Best Printing Calculators

Updated December 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

39 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
381 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best printing calculators

Last Updated December 2019

Depending on your line of work, there are some tools that are considered essential. If you’re an accountant or store manager, or you run any kind of business, one of those tools is the printing calculator. This may sound like an archaic device, but when used properly it saves time and adds that much-needed documentation that every item was entered and tallied correctly.

The best printing calculator is large enough that you can easily strike the correct keys yet small enough to fit on your desk. It has a long-lasting ink cartridge or ribbon spool and features high-speed printing. Additionally, the calculator must include any and all the functions you need, have sufficient memory, and be intuitive to operate.

If you'd like to learn more about the multitude of options when selecting the best printing calculator, keep reading. If you already know what you’re looking for and would just like some highly rated recommendations, consider the handpicked items that we've listed in this article.

Muscle memory, a procedural memory that allows you to perform specific tasks, can last a lifetime. If you’re replacing a printing calculator, it’s important to look for a model with the same key size and layout or you might end up making many frustrating mistakes.

Key considerations

Functions

A printing calculator is only of use to you if it can perform the specific types of calculations you need. You can purchase a model that has all the bells and whistles, but if you don't need to depreciate or amortize, you're paying for functions you’ll never use. Because of this, the first step in narrowing down potential models is to focus on the printing calculators that can perform the operations you need to use most.

The printing mechanism is the most costly element of a printing calculator. It’s also the most vulnerable to wear and tear. Besides making sure you purchase a quality printing calculator with a decent warranty (three years), you'll also want to consider the following factors.

Ribbon

Twin-spool: Most printing calculators use a twin-spool ribbon (red and black) for the printing mechanism. In these models, the ribbons are exposed, increasing the chances that they’ll dry out and not last as long as a cartridge.

Cartridge: Ribbon cartridges are harder to find and more expensive, but they also tend to last longer and are much easier to change.

Paper

External roll: By far, most printing calculators have an external paper roll. Even though this is the standard, it leaves your printing calculator susceptible to damage: arms can break off and dirt and dust can easily contaminate the paper.

Enclosed roll: Some higher-priced models have an enclosed paper roll. This is the better option because there are no parts that can easily break off, and the print mechanism and paper are better protected from dust and other contaminants. The downsides are that these units can be hard to find and have a much larger body.

Thermal: There is a third option for printing, and that is purchasing a printing calculator that uses thermal paper. Thermal paper doesn’t require ink to print (the special paper is sensitive to heat), so it can save you money. Additionally, a thermal printer is faster and quieter. The downsides are the paper rolls are more expensive, the printed image doesn’t last as long as ink, the paper can be installed incorrectly, thermal paper only prints in one color, and these types of machines tend to cost more.

Printing

Speed: If you’re using your printing calculator often and speed is important, a heavy-duty model can print nearly twice as fast as a light-duty model. But rather than look for adjectives (because some companies use misleading words), simply check the number of lines per second your chosen printing calculator can print. The best models print over four lines per second.

Quality: It goes without saying that if you’re taking the time to print out your numbers, you want them to be easily readable — no confusion between 5 and 6 or 8 and 0. Therefore, a printing calculator with crisp, high-quality printing is essential.

EXPERT TIP

The most frequently used functions in business are addition and subtraction. It’s unwise (and costly) to purchase a printing calculator with a bevy of functions you’ll never use.


Alissa  | Child Care Professional

Printing calculator features

Here are a few more elements you’ll also want to consider before settling on the ideal printing calculator for your needs.

Size

You need a printing calculator that is small enough to fit on your desk but large enough so that your fingers can easily strike the proper keys.

Power

Most printing calculators are powered by plugging the unit into an outlet. Even if you purchase one that works on batteries, you’ll want an AC adapter, too, because printing can run the batteries down quickly.

Keys

Feel: It's impossible to know if you like the feel of the keys before you have the printing calculator on your desk and are using it. However, you can look for other features, such as large, cupped key that have some tactile reference mark on the number 5 key so that you can properly position your hand without looking.

Layout: Each printing calculator has a slightly different key layout. If you’re replacing an older calculator, try to find a layout that most closely matches that model so there is less of an adjustment period.

Antimicrobial coating

Some printing calculators have an antimicrobial coating that can help reduce bacterial growth, odors, and gradual discoloration. If this is important to you, look for a model with this feature.

Screen

Most printing calculators have a 12-digit screen, but some are rather tiny. If you prefer a large display so the on-screen numbers are easier to read, look for a model that offers this advantage.

