With so many makes and models of printer on the market, and with new makes and models being released every year, it is important to know exactly what you’re looking for when it comes time to complete your work-from-home configuration. Some printers emphasise speed, some emphasise affordability, and some make sure that they have the ongoing well-being of the environment in mind when they’re doing their thing. But how do you know which printer is the best one for you?
That’s where we come in.
Geeks2U are here to help you determine which printer will best suit your needs by asking and answering a bunch of printer-related questions. Best of all, we’ve even provided you with a range of options at different price points so that your informed decision fits in with your budget.
What is the best home printer?
There are several key things to consider when deciding on which home printer is the best home printer for you, so let’s address a handful of these things with some quick-fire questions that will help us establish a baseline of your needs before we whittle things down even further.
What am I printing?
First and foremost, you need to assess why you’re purchasing a printer. Am I going to be printing documents daily? Will I be printing a lot of coloured images or photographs? Do I simply need a printer on hand for the half dozen times a year I need to print? And finally, will I need to scan or copy documents from this machine?
How much do I print?
Another thing you need to ask yourself is: am I going to be using this printer every day, once in a blue moon or somewhere in between? Your answer here should heavily influence the printer you choose because you do not want to spend a fortune on a home printer that’s only going to be used once every couple of months. Likewise, you don’t want to pick up the cheapest printer on the market only to discover that you’re going through ink like it’s going out of fashion.
Do I need to print in colour or will black & white suffice?
Related to those first two questions is the matter of whether you need to shell out for a full-colour printer, or if a black & white printer will do the job. The cost per page will increase rather significantly when you opt for the former, but you also don’t want to purchase a brand-new monochrome printer only to find that more than half the things you need to print are all colourful.
Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
Your response to the first three questions in this section should determine how you answer this one. To put it simply, inkjet printers use liquid ink whereas laser printers use a fine powder called toner. Laser machines are undoubtedly the way to go for high-volume text printing, while Inkjet is going to be the winner when you need your machine to print quality graphics. If you’re not 100% sure which is the best option, read more here.
What’s the best printer I can get on a tight budget?
We’ve chosen 3 entry-level printers from 3 well-known printer brands, each with at least one stand-out feature so that you can decide which one is right for you. They won’t print as fast as some other models, and the economies of scale won’t be the same as they are for the larger, pricier models, but these printers still offer great quality prints in a reliable machine.
One of the best value printers on the market, the HP Desk Jet 2332 AiO Printer is a brilliant little all-rounder with impressive print speed, copy and scan functionality, and HP’s famously excellent print quality. It can handle both colour as well as black & white, and it is one of the quickest and easiest printers to set up, so you can get started right away if you need to.
Another option for those that don’t use their printer a lot but would like something on hand for when hard copy documents are required, is the Epson Expression Home Printer Wireless Black XP-2105. This one can be had for less than the cost of a full tank of petrol, making it ideal for people who work from home more often than not. The trade-off is that it doesn’t offer the fastest print speed, but if you’re not printing all that often, you probably don’t need your pages quicker than the 8 pages per minute on offer here. Plus, it features colour printing, copying and scanning functionality.
If your tight budget stretches over the $100 threshold, and if you’re looking to save money by only printing in black & white, then the Brother Wireless Mono Laser Printer HL-L2305W is a smart choice. It has a large capacity sheet holder, 23 pages per minute printing, and wireless connectivity. Plus, with optional high-yield toner available, this printer combines some of the best elements from a number o the categories discussed here by quietly pushing its way into the economical printer conversation.
What is the most economical printer available?
Here’s the not-so-well-kept secret about home printers, it isn’t the cost of the printer itself that really puts a dent in your wallet, it’s the ongoing cost of ink and toner. A general rule of thumb is that the cheaper the printer, the more costly the ink or toner, so an understanding of just how much ink or toner you’re going to be using is essential.
What we’re really talking about here is cost-per-page or ‘yield’ as it is known in the world of home printing. One of the more recent developments in printing technology is cartridge-free design printers, meaning you can top up your ink without replacing the cartridge. The models listed below are all classified as economical because they allow you to get the most ink for your dollar.
For back-to-basics, straightforward black & white printing an excellent place to start is with the HP LaserJet M209DWE Printer. This machine is super quick and has a 150-sheet tray capacity in a compact, minimalist design. As with nearly all of the newer HP printers it is compatible with the time-saving HP Smart app, so you can print right from your smartphone or tablet, and the automatic 2-sided printing saves paper and keeps things simple for you.
A step up from the HP LaserJet, the Epson Mono EcoTank Printer ET-M1120 offers comparative speed and functionality with the aforementioned model, only with a cartridge-free design that increases the economy even more. With enough ink to print up to 5,000 black & white pages, you should be able to go about 2 years before needing to refill the EcoTank, which can be done with low-cost ink that comes in a convenient high-volume bottle.
At the higher end of economically advantageous printers, we have the Canon PIXMA MegaTank Printer G3620, a multi-function machine that can print approximately 6,000 pages in black & white and a whopping 7,700 colour pages before having to refill the ink tanks. The PIXMA also offers an Economy printing mode that can further reduce the consumption of black ink and is compatible with a wide range of print media. It also has a much better print resolution than the 2 models already mentioned in this category, so while you’ll pay a little more upfront, you’ll get your money’s worth in the long run.
Can I get a printer with a monthly ink or toner subscription?
