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Updated August 2022
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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 all opinions about the products are our own. 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 all opinions about the products are our own. 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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HOW WE TESTED

We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

32
Models
Considered
60
Consumers
Consulted
22
Hours
Researched
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Buying guide for Best home printers

Printers have become essential tools not just in business, but in home-use situations as well. If you have a computer, laptop, tablet, camera, or smartphone, chances are that you need a printer. How you intend on using that printer, however, will ultimately determine which is the best one for you.

Because the cost is comparable, and cartridges last for months instead of weeks, laser printers tend to be the wiser option. If you need your printer to perform other duties such as double-sided printing, scanning, copying, color printing, borderless printing, or faxing, make sure that the model you are considering is capable of accomplishing these tasks. A decent capacity tray will come in handy, even if you don't print in high volumes.

Key considerations

Output statistics

The BestReviews lab staff examined each printer’s output statistics: pages per minute, color quality, and so on.

Features

Few printers just print any more; multifunctional models abound. What’s more, the prices of these machines are now well within reach of the average home user. Are print-only machines worth the expense? Do these models save you money or grant a better performance? Our lab staff noted and tested the features offered by each printer we considered.

Connectivity options

Most printers can still plug into a computer, but WiFi is everywhere now, and an increasing number of machines print wirelessly from smartphones and tablets. During testing, we noted the offerings of each model.

Should you buy a laser or an inkjet printer? Yes, the laser vs. inkjet question is a big one, but other issues also figure prominently. For example, should you go monochrome or full peacock? A single-purpose model or an all-in-one number with scanning and faxing capability?

Color vs. monochrome

Little difference exists between the cost of a color printer and the cost of a black and white printer. So why not have the color option? There are several reasons, actually.

The best monochrome printers are:

   •    Compact

   •    Fast

   •    Easy to use

Although a color printer may be more cumbersome and slightly more expensive than a black and white model, the benefit is undeniable: you get color prints.

As such, some consumers find it prudent to buy a cheap monochrome printer for text printing and an all-in-one color printer for everything else.

Notably, all of the monochrome models we looked at were laser printers, designed for rapid output of large amounts of text and/or black and white images. Even the very best inkjets struggle to produce text that's as sharp (particularly at sizes below 12 point), and when they do, they run much slower because they're on a “high resolution” setting.

Expert TIp
I recommend plugging your printer directly into a wall AC outlet and not into a power strip or extension cord. Printers can pull a lot of power when they first start up, or when they first start a print job, and that can cause issues if you’re using a power strip or extension cord that isn't designed to handle that kind of power.
BestReviews Electronics Expert

Single-function printer vs. multifunctional printer

Should you buy a single or multifunctional printer? In general, this is an easy question to answer. If you can find a quality color printer with fax, scanning, and copying capabilities for the same price as a printer without those functions, the decision is a no-brainer.

However, some situations exist in which you might prefer a single-function printer. Consider the following:

  • If you want photo-realistic output of high quality, you almost certainly want a specialist machine that focuses solely on the task at hand.

  • A printer with a built-in scanner would probably serve the needs of most consumers, but if you require high-resolution scans for trade printing or graphic displays, a machine dedicated entirely to high-resolution prints could be your best bet.

  • Business owners might prefer a more robust single-function unit that can consistently handle their heavy output demands.
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Expert Tip

When you first set up your printer, do a test print of at least 12 pages. This can help work out any issues you may run into with smearing or debris stuck in the machine. 

BestReviews Electronics Expert

Inkjet vs. laser

This is always going to be a difficult question to answer, and even the BestReviews lab testers had differing opinions.

However, all agreed that your final choice should depend largely on what you intend to use the printer for.

In the early days of home printers, the choice between inkjet and laser was rather straightforward. Back then, laser printers created images with superior detail, but the machines were prohibitively expensive.

Inkjets were far more affordable, but the final product wasn’t nearly as sharp.

Today's printers employ the same basic technologies, but much has changed.

  • Laser and inkjet printers share similar price tags. And although laser toner remains much more expensive, you get up to ten times as many pages from a cartridge.