Weight

If you plan to carry your printing calculator around with you, you might want a lightweight model that can be easily transported. However, if you’re looking for a unit that you can plug in and leave on your desk, it's not a bad idea to get one with some weight to it so that it feels sturdy while you’re using it. Additionally, you want a printing calculator with a nonslip base so that it won't slide across the desk while you’re using it.

Storage

Some printing calculators have a built-in compartment so you can store a spare paper roll inside the unit. If this is desirable, keep an eye out for models that have this.

EXPERT TIP

When considering the value of a printing calculator, don’t forget to factor in the ongoing cost of paper and ink.


Staff  | BestReviews

Printing calculator prices

Inexpensive: If your needs are basic (not much more than addition and subtraction), you can find a limited number of printing calculators below the $25 mark.

Mid-range: Most individuals will need to look in the price range that roughly spans $25 to $50. These models offer a decent assortment of functions and durability without being too costly.

Expensive: If you want a high-end model, you’ll likely need to spend more than $60. These models have Cost, Sell, and Margin keys, are large, and feel solid. Additionally, they are easy to operate, have a clean layout with a great deal of functional versatility, and are able to print faster than four lines per second.

EXPERT TIP

The smallest printing calculator isn't necessarily the best option. You need a model that’s large enough for your hands so you can quickly and easily strike the correct keys.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

If you start to experience problems with your calculator's printing abilities and you’re certain you haven't run out of ink, don't panic. The most common causes of print failure are dirt and dust. Here are a few cleaning tips to help you keep your printing calculator both looking great and working as it should.

  • Keep cleaning supplies on hand. The basic items you need for cleaning your printing calculator are a can of compressed air, a microfiber cleaning cloth, cleaning solution, and toothpicks.
  • Don’t eat or drink near your printing calculator. This means no muffins or coffee at your work desk.
  • Power down and unplug the calculator before cleaning it.
  • Remove ink and paper first. In order to clean where your machine needs it the most, you have to open the protective cover and remove the paper and ink (cartridge or ribbon spools).
  • Spray the calculator with compressed air. Hit all exposed areas with compressed air to remove dirt and dust. Don’t use sprays containing cleaning solution or disinfectant. Spraying your device with liquid can cause internal corrosion and short-circuiting.
  • Use toothpicks carefully. If you have particularly stubborn buildup, use a toothpick to dislodge the gunk. Be extremely careful not to damage any of your calculator’s delicate parts.
  • Reassemble the calculator and wipe it down. Replace the ink, paper, and cover. If you need to wipe down the outside, spray the cleaner lightly onto a microfiber cloth and carefully wipe down the machine’s exterior parts.

Other products we considered

If the high-quality printing calculators that we’ve spotlighted elsewhere in this article don't perfectly meet your needs, here are a few more top-ranking models worthy of consideration. If printing speed isn't your primary concern, the lower-priced Victor Printing Calculator prints 2.3 lines per second, is manufactured using 20% recycled plastic, and features an extra-large 12-digit display. If you'd like to add some pizzazz to your workspace, the 12-digit Catiga Desktop Printing Calculator includes a number of special feature keys, runs on four AA batteries, and has an easy-to-load design for the paper, but its eye-catching feature is the vibrant pink color.

When applying for a job, did you know that besides being asked how many words per minute you can type, you may be asked about your ten-key experience? This is typically measured in keystrokes per hour. An error-free 8,000 kph is considered high-speed.

FAQ

Q. Why would I want a printing calculator when I have Excel?
A.
That isn't the best question to ask. Instead, try asking yourself, "Why wouldn't I want to increase my productivity and elevate my accuracy by using a printing calculator in conjunction with Excel?" Using Excel without a printing calculator is like using a keyboard without a mouse. Adding the mouse enhances your ability to more efficiently and more effectively accomplish your tasks.
 

Q. What is two-key rollover?
A.
Sometimes (or often, depending on the user), you may depress a second key before your first finger has fully lifted off the first one. In lower-quality printing calculators, that second key won’t register and you’ll wind up entering the wrong number or missing a function. On high-quality calculators, both keys will register individually in the order that they were pressed, which vastly decreases the possibility of an error.
 

Q. What makes a printing calculator heavy-duty?
A.
In general, it’s the printing speed that determines the classification of a printing calculator. A model that prints three or fewer lines per second is considered a light-duty printing calculator. A medium-duty device can print between three and four lines per second. The highest rated printing calculators, the heavy-duty models, can print more than four lines per second.

The team that worked on this review
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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