The popularity of printers has waned in the last decade as more and more people are opting to archive their documents, photos, and files in Google Drive, iCloud, and other cloud storage services. However, the last couple of years have forced us to rethink the way we learn, work, and study, and the humble printer has enjoyed a renaissance. If you’re in need of one of the best home printers, any of these will do a fantastic job.
Best home printers at a glance:
Why you should buy this: Epson’s EcoTank ET-2850 delivers the cost efficiency of a laser printer with the pristine quality of an inkjet for rich photo printing.
Who’s it for: Homes that need a color inkjet but are worried about printing costs.
Why we picked the Epson EcoTank ET-2850:
Epson’s EcoTank printers require a higher upfront investment cost, but it more than makes up for it with more affordable ink refills. Unlike traditional ink cartridges, you can buy large bottles of replacement ink and refill the ink wells that are in the printer. The printer ships with four ink bottles — a black ink bottle, as well as colors for cyan, yellow, and magenta — with each ink bottle providing the equivalent of 90 individual cartridges. With four bottles, you’re saving 360 plastic cartridges from having to go to the landfill. This not only lightens your wallet but is also good for the environment with less waste. The EcoTank ET-2850 comes with ultra-high-yield replacement ink bottles that Epson claims will last most typical households for up to two years!
Epson’s ink technology also produces some stunning photos as well when printed on Epson photo paper.
This multifunction printer comes with duplex printing, a flatbed scanner on top for document and photo archiving needs, as well as a copy function, making it ideal for smaller home offices that don’t need an automatic document feeder. The EcoTank ET-2850 isn’t the fastest printer on the market, but with speeds up to 10 pages per minute, this will be more than sufficient for the occasional contract or form that you need to print out. A small 1.44-inch color touchscreen helps you manage the printer’s settings up top, and wireless printing is supported so you can print from a smartphone or tablet for post-PC households.
Why you should buy this: Canon’s Pixma iP8720 delivers rich color photo prints in a number of sizes and formats.
Who’s it for: Aspiring photographers and crafters.
Why we picked the Canon Pixma iP8720:
Made for the budding photographer in your house, Canon’s Pixma iP8720 is a printer that can do it all, from tax forms and documents to producing gorgeous color photo prints. This printer supports a number of paper sizes from 4 x 6 photos to 8.5 x 11 letter-sized documents to framed portraits up to 13 x 19 inches. The larger size support means you can really blow up that spectacular picture you just captured on your smartphone, making it an ideal solution for crafting, scrapbooking, and photo printing.
Canon promises a print resolution of 9600 x 2400 dpi for stunning, detailed, and vivid color photos that’s made possible by the company’s Full-photolithography Inkjet Nozzle Engineering, or FINE, print technology. Equipped with Wi-Fi, this printer can print content from your smartphone through the companion app or directly from the cloud without the need to connect a printer, making it easy to convert your pixels to fine works of art.
Why you should buy this: HP’s Neverstop Laser 1001nw sacrifices color in favor of fast print speeds and economical print costs for document printing.
Who’s it for: Researchers and professionals working from home who mostly print text-based documents and PDFs.
Why we picked the HP Neverstop Laser 1001nw:
If your home relies on printing copies of academic journals, tax forms, contracts, and text-based PDFs, having a monochrome laser printer can dramatically save you on printing costs in the long run. HP’s Neverstop Laser 1001nw is a terrific single-function laser printer that can print up to 5,000 pages with the bundled toner, making its per-page cost about 3 cents. The affordable print cost of the Neverstop Laser 1001nw makes it ideal for home offices, households with children, or even college students looking for a budget-friendly printer.
The Neverstop is also a speedy laser printer as well, with print speeds up to 21 pages per minute, with the first page ready in as little as nine seconds. The tradeoff, compared to inkjet printers, is that the Neverstop isn’t designed for photo or color printing. But don’t let the Neverstop’s black-and-white filled world fool you — this printer still comes with plenty of modern amenities. It has an LED display, support for mobile printing, compatibility with HP’s excellent Smart printing app for smartphones, and built-in Wi-Fi support.
