As much as we’d all love to live in a paperless world, that reality is still far away. It doesn’t matter whether you have your own home business, occasionally work from home or just need to print school assignments and day-to-day paperwork—owning some kind of printer is probably unavoidable. The best home printer is the one that handles your routine printing tasks—whether that’s a two-sided document or a photo print you want to frame for mom and dad—quickly, easily and affordably.
Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done. Many printers seem like they’re frozen in time, still just as clunky as the model you owned in 1998. Run-of-the-mill printers are still noisy, jam easily and go through ink like your kids at an all-you-can-eat dessert buffet.
But believe it or not, printers have gotten better. The best home printers are now fast, quiet and easy to set up. Multifunction printers combine the benefits of a printer, scanner and copier. And best of all, “ecotank” printers reduce the cost of replacing ink dramatically. To be perfectly honest, printers are still the most annoying computer peripheral you need to own, but choose wisely and you will be pleasantly surprised at just how good a home printer can be.
No matter what you need from a home printer, we’ve rounded up some of the best printers you can buy today. There’s something here to satisfy your printing needs, whatever they are.
Best Home Office Printer
Epson Workforce Pro WF-7820 Wireless All-in-One Printer
The ideal home printer should be a jack of all trades, able to print, scan, copy and fax (if the now-peculiar need should arise). The Epson Workforce Pro WF-7820 is an all-in-one inkjet that handles all that, wirelessly and mall. Full duplex printing—so it can print on both sides of the page automatically—is also on tap. But this printer can accommodate unusual print requests as well.
It can print wide-format projects up to 13×19 inches, for example, which comes in handy more often than you’d expect, such as for school projects and unusual late-night printouts you need to take to the office the next day. Do you need wide format printing? Probably not—but getting it included at this price point makes getting it a no-brainer. The printer also has a 50-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF) and a 250-page paper capacity inside.
While not the fastest printer around, the WF-7820 is more than capable with a print speed of 25 pages per minute and a speedy first-page-out, so you won’t wait long for print jobs to start. Interacting with the printer is also streamlined. It houses a large 4.3-inch color LCD touchscreen for setting up print jobs, setting printer options and doing routine maintenance. But you can also connect to the printer wirelessly via your phone and control it using Epson’s mobile app. It’s also compatible with Alexa for voice commands.
Best Printer with Cheapest Ink
Epson EcoTank ET-3760 All-in-One Supertank Printer
Budget-friendly refillable tanks are the most interesting development in printer technology of the last decade. Epson pioneered the cartridge-free system and the EcoTank ET-3760 represents the latest generation of the technology. The cost savings are significant; this printer costs about a penny per color per page, as opposed to 20 cents for a typical inkjet printer.
While the earliest versions of the EcoTank were awkwardly bolted on to the side, the EcoTank is now built directly into the front of the printer, making it easier to refill and see how much ink you have left. Not that you’ll have to worry about that too much, since the ink that comes in the box should last you for about 2 years (or 7,500 pages, whichever comes first). That’s assuming you print about 200 pages a month.
Features include wireless printing, voice-activated printing, direct printing from your smartphone, copying, scanning, automatic two-sided printing and direct SD card printing. This model is particularly convenient because of the 30-sheet ADF on top in addition to the 150-sheet main tray.
Best Photo Printer
Canon PIXMA Pro-200 Photo Printer
You can spend a small fortune on a photo printer, but if you’re not a working professional photographer, you don’t have to break the bank; there are a lot of affordable inkjets that do a wonderful job printing photos for home use. The Canon Pixma Pro-200 isn’t the least expensive option, but it’s an excellent model that creates beautiful borderless photos and can make oversized images up to 13×39 inches in size.
Unlike many popular printers, this model isn’t an all-in-one. This dedicated photo printer employs high-end Full-Photolithography Inkjet Nozzle Engineering nozzles to generate a resolution of 4,800×2,400 dpi images. The printer uses eight independent color cartridges (cyan, magenta, yellow, black, photo cyan, photo magenta, light gray, and gray) to create gorgeous prints that rival the best printers costing as much as $2,000.
You can connect to the printer via Wi-Fi, USB or Ethernet, though it conspicuously lacks a media card reader for directly accessing photos from your camera. This printer isn’t optimal if you need to do a lot of text-only printing, so it’s best for dedicated photo printing. But if that’s what you need, few printers in this price range will make prints as satisfying.
