Picking the best printer can sound simple enough, but there's a lot to sort through. Do you need a feature-filled all-in-one printer for a home office, a sleek portable unit that can slip into a laptop bag? Maybe you just want to print off a few snapshots from your last family gathering. Whether you want to stick to basic document printing or get something that handles copies, scans and faxes too, we're here to help you find the right printer.
Our printer reviews cover more than just the standard print/scan/copy combination units that are so popular on store shelves. In addition to all-in-one inkjets, we’ve also reviewed laser printers, photo printers and even portable models, all with the aim of finding the best printer for you.
Our reviews test every printer on the basics, like print quality and speed, but we also take the long view, weighing factors like the cost of printing or the volume the printer is built to handle from month to month.
What are the best printers?
When it comes to our top pick overall, the Brother INKvestment MFC-J995DW is our favorite, offering solid printing, scanning and copying. The high print quality and speedy two-sided printing got our attention, but the affordable purchase price and low ink costs really sweeten the deal, saving you money throughout the life of the printer.
Laser printers also take top marks, like the Brother MFC-L2750DW, our favorite laser all-in-one. Despite its lack of color printing, the combination of printing, scanning, copying and fax capability in one speedy printer is the best we've seen in the category.
The Canon Pixma TR8620 takes a top spot as our favorite home office printer, thanks to it's blend of great print quality, productivity minded features like an automatic document feeder and scan/copy/fax capability, not to mention excellent photo printing thanks to a five-ink tank system.
If you want to print out reams of photos without spending a ton on ink, check out the HP Envy 7855. Looking for a photo printer you can take on the road? The Canon Pixma TR150 combines portability with excellent photo print quality.
Whatever your printing needs, you can find our recommendations below.
The best printers you can buy now
There's much more to the cost of a printer than just the purchase price: Ink costs can eat away the savings you expected from your affordable device. If you want one of the best all-in-one inkjet printers with the most affordable ink, we recommend the Brother INKvestment MFC-J995DW. The printer features extra-large ink cartridges, and comes with an estimated years' supply of ink in the box, which adds up to the lowest per-page ink costs we've seen.
On top of that, the Brother INKvestment MFC-J995DW offers solid printing, scanning and copying. Print speeds beat the category average and two-sided printing is among the fastest we've seen. And it did all of this while delivering high print quality across the board. That same zippy speed and above-average quality was found in scans and copies, making it a great choice for anyone, even if you aren't buying it for the affordable ink.
Read our full Brother INKvestment MFC-J995DW review.
The Brother MFC-L2750DW XL multifunction laser printer is packed with features such as a fast automatic document feeder, fax capability, and a second paper tray. It’s also fast at both duplex printing and copying, but doesn’t sacrifice speed for quality; documents look sharp and clear every time. It's easily one of the best all-in-one printers overall, and our favorite laser printer – so long as you don't need to print in color.
The MFC-L2750DW XL turned in great document quality, and the fastest speeds to date for text and mixed text/graphics files. The printer even made two-sided prints faster than some models can handle one-sided documents. Using its high-capacity toner cartridge, the MFC-L2750DW XL offers a cost per page of just 2.7 cents, the lowest we've seen in this category. That's a tough deal to beat.
Read our full Brother MFC-L2750DW review.
The Canon Pixma TR8620 offers plenty of office features, from scanning and faxing to a 20-page automatic document feeder (ADF), a duplexer for two-sided printing, and two paper trays for keeping two types of paper at the ready. A big 4.3-inch color touchscreen makes it easy to control, and the printer supports smart home integration with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
It's also a great printer, with faster-than-average print speeds and high print quality overall. Text and color graphics all look great, but we noted that glossy photos printed impressively fast, and the use of a 5-ink cartridge system with two types of black ink resulted in photos with high-quality accuracy: Natural-looking colors, sharp details and smooth transitions. Really, our only big complaint with the Pixma TR8620 is the above average cost of ink, due partially to the expense of the extra ink cartridge.
Read our full Canon Pixma TR8620 review.
The Epson EcoTank Pro ET-5850 combines impressively low ink costs with an abundance of business-friendly features to take its place as the best small business inkjet printer we've reviewed. The EcoTank design uses refillable ink tanks and comes with enough spare ink bottles to print thousands of pages. A small business printer rated to print more than 3,000 pages per month, it's more than capable of handling whatever your team might throw at it. The printer boasts scan, copy and fax capability, dual 250-page paper cassettes, a 50-sheet automatic document feeder and a large, easy-to-use 4.3-inch touchscreen for convenient operations.
In timed printer tests, the Epson ET-5850 delivered some of the fastest printing we've seen, and produced crisp, clear text that nearly rivals laser printer quality. That same quick, high-quality performance was also seen in copying and scanning, making it the printer of choice for offices that need a full featured multifunction printer. But the real draw is the ink savings, extremely low per-page costs of 0.4 cents for text pages, and 1.6 cents per color page. The upfront price may be high, but the combination of quality, features and super-low operating expenses make this one of the best investments you can make for your office.
Read our full Epson EcoTank Pro ET-5850 review.
The HP OfficeJet 250 isn't just the best portable printer out there, it's also a full featured all-in-one printer that's small enough to pack along on a trip. With copying and scanning capability built in – a rare offer in portable models – the HP surprised us by complementing that functionality with superb print quality and category-leading speeds.
Whether printing basic text documents, color photos or scanning material to save for later, the quality was superb. And somehow, despite the printer's small size, it manages to boast a 2.5-inch color touch screen, a 10-page automatic document feeder and a total travel weight of just 6.7 pounds with a battery attached. We wish it were a little less expensive, or had slightly better battery life, but these are small complaints given how much you can do with the HP OfficeJet 250.
