How to choose the right printer for your home office


The necessity for a home / office printer has elevated as extra of us are working or education from home. You would be a mum or dad who wants to print out workbooks for your baby. Or it’s possible you’ll discover that it’s simpler to make notes on a enterprise report utilizing a pen or pencil relatively than a keyboard. Otherwise you’ve abruptly found {that a} authorities office is demanding that you just snail mail a kind to them. Otherwise you’re uninterested in trekking to your native office provide retailer for printing out occasional varieties.

No matter the cause, if you end up in want of a printer, it’s not tough to discover one. Printers haven’t modified loads over the previous few years; they’ve simply turn into extra environment friendly and cheaper. You’ll nonetheless be selecting between laser and inkjet printers, shade and black-ink-only printers, and print-only and multifunction gadgets. Due to all these selections to make, it’s a good suggestion to determine what you need earlier than you click on “purchase” at your favourite procuring website.

On this article, I gained’t be telling you which of them particular printer to purchase. However I’ll undergo a few of the selections you’re going to be confronted with and a few of the options you might have considered trying to ensure you’re getting, together with inkjet versus laser, multifunction versus single operate, and the way to resolve what to purchase and the place to purchase it.

So let’s begin.

Inkjet versus laser printers

For those who haven’t purchased a printer currently — or should you haven’t wanted a printer till now — you might have considered trying a fast refresher on the distinction between inkjet and laser printers. What follows is an unlimited simplification, but it surely gives you a normal concept of how they work.


Inkjet printers spray tiny droplets of liquid ink onto a web page. There are a number of varieties of inkjet supply programs, however most client programs use separate ink cartridges, every fitted with a printhead that separates the ink into the practically microscopic droplets. (Skilled-level inkjets will often have separate printheads that may be changed on their very own.) Colours are created by combining totally different coloured inks.

The variety of ink cartridges {that a} shade inkjet printer makes use of varies. The least costly printers often use solely two cartridges — one with black ink and one which incorporates cyan, magenta, and yellow ink. Most lower- to medium-priced inkjet printers provide 4 separate cartridges — cyan, magenta, yellow, and black ink. Extra upscale printers may have a special black cartridge for textual content; printers utilized by photographers or companies may have a wider collection of coloured inks.

However even the least costly inkjets can find yourself operating into critical cash. The printer itself could not value greater than $50 or $100, however a single set of cartridges can value practically as a lot. And since most shade inkjets is not going to run in any respect if any one among the cartridges is out of ink (for instance, you possibly can’t simply print in black if the cyan cartridge runs out), you’ll want to substitute any spent cartridges. (We’ll deal extra with ink prices later.)

There are just a few inkjet printers on the market generally known as supertank printers, which have refillable tanks that supply a decrease value per web page than the conventional ink cartridges. They’re bought by just a few producers corresponding to Brother, Canon, and Epson, and might be a consideration should you plan to do a number of shade printing.


These gadgets use lasers to create static electrical energy on a rolling drum inside the printer. The static electrical energy attracts toner (ink in the type of powder), which is melted onto the paper.

Whereas toner cartridges initially value greater than ink cartridges, in addition they final far longer than liquid ink; in consequence, your value per web page will probably be much less. Laser printers additionally have a tendency to initially value greater than inkjet printers — however they will get monetary savings over the long run.

Laser printers have a number of different benefits over inkjet printers — except you want shade. They’re sooner than inkjets (particularly low-end inkjets, which may be very sluggish), and the high quality of their textual content printing is extra exact (though present inkjets are definitely exact sufficient to swimsuit most paperwork).

Coloration laser printers are additionally extra obtainable than they used to be. Nonetheless, they’re pricier, and except they’re professional-level printers, the shade is not going to be nearly as good as an equivalently priced shade inkjet.

HP Laserjet M110we laser printer

One in every of the smallest laser printers in its class, the HP LaserJet M110we is ideal for printing black-and-white varieties and paperwork. 

So which ought to I purchase?

There are a number of different components to think about earlier than buying a brand new printer. Listed below are some questions to ask your self whereas deciding what to purchase.

What am I utilizing it for?

