Okay, I know what you’re thinking. Printers & scanners? Yawn.
Who cares about those? They’re not thin, they don’t run apps (usually), and they’re made by companies like HP, which as a brand, is every bit as interesting as Tupperware.
Yet most people with a computer need to at least have a printer, and there have been advancements in printer technology over the past few years. You don’t need to put up with a lazy old printer that constantly jams. There are better options available.
Best Cheap InkJet Printer: HP Deskjet 3050
Looking for a basic InkJet printer that’s cheap, yet capable of printing text and photos at an adequate level of quality? You’ll probably want to pick up the HP Deskjet 3050, which can be had for as little as $35.
For that, you receive a printer that includes Wi-Fi support and a scanner. Make no mistake – this is not a particularly quick printer, nor is it capable of providing great quality. You are getting what you pay for. But if you only need a printer for occasional, simple printing tasks like a document or a family photo that will be posted on the refrigerator rather than framed, this is an inexpensive solution.
Best Cheap Laser Printer: Brother HL2270DW
Though most consumers prefer inkjets, laser has its place, particularly among home office users. They’re quicker and usually less expensive to operate, which translates to a printer ideal for churning out pages in mass quantities.
Enter the Brother HL2270DW. This $89.99 printer can churn out almost 20 pages per minute, which is much quicker than your average consumer inkjet. It also includes wireless connectivity and can print 1,000 pages on the default toner cartridge before needing replacement.
The downside? It’s monochrome. That’s not at all unusual among laser printers and it underlines what this printer is built for.
Best Overall All-In-One Printer (Print & Scan): Canon Pixma MG6120
This one was a bit of a tough call. Choices like the Epson Workforce 845 and more expensive Canon Pixma MG8120 are solid, but flooding in Thailand has cut off supply of some printers, causing rising prices and limited availability.
So we come to the Pixma MG6120. This all-in-one printer inkjet offers just about everything you could desire. It has duplex printing, a 3-inch LCD with touch input, a scan resolution of 4800×4800 dpi, and Wi-Fi connectivity with support for printing from mobile devices. Considering the price of about $115 on Amazon, this is an impressive array of features.
The only problem is one typical of inkjet printers – ink costs. If you print frequently, this will become an expensive printer quickly. But there’s no inkjet printer for which that isn’t true, and laser all-in-ones aren’t great solutions for many users because of lower image quality and higher pricing for similar features.
Best Overall Laser Printer: Dell 1355cn
It should be noted that the subtext of this recommendation is “for consumers”. There are plenty of color laser printers available, but many of them are gigantic, expensive machines really intended for a business rather than a home office.
The Dell 1355cn is recommended because it’s an exception. Starting at $199.99, and small enough to fit on a (large) desk, this laser printer provides all the benefits of its kind. It is quick to print, offers relatively low cost-per-page, and can handle large projects with ease thanks to an expanse paper tray and recommended duty cycle of up to 30,000 pages per month.
There are some downsides. The $199.99 version doesn’t offer Wi-Fi printing, and while a scanner is included, it’s nothing special (equivalent to the much less expensive Pixma MG6120). Still, these aren’t bad sacrifices to make, as the alternative is to deal with the high cost of an inkjet or throw down $400-$800 for a high-end laser printer.
Best Stand-Alone Scanner: Epson Perfection V300
Yes, independent scanners still exist. The inclusion of scanners on most modern printers has nearly driven stand-alone scanners to extinction, but there are still some available.
Of these, the best is probably the Epson Perfection V300. This quick but simple scanner offers a resolution of 4800×9600 dpi and can easily turn documents into PDF files. It also includes the ability to scan 35mm negatives, which is a cool (albeit niche) feature.
For most consumers, the scanner on an all-in-one printer will work just as well, but the Epson Perfection V300 does provide a high optical resolution for just $75, which is much less than the typical all-in-one offering similar scanner quality.
When considering these recommendations, keep in mind that printer and scanner products often exist in families. For example, if you can’t find an Epson Perfection V300 at your local store, an Epson Perfection V330 is almost identical (a few meager extras are thrown in) and will probably cost only a little extra.
If I were to just pick one product out of all of these for your average home user, it’d be the Canon Pixma MG6120. Though ink costs can be high, it offers a lot of features at a low price and has excellent print quality.
Do you agree or disagree with the selections here? Let us know in the comments.