Best All-in-One Printer
Canon TR8620 All-In-One Printer
The Canon TR8620’s signature feature is simply how much it does—and how well it does it—for under $200. As an all-in-one printer, it includes a 20-sheet automatic document feeder, which is common in slightly more pricey printers, but a welcome bonus here.
There’s a large color touchscreen to control the printer operations, plus a great mobile app and integration with Apple AirPrint, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Print quality is solid thanks to a 5-ink system with two levels of black that delivers rich shadows and dark tones chock full of detail.
Best Large Format Printer
Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000
Wide-format printers tend to cost a premium, but they’re indispensable if you find yourself needing to print oversized documents or enjoy printing and hanging your own photos around the house. The Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000 accommodates truly large print jobs, able to make borderless prints up to 13×19-inches—at an eye-popping 5760×1440-pixels.
Thanks to 6 individual color cartridges (with extra red and gray), the XP-15000 creates superb prints suitable for framing around the house or using to print creatives for a small business. It includes a 50-sheet tray for specialty media like card stock and there’s also a 200-sheet tray that can be used for automatic two-sided printing.
You can control the printer from the user-friendly 2.4-inch color LCD, and it supports both wired and wireless printing (but there’s no media slot for printing directly from your camera’s SD card, unfortunately).
Best Hassle-Free Inkjet Printer
HP Envy 6055 All-in-One Printer
There’s nothing worse than sending a bunch of print jobs to your printer and having it fail to connect—or get halfway through printing and have your ink cartridges run out. The HP Envy 6055 All-in-One Printer circumvents both common printer issues. Its “self-healing” dual-band Wi-Fi is able to recover from common connectivity issues and can connect on either a 2.4 or 5 GHz band network (many printers can only connect to the slower 2.4GHz Wi-Fi band).
If you opt into HP’s Instant Ink program, the brand will send you replacement ink cartridges automatically whenever you run low for as little as $2.99 per month, based on the number of pages you print. The Envy 6055 is also a capable photo printer, able to print borderless images. It also can copy and scan, sending documents directly to Google Drive or Dropbox. In all, it’s a hassle-free printer for those who don’t want to think about their printer.
Best Monochrome Laser Printer
HP Neverstop Laser Printer 1001nw
All-in-one devices are great for people who move a lot of paper around, but what if you rarely (or never) need to scan or copy? In fact, even color ink might be overkill for some people. The HP Neverstop Laser Printer 1001NW is a monochrome laser printer for anyone with very modest printing needs. It has onboard Wi-Fi, and its 21 ppm (pages per minute) print speed is considerably better than many comparable inkjet printers.
With a footprint that’s not much larger than a sheet of 8.5×11 paper, you’ll be hard pressed to find a printer that does more in such a small space. The best part? Instead of toner cartridge refills that cost hundreds of dollars, the 1001nw uses a refillable toner tank that gives you 2,500 pages per refill (the device ships with 5,000 pages worth of toner in the tank) and costs under $30 for a 2-pack.
Best Home Office Printer
Brother MFC-J995DW INKvestmentTank Inkjet All-in-One Printer
Brother positions this as an all-in-one printer with a very low lifetime cost and extremely long ink lifetime, which is super important for a home office printer—the ink cost is easily the costliest part of the equation for almost any printer, and no one likes swapping cartridges all the time. The Brother MFC-J995DW’s innovative “INKvestment Tank” Ink System is key to the printer’s low cost and long ink life.
Essentially, each oversized cartridge transfers its contents to an internal ink storage tank that lets you print substantially more pages of uninterrupted printing. That means you won’t end up discarding cartridges that still have some ink in them, and when a cartridge is empty you’re not completely out of ink and can keep printing. This isn’t a refillable supertank-style printer, but it’s close. And you get a year’s worth of ink right in the box with the initial purchase.
The ink system is so good it’s easy to almost overlook the printing capabilities, but that would be a mistake, because this is an excellent home office printer. Print quality is excellent, supported by a 150-page paper tray, automatic two-sided full-duplex printing and a 20-sheet automatic document feeder. Everything is controllable from a friendly 2.7-inhc color touchscreen or mobile app, and you can print via wireless, USB, Ethernet or AirPrint. It’s hard to find a better overall value for your home office.