A method to resolve whether or not to purchase a laser or an inkjet printer is to look into what you need to do with it. If shade isn’t necessary to you, then it’s a no brainer. A laser printer will probably be extra cost-efficient and sooner. However if you need to print out your children’ pc paintings in shade or print the occasional {photograph}, then you definitely’re in all probability in the market for an inkjet.

Multifunction printers

For those who see your self working from home for the foreseeable future — and even should you don’t — you might have considered trying to think about a multifunction (also referred to as an all-in-one or AIO) printer. These gadgets don’t simply print from your pc, however they permit you to scan current paperwork and both copy them or save them as recordsdata. (Some additionally allow you to fax a scanned doc, however since faxing has turn into a lot much less vital, this function is shortly disappearing.) They’re very helpful for holding the paperwork round your home to a minimal since it can save you PDFs of most of your papers (particularly the ones you’ve had sitting round for years) after which eliminate the precise laborious copies.

(Sure, you should utilize your cellphone’s digital camera to scan and add paperwork, and should you solely often want to scan a doc, that might be sufficient for you. Nonetheless, the high quality of a phone-scanned doc doesn’t come up to the high quality of a very good scanner.)

Most consumer-level multifunctions will allow you to copy something up to an 8.5 x 11-inch paper (popularly generally known as letter-sized), however you can too purchase printers that can allow you to deal with an 8.5 x 14-inch (authorized measurement) paper. For those who see your self doing a number of copying or scanning, you must look for a multifunction with an automated doc feeder (often referred to as an ADF) that permits you to transfer a variety of pages by way of the system shortly.

Enter and output trays

Most present printers work by pulling paper in from the entrance, operating it round the drum or curler, after which popping it out to the output tray. Nonetheless, should you’re printing on heavier inventory, you don’t need to bend the paper; in that case, you might have considered trying to look for a printer that has an enter tray coming from the again of the printer, in order that the paper is pushed by way of on a straight line.

Some printers additionally enable you to have a couple of paper tray in entrance, letting you choose totally different coloured paper, for instance, or having one tray maintain letter-sized paper and the different legal-sized.

You additionally need to know what number of sheets of paper your enter and output trays are able to holding. For those who plan to, say, print out a 200-page manuscript, you don’t need an output tray that may solely deal with 50 pages, or you may discover 150 of your pages strewn over your flooring.


The flexibility to duplex — to print on either side of a single web page — is extra widespread than it used to be, however not all lower-priced printers embrace this function. It’s very helpful, particularly should you do a number of printing and need to save on the value of paper. After all, most printers allow you to print on either side of paper by manually re-feeding the paper into the printer after the first aspect has been printed — however that may be an actual ache in the neck.

Value per web page

Indubitably, the largest expense for a printer isn’t the printer itself and even the paper — it’s the ink. There’s a approach to determine how a lot a printer will value you over the long run: calculate the value per web page by dividing the worth of an ink cartridge by the cartridge’s web page yield, or the variety of pages you’re anticipated to get out of every cartridge.

You’ll be able to often discover the web page yield amongst the stats printed by the printer’s producer. For instance, take two multifunction printers from the similar producer, one a shade inkjet and one a black-only laser printer.

The most important expense for a printer isn’t the printer itself and even the paper — it’s the ink

The yield of the HP Envy Photo 6055e All-in-One, which sells for about $160, is about 240 pages for a high-yield black ink cartridge and about 200 pages for its high-yield tri-color ink cartridge. The high-yield black ink cartridge costs about $24 and the tri-color about $25. In order that’s about 10 cents a web page for the black ink and about 12 cents for the shade.

A equally priced black-and-white laser printer, the $170 HP LaserJet M209dwe, cites about 1,100 pages for a standard toner cartridge, at a value of about $48. That comes out to about 4 cents a web page.

So assuming you pump out about 1,100 text-only pages in a 12 months (excluding the value of the paper), which means you’ll have paid a complete of $48 extra for the laser printer and $110 extra for the inkjet, a distinction of $62. (And that doesn’t think about the proven fact that, utilizing a shade inkjet, you possibly can’t print black-only except all the ink cartridges are useable. In different phrases, if your children burn up your shade cartridges, you gained’t have the opportunity to print except you substitute them — even should you’re simply printing in black.)