  • Print resolution is no longer an issue. Even cheap inkjets render a decent output. The graphic quality of our inkjet finalists is well above average.
Expert TIp
Always keep extra printer paper around. It stinks to run out of paper in the middle of an important print job--so be sure to stock up on paper.
BestReviews Electronics Expert

Features

Most inkjet and laser printers offer similar features. Almost all can communicate wirelessly with your smartphone or tablet. Many offer WiFi so you can share the printer with other users. And, as we've seen, scanning, copying, and faxing are common.

Here are some notable “other” features you might be interested in:

  • Paper tray capacity: If you do a lot of printing, a large-capacity paper tray comes in handy.

  • Automatic feeding: If you print lots of envelopes or cards, automatic feeding of multiple sizes is useful.

  • Automatic duplexing: This feature is great for those who want to execute rapid double-sided printing.

  • Borderless printing: This is great if you want to print lots of photos, but you should check the print sizes available before making a purchase.

  • Ink refill subscription program: A program such as this could save you money, but we urge consumers to think about their usage patterns before choosing a printer with this feature. It’s not necessary for everyone.

Price

It's possible to buy a cheap printer for less than $50, but the faults of these bargain models frequently outweigh the savings. And, the truth is, a decent machine could cost you just a little more than $50. Even at the top end of the pricing scale, a high-quality multifunctional printer is remarkably affordable.

"When considering the price of a printer, also consider the cost of ink or cartridges. Many printers are priced low, but their ink costs are sky high. Laser printers have a higher upfront cost, but many are cheaper when viewed over their entire life cycle."
STAFF
BestReviews

A note about ink quality

Of course, you want your prints to last forever — especially if you use your printer to create copies of treasured photos. But some inks fade over time. Here’s what you need to know about ink technology as it stands today:

  • Inkjet inks fall into two categories — dye-based and pigment-based. Dye-based inks are 100% liquid; the color is dissolved in water. Pigment-based inks have solid particles in the mix and consequently last longer.
  • Testing suggests that some images created by cheap replacement ink fade in as little as three months. This may be extreme, but it’s a known danger of buying remanufactured cartridges.
  • Ink purchased directly from the printer manufacturer may cost more, but the images rendered from it could last longer. The reason: this ink will probably be part pigment (the black) and part dye (the colors).
  • If you want your photo images to retain their richness for years, consider a specialist photo printer and the corresponding ink and paper. You'll pay more, but you’ll enjoy remarkable technology.

Tips

We wholeheartedly endorse our highlighted printer models, but what if you’re still not sure which product is right for you? After all, your printing needs may differ from those of your neighbor.

Keep these pointers in mind when making your final decision —

If you need high quantities of monochrome/grayscale printing, choose a monochrome laser printer. This unit will offer you:

  • Fast printing
  • Sharp detail
  • High-volume capability

If you need high quantities of business printing, choose a color laser printer. This unit will offer you:

  • Fast printing

  • Fine detail

  • Quality presentation (though not best for photos)

  • High-volume capability

If you need a general-purpose home or small business printer, choose a color inkjet model. This unit will offer you:

  • A lower initial investment
  • Cheaper ink
  • Good photo quality

If you need large quantities of high-quality photo printing, choose a specialist color inkjet printer. This unit will offer you:

  • Exceptional visual quality
  • Prints that hold their color for decades
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Expert Tip
When connecting your printer to WiFi, make sure you connect to your primary WiFi network and not your guest network. Connecting it to your primary WiFi ensures that your printer will be able to receive print jobs from other devices on your network.
BestReviews Electronics Expert

What printers are best for working from home?

While the tasks you need to do as you work from home will dictate many of the features and functions that make a printer right for you, there are a few particular things you'll want to consider when choosing a printer for your home office.

  • If you work with mostly Mac devices, make sure the printer you buy supports AirPrint
  • Paying a little more can get you a smaller printer, which is handy in home offices where space is tight.
  • If you have to sign a lot of paperwork for your job, get one with a scanner
  • You may be able to claim your printer as a business expense, so keep your receipt.

 

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