Best Color Laser Printer
HP Color LaserJet Pro M454dw
While inkjet printers have a lot of advantages—namely the potential for better image quality in photo prints—color laser printers are quieter, faster and work better for text documents. If that’s what you’re looking for, the HP Color LaserJet Pro M454dw is an excellent choice. It’s especially well equipped for low-to-mid volume offices, which probably describes your home office.
You get Ethernet, USB and Wi-Fi along with AirPrint and other common wireless connectivity solutions, and you can print directly from USB flash drives—though there’s no media card reader. Two paper trays accommodate up to 300 sheets at once, and you can expand that to 550 sheets with an optional expansion paper drawer.
Because this is a laser printer, it’s relatively fast. You can print color documents as quickly as 17 pages per minute, and print quality is quite good—though photo prints lag in quality behind a good inkjet like the Canon PIXMA Pro-200.
Best Small Printer
Canon Selphy CP1300
The Canon SELPHY CP1300 is custom built for one thing and one thing only — to deliver snapshot printouts for convenient printing from your phone and other mobile devices. With its optional battery pack and petite size, it’s portable, so you can take it with you to photo shoots. You can AirPrint directly from your phone or tablet, or plug in a USB stick or your camera’s memory card.
While the SELPHY can give you instantly dry, archival quality prints via its dye sublimation printing on Canon paper (rated for up to 100 years), you can also switch out the standard 4×6 prints with square photo label paper that lets you print instant stickers. It’s a great way to get your prints off your phone or camera and into the real world in an instant.
What should I look for in a printer?
There’s more to selecting a printer than first meets the eye. Your choice of printer depends on how much you routinely print—a few pages a month or dozens each day—as well as whether you want to print photos or two-sided documents.
Your easiest decision is probably whether to get an inkjet or laser printer. Lasers are a good choice if you print a lot, such as in a small or home office. Monochrome laser printers are fast, reliable and inexpensive. They don’t do photos very well, though—you can get a color laser, but they’re a lot pricier and more complicated. If your printing needs sometimes include color—whether for home, home office, or schoolwork—an inkjet is usually a better bet.
And that’s just for starters. Here are some other printer features to consider:
- Multifunction printers (MFP). Super popular both at home and in small offices, an MFD is a jack of all trades, able to print, copy, scan and sometimes even fax, all from the same device.
- Duplex printing. Full duplex printers can automatically print to both sides of a page. Not everyone needs this; duplex printers are nice to have at home, but essential in the office.
- Print speed. Simply put, not all printers are speed demons. Many printers report two different speeds—the time it takes for the first print to slide out of the printer and the PPM (pages per minute) once it has started printing. If you only print occasionally, print speed might not be that important, but it’s arguably the single most important feature if you print a lot.
- Connectivity. These days, most printers have wireless connectivity, so you can send files via Wi-Fi rather than plugging directly into the printer’s USB port. But some printers support printing from memory cards (such as from your digital camera) and wireless printing standards like AirPrint (for printing from your iPhone or iPad).
- Photo printing. Any printer can spit out an image, but it won’t necessarily be something you’d want to hang on the wall. Some printers are optimized for photos with higher resolution, wide format or over-sized printing, and they often produce extra colors that do a better job reproducing photo-quality prints.
Which printer brand is the best?
As you might imagine, there’s no single best printer brand; collectively, several companies offer the best printers of 2021. But depending upon what you’re looking for—affordability, high printing volume for a small office, photo and creative printing, or other criteria—you might prefer one brand over another.
Brother, Canon, Epson and HP (as well as a handful of other brands) all offer superb models. If you’re interested in office and productivity printing, HP and Brother are worthy of investigation; if you want to make high-quality photo prints or get a multi-purpose printer than can do prints as well as other kinds of documents, Canon and Epson have a number of compelling choices.
Which printers have the cheapest ink?
For all their advantages, inkjet printers can be woefully expensive to maintain, because replacement ink cartridges are pricey. So if low-cost ink is your overriding concern, consider a laser printer; laser toner is substantially less expensive than ink cartridges.
Among inkjet printers, though, consider printer models in which each color is stored in its own cartridge. Printers which use combo cartridges (in which three or more colors are housed in a single cartridge) are usually a lot more expensive to operate, because if you run out of any color you need to discard the entire cartridge along with any of its remaining ink.
Best of all: The cheapest ink ink is found in printers that use refillable tanks, sometimes called supertanks. The Epson EcoTank ET-3760, for example, is such a “supertank” printer that lets you purchase bulk quantities of ink that last longer and cost less than traditional ink cartridges.