Another factor to throw into the combine: a black ink tank for the $400 HP Smart Tank 7001 Wireless All-In-One Inkjet Printer, which makes use of storage tanks as an alternative of ink cartridges, prices $17 for a yield of up to 6,000 pages, properly underneath a penny a web page. (As a result of some of these printers — there are a number of — have a tendency to use a differing variety of tanks for shade printing, it’s tough to determine an equal comparability for shade printing.)

There are, in fact, a number of “ifs” right here. For instance, if you’re lower-cost printers, some main printer producers don’t publish the web page yield. As well as, even when the web page yield is accessible, you’ve to understand that it’s being supplied by the producer — so the variety of pages you get per cartridge is often optimistic. Nonetheless, this may give you a good concept of what you’re going through.

Wi-fi connectivity

While you’re buying a printer, make sure that it’s able to wi-fi connectivity through Bluetooth, NFC, and / or Wi-Fi — and ensure it’s suitable with no matter pc or cell gadget you propose to use with it.

For those who’ve obtained a Mac pc, an iPad, and / or an iPhone, make sure that your printer is suitable with Apple AirPrint.

For those who’re utilizing a Chromebook, make sure that your printer is Chrome OS-compatible by checking the producer website. (For instance, Epson has a web page that lists all its Chrome OS-compatible printers.)

Till not too long ago, one other different was to use Google’s Cloud Print service, which allow you to simply print from computer systems and Android telephones. Sadly, with its regular disregard for well-loved options, Google shut down its Cloud Print service as of December thirty first, 2020. The corporate’s rather unsatisfactory advice (“we suggest the respective platform’s native-printing infrastructure or working with a printing associate”) will in all probability not be a lot assist for these with older printers that trusted Cloud Print. You’ll be able to test to see if your printer’s producer has a cell app that can enable printing from gadgets wirelessly in lieu of Cloud Print.

Lastly, some printers have NFC capabilities. This allows you to join one to your cellphone by merely touching the cellphone to the NFC label on the printer.

Contact and non-touch LCDs

Most printers at the moment, even the most elementary, include LCDs that enable you to simply join to your wi-fi community and tweak the printer settings — for instance, if you need to at all times print double-sided, or to pull paper from a particular paper cassette.

Except you’re actually into saving cash, you’ll discover it simpler to cope with a touchscreen. Non-touchscreens often imply having to hit a mix of buttons to navigate to the function you need to entry, deciding on the function, navigating to the setting, deciding on it, after which getting again to the foremost menu. Touchscreens make that course of loads easier.

Photograph printers

Except you propose to replenish a number of albums with bodily pictures, a photograph printer might be not vital. Some photograph printers provide options like the capability to take away red-eye in pictures of individuals, however this similar performance is usually obtainable in a variety of photograph apps (and might be simpler to cope with in software program).

There are exceptions. For instance, there are small, moveable printers corresponding to the Canon SELPHY QX10 photo printer that allow you to instantly print small (2.7 x 2.7-inch) photos. These are enjoyable for household gatherings and events. (Though bear in mind that you’ll have to purchase particular photograph paper and ink for this one.) And should you’re knowledgeable or would-be skilled photographer, you might have considered trying to spend money on a high-level photograph printer. However in any other case, most midlevel shade printers will — should you use good photograph paper — do fairly an enough job. For those who’re intending on printing a number of pictures, you’ll spend much less and get higher outcomes from a photograph printing service corresponding to Shutterfly.

The place ought to I purchase it?

Printers can be found at virtually any on-line or in-store venues that promote laptops and different pc tools, corresponding to Amazon, Best Buy, or B&H. You may as well often buy a printer straight from the producer — for instance, HP, Canon, and Epson all promote from their web sites.

As with every tech gadget, it’s at all times a good suggestion to take a look at the product in particular person before you purchase — it’s possible you’ll resolve, for instance, that the cheap printer you noticed on-line feels too low cost if you look at it on the shelf. However for the most half, should you’ve checked all the specs on-line and browse just a few evaluations, you’re fairly secure in ordering your printer remotely.

Replace Could thirteenth, 2021, 10:25AM ET: This text was initially printed on June ninth, 2020. Costs have been up to date, some printers have been named to substitute these which might be now not obtainable, and sections on NFC-capable printers, LCDs, and the place to purchase have been added.

Replace January twelfth, 2022, 9AM ET: Costs have been up to date and a few printers have changed these which might be now not obtainable.