, there's almost no reason not to step up to the multi-function version of that printer, the DCP-L2540DW. In essence, Brother is throwing in a copier and scanner for ree. It offers even faster rated print speeds of up to 30ppm, and like the 2340DW features built-in duplex and built-in wired and wireless networking. But it adds scanning and copying via the handy 35-page automatic document feeder, as well as a flatbed for irregularly-sized sources. In terms of paper handling, it has both a 250-page paper tray and a manual feed slot.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This model uses the same toner as the HL-L2340DW profiled above - we recommend that once the 700-page starter cartridge runs out, you go straight to the high-yield toner cartridge for about $50, which is good for 2,600 pages, coming in under 2 cents per page.

    Home Office Color Laser:

    HP Color LaserJet Pro M252dw

    If you'll be doing a lot of non-photo color printing at home, you really want a laser printer for the job, rather than an inkjet. Color lasers are generally much faster, and quite a bit more economical as well, at least for large-volume color document printing. The M252dw is a dedicated low-cost color printer with no multi-function features. But at 19ppm it's relatively fast, and features automatic duplexing and a number of wireless printing options.

    The Guru's Tip:

    High-yield black cartridges for this model are rated at 2800 pages and cost about $85, while each of the three high-yield color cartridges is rated at 2300 pages and cost about $100. It will likely cost around 10-15 cents per color page and 3 cents per b&w page.

    Small Office Color Laser:

    HP Color Laserjet Pro M452dw

    Looking for a dedicated color printer without the frills of an all-in-one? This is the one! It features a rated speed of 28ppm in color or black & white, automatic duplexing, a 250-sheet paper tray, a 50-page flip-down manual feed tray, and built-in wired and wireless networking (the M452dn drops the wireless option). Replacement cartridges cost about $135 for the high-yield black toner that has a 6,000-page yield, and around $170 for each high-yield color cartridge (cyan, yellow, and magenta) with yields of 5,000.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Color lasers are intended for office color-printing needs, like brochures and charts. The color reproduction isn't suitable for photos.

    Home Office Multi-Function Color Laser:

    Brother MFC-9330CDW

    Rated at a fast 23ppm and loaded with extra features, this printer is a true small office workhorse! Unless you have a dedicated copier and/or scanner available to you, this model will likely be a better overall pick than print-only models, since it offers four functions instead of one. The tradeoff is greater bulk, and a lot more controls to figure out! Here's just a brief list of its features: built-in duplex printing, built-in automatic document feeder with duplex scanning, copying, and faxing, a 250-sheet paper tray, and a 3.7" color touchscreen control panel. It of course has built-in wired and wireless networking as well. To learn more about this printer, check out our hands-on review!

    The Guru's Tip:

    This printer includes 1,000-page yield cartridges. The high-yield cyan, magenta, and yellow cartridges cost about $70 each and are good for about 2,200 pages. The standard-yield black cartridge is actually good for 2,500 pages and costs under $60. But take note: if on average you print more than 50 pages per day, please step up to the model listed below. It has a much higher duty cycle, which really does make a difference. Cartridges aren't the only thing that wear out over time!

    Small Office Multi-Function Color Laser:

    Brother MFC-L8850CDW

    New flagship printers don't come around all that often, and after having tried out this model, originally released in early 2014, we're guessing it's going to be around for years to come. It's so feature-packed that no small business would need anything more. Rated at 32ppm for either color or black & white, this printer features 256MB of memory, built-in wired and wireless networking, automatic duplexing, color scanning and copying via a legal-sized flatbed or the automatic document feeder, fax capabilities, and an amazing 4.85" color touchscreen. And take note - its scanner can duplex scan - meaning it gets both sides of a page in one pass. It's also equipped with a 50-sheet multipurpose tray and a big 300-sheet paper tray

    The Guru's Tip:

    Replacement high-yield TN336BK black toner is about $55, and high-yield cyanmagenta, and yellow toner cartridges cost about $90 each, or $330 for all four. Rated at an amazing 4,000 pages for b&w and 3,500 for color, that's just 1.5 cents per b&w page and 4 cents for color, making this model a true bargain to operate. We strongly recommend you choose high-yield cartridges over the standard-yield TN331 model, which cost just a few dollars less but cut output by nearly 50%.

  1. Personal Multi-Function Inkjet Canon Pixma MX922 ($74.00)
  2. Home Office Multi-Function Inkjet HP OfficeJet Pro 8720 ($169.00)
  3. Home Office Photo Inkjet Epson ET-3600 EcoTank ($400.00)
  4. Small Office Photo Inkjet Epson SureColor P400 ($520.00)
  5. Personal Monochrome Laser Brother HL-L2340DW ($109.00)
  6. Personal Multi-Function Monochrome Laser Brother DCP-L2540DW ($118.00)
  7. Home Office Color Laser HP Color LaserJet Pro M252dw ($199.00)
  8. Small Office Color Laser HP Color Laserjet Pro M452dw ($294.00)
  9. Home Office Multi-Function Color Laser Brother MFC-9330CDW ($335.00)
  10. Small Office Multi-Function Color Laser Brother MFC-L8850CDW ($493.00)