Another of the more recent developments in home and small business printing, one that addresses a long-standing issue with ink and toner replacement, is the introduction of ink and toner subscription services. These services, powered by smart printer technology that sees your printer recognise when ink or toner is running low, automatically order ink top-ups for you. This takes an oft-forgotten task off your plate, allowing you to get on with more important matters, while actively preventing you from running out of ink at the most inopportune time, something we’re sure everyone has encountered at least once in their life.
All the major printer manufacturers now offer some variation of an ink subscription plan, with some plans offering a discounted price on the automatically triggered ink purchases while others charging you a monthly fee for a set number of printed pages, with the option to purchase extra pages if required. At the very least, you’re probably going to be getting free shipping with a subscription plan, which means not only do you not have to drive to the store to purchase ink, but you also actually get it delivered for no additional cost.
A full analysis of the subscription plans offered by Brother, Canon, Epson and HP is an article unto itself, but this was definitely an important question to ask and something that should be considered when deciding which printer manufacturer and model to commit to with your next purchase.
Should I be getting an all-in-one?
Not all home printers are just about the printing. As with most forms of technology these days, multi-functionality is a huge selling point. In fact, similar to how making phone calls is now one of the least used functions of your mobile phone (it is for us, at least), printing has taken a bit of a backseat to some of the other tasks you can achieve with a home all-in-one.
Also known as multifunction centres, these home printers can be used to not only print pages but to copy, scan and sometimes even fax too. To be perfectly honest, we’re not sure how relevant faxing functionality is these days but copying and scanning are both low-key lifesavers when it comes to personal and small-business admin tasks.
It’s true, we have already recommended a handful of these MFCs or all-in-ones in previous categories, but we’re nothing if not comprehensive at Geeks2U. Besides, the more options you have, the more likely you are to find the right printer for your needs.
The HP ENVY Inspire 7921E Printer is another all-in-one that combines many of the best features of other models. It is a cloud-connected smart printer that automatically updates itself with the latest software, ensuring that it is always compatible whether you’re printing from your laptop or mobile phone. What we like best about this one is its dedicated photo tray, which means no easing around working out how and where to put your photo paper, and the 35-sheet capacity automatic document feeder, which means you don’t have to stand there feeding sheet after sheet when copying or scanning documents.
Right on the border of where personal meets small business MFCs is the Brother Wireless Mono Laser MFC Printer MFC-L2750DW, a laser printer/copier/scanner that offers brilliant value for money. This one combines a large, 250-sheet paper tray, printing speeds of up to 34 ppm, scanning speeds of 24 ppm through the 50-sheet automatic document feeder, and impressive print and scan resolution. With all that as well as ePrint, GooglePrint and Wi-Fi direct printing from any of your devices, this all-in-one is a great option for families who are getting serious about their printing/
What is the best printer for a small business?
The printers we’ve selected in this space are a step up from standard all-in-ones discussed in previous sections, both in terms of output as well as price, having been designed to keep up with the needs of a busy office. What you’ll notice with these printers is that they offer a lot of the features mentioned with smaller models, only without so many trade-offs.
The HP LaserJet Pro M454nw Colour SFP combines a 300-sheet tray capacity with a 27 ppm maximum speed ensuring that you can print on and off all day long if you need to. It has other notable qualities too, not least of which is the HP Auto-on/Auto-off energy-saving technology as well as the default paper-saving mode which as the name suggests helps to save paper and reduce waste. This one also comes with your Black, Cyan, Magenta and Yellow toners pre-installed, so you can start printing immediately.
Another printer that is ready to print from the get-go is the Canon Pixma MegaTank MFC Printer AIOG7065. A refillable ink all-in-one with a noteworthy print resolution, this Canon MegaTank combines excellent quality and functionality making it ideal for the home office. If we had to get all nit-picky, and sometimes we do, we would need to mention that photo-printing isn’t exactly where this machine shines, but then again, that’s not really why you’d choose this model. With excellent document printing and the economic value of the refillable ink you really can’t go wrong.
We were a little hesitant to include the Epson EcoTank Pro Colour MFC Printer ET-5800 in this list simply because it is the only $1k or above printer we’re going to endorse in this article. Honestly, as far as home printers are concerned, this is an ambitious recommendation, but we’re sure you’ll allow us the leeway just this once. Another refillable ink tank printer that pretty much takes everything great about the previous two suggestions and turns those features up to 11, this MFC get rave reviews from Officeworks customers and is well worth the not-insubstantial outlay, particularly if it is going to be used by multiple users.
What if I need to print in A3?
Below we’ve chosen one affordable and one higher-end printer for when you need to print in a larger size.
The Canon PIXMA Home A3 Colour Inkjet MFC Printer TS9560 is a great value home printer that allows you to print in any size up to A3 as well as on non-traditional media such as card stock, nail stickers and magnetic paper. It has an automatic document feeder, lets you print directly from your laptop, smartphone or SD card, and best of all, comes with 45 built-in patterned paper styles that are perfect for people who enjoy creative printing and scrapbooking.
A more task-specific printer, the Epson SureColor A1 Inkjet Printer T3160N prints A1 sheets in just 34 seconds with clear, quick-to-dry results. This printer is ideal for printing maps, posters and schematics, and includes an integrated auto-cutter that comes in handy when utilising 24” paper rolls. With a large 4.3″ Colour LCD touchscreen panel and all-around stylish design, it is a wonderful option for CAD, GIS, POS, posters and educational applications.
Do you need any more help with picking the right home printer for you?
Regardless of which option you decide to go with – one of the home printers listed above, or one of the dozens of other options out there – we can help! Geeks2U can provide expert advice and make sure that your new tech purchase is not only appropriate for your needs but also that it is calibrated exactly how you need it to be.