Why you should buy this: The HP Envy Inspire 7900e combines HP’s best inkjet printing technology with great home office features.
Who’s it for: Families with diverse printing needs and homes sensitive to printer noise.
Why we picked the HP Envy Inspire 7900e:
Not only can this multifunction all-in-one print, scan, make copies, and even fax — with the accompanying smartphone app and optional subscription digital faxing service — it melds the best HP inkjet printing technologies across the company’s various brands. Inspired more by the design of HP’s OfficeJet Pro series than by previous Envy printers, the HP Envy Inspire 7900e is a zippy printer capable of churning out up to 15 pages a minute. Automatic duplexing, a flatbed scanner and automatic document feeder up top, and mobile printing support round out some of the basic features of this printer.
For households with more diverse printing projects, the HP Envy Inspire 7900e also supports cartridges that use the company’s new ink formulation. This translates to stunning photo outputs, and it makes the HP Envy Inspire 7900e a versatile household staple that’s equally adept at printing out tax forms with sharp text as it is printing vivid vacation photos.
For those who need to cram in and share a common home office, the HP Envy Inspire 7900e has a Quiet Mode that reduces noise output by 40% so you won’t distract a family member working in the same room. The only downside is that the Envy Inspire 7900e isn’t technically available yet — it’s coming later this year. In the meantime, if you need a suitable alternative, be sure to check out the company’s OfficeJet Pro series.
Traditionally, laser printers require higher upfront costs, but the toner will last you longer, making it more affordable in the long run. Inkjets, on the other hand, have been relatively more affordable upfront, but if you do print a lot, be prepared to stock up on replacement ink. Modern inkjets with ink tanks, like Epson’s EcoTank on our list, are leveling the playing field with ultra-high-yield refillable ink tanks that lower the cost per page with affordable and sustainable ink refills rather than cartridge replacements.
Aside from economics, laser printers are more adept at printing fine text, and the details will be apparent when you’re printing documents with finer fonts. Laser printers are also available in color, which is great for home businesses that need to print flyers, business cards, brochures, or other marketing materials. In addition to being able to handle text-based documents, inkjet printers are also more suited for color and photo printing, and so they’re likely the more versatile printer for home use.
No, most inkjets and multi-function inkjet printers are designed for document and photo printing needs. Some companies, like Epson, even claim that photos printed on their printers — especially when paired with the company’s own photo paper — will last for at least 100 years and won’t fade when stored in archival environments.
Given that most homes and dorm rooms will have limited space, you will do well in choosing a versatile printer that can handle all your copying, scanning, archiving, and printing needs. However, if you have more robust printing needs, be sure to check out our picks for some of the best all-in-one printers on the market. Business users will want to check out our top choices for the best small business printers.
Many manufacturers support high-yield or ultra-high-yield printer cartridges or toners, which will cost a little bit more upfront than standard cartridge sizes. However, you’ll be able to get more ink out of larger-capacity toners and cartridges, so you’ll save money in the long run.
To calculate your print cost, take the total cost of your cartridges or toner and then divide by the yield, or number of printed pages that the manufacturer expects the toner to last. A $35 ink cartridge, for example, that’s good for 300 pages would cost just under 12 cents per page to print.
Some manufacturers, like HP, even offer managed printing subscription services. For example, HP will ship you new print cartridges right before you run out based on data collected from your Internet-connected printer.
Generally, if you’re printing flyers, documents, or PDFs, any standard printer or copier paper will do. If you’re working on creative projects, you can find heavier paper and papers of different sizes. There are specialty papers for brochures, business cards, greeting cards, flyers, photos, and other print projects.
Some printer manufacturers even offer crafting templates through smartphone apps or as downloadables on your desktop or laptop. Some of these projects and templates include calendars, stationary, and even printables for coloring projects.