It may be 2017, but the paperless future has not arrived, and you still need a printer to handle everything from printing out documents and photos to scanning and copying things. To help you sort through the multitude of multifunction printers, we spent more than 150 hours on in-depth testing to identify the top inkjet and laser printers you can buy.
Our favorite overall printer is now the Canon Pixma TS6020 ($69), which offers fast print speeds and high-quality output for both text and graphics. If you do a lot of photo printing, you should also consider the Epson Expression XP-640 ($90), which produced high-quality prints and graphics quickly and at a low cost. If you'd prefer a laser printer, we like Canon's ImageClass MF217W, which recorded some of the fastest print, copy and scan times among the models we've reviewed. (Prices can vary on the MF217W depending on where it's on stock, but it's available for $173 at Amazon as of this writing.)
For a printer that won't break the bank, Epson's WorkForce WF-2760 inkjet ($90) packs in features like an automatic document feeder and duplexing, while also turning in fast print and copy times. If you print out a lot of text, you can't go wrong with Brother's MFC-JFC985DW ($180) and its low cost per page.
Besides considering your specific print needs when you shop for a printer, you should also look at who makes the device. We recently compared the top printer makers to see which ones consistently stood out for print quality and speed.
We're also keeping an eye on the latest all-in-one devices in our New & Notables section, which highlights recently released printers you need to know about before you buy.
Inkjet Versus Laser
What kind of printer you should buy — inkjet or laser — depends on how you plan to use your printer. If your primary focus is printing photos, you'll want an inkjet. The photo print quality of an inkjet is typically superior to what you'd get with a laser printer and you'll be able to print on various photo media, including matte papers, in addition to the typical glossy. If your printing needs are more business-oriented, a laser model will likely suit you better, though there are business-oriented inkjets, as well. Laser printers' razor-sharp text printing can't be beat, nor can their speed.
Laser all-in-ones are also built for high volume, with many capable of printing up to 10,000 pages a month. If your needs are much more modest, an inkjet specified for up to 1,000 pages a month could be a good candidate. Compare ink and toner costs to ensure your initial investment doesn't turn into a long-term budget-buster.
Some all-in-ones — both laser and inkjet — offer high-yield cartridges that lower printing costs over the standard cartridges. Many laser all-in-ones only print in black-and-white (monochrome), which helps keep printing costs down. If that's simply too boring for you, consider a color laser all-in-one. Some color lasers even print on glossy paper, which is great for business brochures, but the quality is not on a par with inkjet photo prints.
Don't forget to consider other features you might otherwise overlook. For example, if you plan to do a lot of copying or scanning of large documents, you'll want an automatic document feeder (ADF) for loading multiple pages: It will make your life a lot easier. A duplexer (which enables two-sided printing) will save paper. And a large input tray will cut down your trips to the printer to refill it.
Do You Need a Printer for School?
The world may be going paperless, but for many college students a printer is still a must-have. Classes that accept electronic assignment submissions may reduce the need to print, but it just takes one document-heavy class to make printing a necessity, and on-campus resources like printing kiosks and computer labs may not be enough to cover all your document printing needs. If you live far from campus, or anticipate needing to print outside of regular library hours, an inexpensive printer will be a necessity.
See our guide to printing in college for all of our advice for students, including the best printers to buy for your apartment or dorm room.
How We Tested
We put each all-in-one printer through a battery of home-grown tests to determine its performance and output quality. To test print speeds, we timed each device when printing a text document, a five-page mixed text/graphics project, and a color photo. We examined the output quality of both landscape and portrait images printed on each printer, and we recorded scan and copy times. To measure cost of ownership, we looked at the current street price of ink and the estimated number of pages that each cartridge can produce.
Best All-in-One Printers
New & Notable
|The Best 3D Printers|
|The Best Photo Book Printing|
|The Best Photo Calendar Printing|
|The Best Photo Card Printing|