The Canon ImageClass MF743Cdw is an all-in-one color laser printer that offers great performance and plenty of features, like a large touch screen and duplex printing. But with a monthly page volume of up to 4,000 pages, it's meant for the office rather than the home. Business users will love the built in 50-sheet automatic document feeder, 550-sheet paper cassette, and work-friendly features like two-sided scanning and low printing costs.
The performance is also top notch, with sharp text, clear graphics and faster-than-average printing of mixed text and graphics. Fast scan and copy speeds are a plus, and the color laser printer has one of the easiest setup options available. That's enough for us to declare the Canon ImageClass MF743Cdw one of the best all-in-one printers and our favorite laser printer for small business users.
Read our full Canon ImageClass MF743Cdw Color Laser Printer review.
The Brother HL-L2390DW is a monochrome all-in-one printer that offers one thing rarely seen in a laser printer: a low price of entry. And while the cost may catch the eye of home and small-office users, its performance and feature set are nothing to scoff at, either. Prints are sharp and faster than average; this printer handles scans and copies quickly, as well. And while the printer is monochrome, the full-color scanner delivers true-to-life color capture and fast scanning.
But it's not just affordable at purchase; operating costs are low, too, with a cost per page of 3.7 cents using standard-capacity toner cartridges and just 2.7 cents with high-capacity toner. If you want the benefits of a laser printer without the usual expense, the Brother HL-L2390DW is our best budget pick for you.
Read our full Brother HL-L2390DW review.
The Canon Pixma TR150 is a portable inkjet printer that's small enough to carry in a backpack, but big enough to print everything from 4x6 photos to 8.5 x 11 documents. With a two-cartridge system, its ink is affordable and lends itself well to a variety of printing uses. But where the Canon really stands out is photo printing.
The Pixma TR150 made high-quality photos faster than other competing portable printers, and delivered excellent color and detail. It can also handle larger photo prints, but unlike some of our photo printing favorites, there is no copy or scan capability. You do get a solidly built portable printer with optional battery and even support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice controls, but we love it for the great photos and low ink costs it offers.
Read our full Canon Pixma TR150 review.
The HP Envy 7855 lives up to its jealousy-tinged name as a stylish all-in-one inkjet printer that offers solid print performance across the board. But in addition to printing documents, scanning and copying on the flatbed scanner, and even faxing, the Envy 7855 is also a very good photo printer, handling everything from small, wallet-sized photos to borderless 8 x 10s.
And it's that photo print quality that stood out to us, with photo samples offering accurate, well-saturated colors and clear detail. The Envy wasn't the fastest around for photo printing, but quality was good, with a reasonable price per photo. And if you use HP's Instant Ink subscription ink service, you can get photo-printing costs down to mere pennies for 8 x 10 photos — but only if you're printing a lot of them.
Read our full HP Envy 7855 review.
How to choose the best printer for you
Finding the right printer starts with defining what you need that printer to do. There's a drastic difference between a large multifunction printer that will copy, scan and fax and a pocket-sized photo printer that's perfect for printing snapshots on the go. The best place to start is to narrow down what functions you want, and what aspects of printing are most important to you.
Inkjet or Laser: Inkjet printers are generally better at producing the full range of colors, making them more suited for printing graphics and photos. Laser printers, on the other hand, can quickly produce professional looking text documents often at a lower cost per page.
All-in-One printers offer more than just printing, with built in scanners that can scan and copy everything from forms to photos. Some (but not all) will also have fax capability.
Photo printing is a separate concern, requiring support for printing on glossy paper, handling different photo paper sizes and sometimes requiring additional (and potentially expensive) inks to deliver better print quality.
Portable printing is all about mobility. Compact designs are paired with batteries and sometimes exotic print technologies to let you print from a hotel room, in your car, or even out at the beach.
In addition to the type of printer, you'll also want to pay attention to specific aspects of performance and operating expenses.
Print speed refers to how quickly the printer will complete a page in a document, measured in pages per minute. If you need to print frequently, or in high volumes, faster print speeds are a must have.
Print quality comes down to how well the printer lays ink on the page, and whether it produces sharp details and legible letterforms. Most inkjet printers deliver "good enough" levels of quality, but if you want crisp looking text every time, you'll probably want a laser printer. And photo printing varies widely between general use printers, so check out the recommended models on our best photo printers list.
Ink costs are an ongoing concern for any printer, since ink refills are part of the operating expenses for any printer. Ink can get very expensive, but some new models are designed to reduce both the expense and the hassle of finding the right ink cartridges. And this isn't purely an issue for inkjet printers, as laser printers use toner cartridges. Look for a lower cost-per-page and check out our reviews for a detailed discussion of how print costs might make one printer better than another.
Once you find the best printer in your desired category, you're ready to buy.
How we test the best printers
Every printer we review is extensively tested to give us a clear idea of how well it performs, both in print capability, but also general ease of use and expense over time. Our testing procedures include timed print tests to determine print speeds, with a set of standardized documents that have a mix of text and graphics and color photos.
Every print is examined and compared, with errors and print problems noted in the review and overall quality measured against the other printers on the market.
We also test the scanning and copying functions (when they are offered), timing how quickly it captures a page and comparing the results to the original images to determine how well it captures color and detail.
To measure the cost of owning and operating a printer, we look at the current street price of ink refills and the estimated number of pages that each cartridge can produce, and calculate the cost for printing a single page.
These specific tests are adapted as needed to handle all sorts of printers, from monochrome laser printers and portable snapshot printers to full-featured all-in-one inkjets. Wherever possible, we make sure that the tests are done in such a way that they can not only be compared within a specific category, but also across all printer types generally.
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