6 of the best colour printers

Print photographs, diagrams, flyers, and whatever else your heart desires with a home colour printer from our shortlist of the best

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The name of the game when printer shopping can, more often than not, amount to going for a suspiciously low-priced model that you’re sure will be just fine for the odd boarding pass or Google Maps printout. Finding the best colour printer for your needs, however, can be an entirely different beast, and if you’ll be printing lots of images, especially photographs, it’s sensible to spend a little time considering what’s out there. 

The first thing is not to be immediately put off by seemingly high prices, because if you’re planning to get a lot of use out of your printer, the cost per use is the real number to keep an eye on. Our first pick, the Epson EcoTank ET-3600, comes pre-loaded with ink and prides itself on working out cheaper over time, so it pays to think in the long term if you have a busy home office.

The second is whether you want an inkjet or laser printer. All our picks bar one, the Color LaserJet Pro by HP, are inkjet, as they’re better at printing good-quality photographs, and ink costs run a little cheaper than toner. Still, our HP pick is fast, gives you a lot of prints for your money, and turns out sharp text and diagrams, showing that laser’s not necessarily to be dismissed for simpler print jobs.

The best colour printer

1. Epson EcoTank ET-3600

It might be built like a tank, but it’s surprisingly economical

Specifications
Best for: Cost per use
Touchscreen: Yes
Wireless: Yes
AirPrint: No
Reasons to buy
+ Inexpensive to run + Get going straight away 

This Epson printer comes pre-packed with two years’ worth of ink, which not only means you can get up and running straight away, but that your cost per use is immediately more favourable than with many other printers out there, with Epson figuring it’s around 14p per page. It might seem quite pricey on first glance, but the 11,000-odd pages you can expect to get from it out of the box more than makes up for it, and taking that, plus perfectly good performance as an all-in-one wireless printer into account, it’s our best printer for home use. 

HP Color LaserJet Pro

2. HP Color LaserJet Pro M252dw

For PCs and Macs, this laser printer makes for compatibility as well as crisp printing

Specifications
Best for: Crisp quality
Touchscreen: Yes
Wireless: Yes
AirPrint: Yes
Reasons to buy
+ Duplex print mode + AirPrint and Google Cloud Print 

This smart-looking and compact printer doesn’t take up much space on the desk, but you know what they say about good things and small packages – with AirPrint and Google Cloud Print there’s finally some good news for Android as well as Apple users looking to print easily and wirelessly, and it’s fully compatible with both PC and Mac. As well as playing nicely with others, the HP Colour LaserJet Pro’s happy owners say the crispness and quality of the print is superb, and the scope for duplex printing is pretty helpful too. 

Canon Pixma

3. Canon Pixma TS6050

Top-notch image quality for a low price

Specifications
Best for: Quality all-in-one
Touchscreen: Yes
Wireless: Yes
AirPrint: Yes
Reasons to buy
+ Affordable three-in-one + Wireless printing over AirPrint 

With its 3-in-1 printer, scanner and copier capabilities and wireless connectivity, the Canon Pixma is directly comparable to our first Epson pick for versatility. While it’s not as cheap to run over a long period of time, if you’re not going to work it too hard but still want the full range of functionality, its much lower initial price may give it the edge. Mac and iPhone users will be especially pleased, as it packs in AirPrint functionality, too, making it simple to print off those photos without any drivers or cables. 

Epson Expression Premium

4. Epson Expression Premium XP-830

Plug in (or don’t) any way you like with this versatile printer for photographers

Specifications
Best for: Photographers
Touchscreen: Yes
Wireless: Yes
AirPrint: Yes
Reasons to buy
+ SD card, USB and wireless input + Uses high-quality Claria Photo inks 

The Epson Expression Premium is our best colour printer for photographers thanks to its range of input methods and use of Claria Photo HD Inks, whose photo printing quality and longevity are, as yet, unrivalled. The inclusion of AirPrint is a must for OS and iOS users too (correct us if we’re wrong, but that’s pretty much all shutterbugs, right?) as it allows you to send images to be printed straight from your device, no faffing with USB cables or downloading drivers. Plus, with an inbuilt SD card reader, you can go straight from shoot to scrapbook. 

Canon Maxify

5. Canon Maxify MB2750

Print, scan, copy and fax with this all-in-one office genius

Specifications
Best for: Home workers
Touchscreen: Yes
Wireless: Yes
AirPrint: Yes
Reasons to buy
+ Four-in-one with fax + Large capacity 

If you run a business from home, the likelihood is that you need fast, reliable equipment – and, despite our best efforts at making email the dominant form of communication, probably a fax machine too. This Canon printer allows you to send documents quickly, easily and confidentially with its built-in fax, as well as the usual: printing, scanning and photocopying. Out of necessity, it is on the large side, but for its sheer range of uses – plus AirPrint and Google Cloud Print, and a stonking capacity of 500 sheets – it’s still our best for home workers if you have the space.  

Epson WorkForce

6. Epson WorkForce WF-7110DTW Printer

This big friendly giant makes short work of large and complex print jobs

Specifications
Best for: Big print jobs
Touchscreen: No
Wireless: Yes
AirPrint: Yes
Reasons to buy
+ Prints A3 and A4 + Email-to-printer mode  

Finding a good colour printer can be comparatively simple if you aren’t anticipating a huge throughput or any weird and wonderful requirements, but designers and other creatives who work from home need something that can stand up to any task, and that looks to be the Epson WorkForce. It prints A3 and A4 from a single tray, a small but welcome feature that doesn’t sacrifice a streamlined design for the sake of being capable, and offers wired and wireless connectivity as well as an endlessly helpful email-to-printer function.

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