Best small printer: our pick of the best compact printers for work, home and school

The best small printers to help with work, school (or play), from HP, Canon, Polaroid and more

best small printer: HP Tango X on side table with woman printing from mobile
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(Image credit: HP)

Printers are one of those household items that, though once so vital to everyday life, have become less common in recent times. But with the past couples of years changing the way we live, work and attend school, they’ve come into their own again.

The best compact printers, especially, are designed to fit into the modern home by being slimline, lightweight and portable. Some are even small enough to fit into your pocket, but these printers tend to be most suitable for printing photos on the go. We've included examples of both down below.

And if you're in the process of setting up a home office, prepare for the warmer weather with our guide to the best fans.

Many of us struggle to find a printer that will fit into our lives and not take up too much space, while having all of the features and specs we want. To help you choose, scroll down to see what we thought of some of the offerings from top brands.

The best small printers 2021

best small printer: Canon Selphy CP1300 2235C001

(Image credit: Canon)

1. Canon Selphy CP1300

Best small printer for simplicity

Specifications
Type: Photo
Technology: Zink
Connectivity: Wi-Fi
Size: 5.4 x 7.1 x 2.5in
Weight: 1.9lbs
Reasons to buy
+Easy to set up and use+Prints larger than other dedicated small photo printers
Reasons to avoid
-Can't be carried around like other tiny models

Larger than some of the ultra-compact photo printers on this list but smaller than a typical small desktop printer, the Canon Selphy CP1300 is the perfect middle ground.

How it performs

Portable by design, the CP1300 wouldn't look out of place in a home office, either. Printing size is 148x100 (postcard size) and smaller, so it's best for photos, but the results will be more of a standard picture size rather than the smaller print outs from the Sprocket, Polaroid and others.

There's a digital display on top that flips up to make keeping track of your pictures easier and, because the printer offers a choice of sizes, creating a collage couldn't be simpler.

Anything else?

Canon promises 'lab quality results' so, if you're someone who still takes semi-regular trips to the drug store to get their photos developed, this could save you a lot of time and money in the long-run.

best small printer: Epson Workforce WF-110

(Image credit: Workforce)

2. Epson Workforce WF-110

Best small printer without scanner

Specifications
Technology: Inkjet
Connectivity: Wi-Fi
Print resolution: 5760x1440 DPI
Size: 9.1 x 12.2 x 8.5in
Weight: 4.6lbs
Reasons to buy
+Small and lightweight +Rechargeable battery+Compatible with Alexa and Google Home
Reasons to avoid
-No photocopy/scanning capability

As long as you have no need to scan or copy documents, the Epson Workforce is the ideal printer for working from home or on the go. 

How it performs

Whether it’s a last-minute boarding pass print out from the airport lounge or you find your client’s premises has no printer, the trusty Epson Workforce is small enough to be kept by your side for instant use.

You can print wirelessly so long as there’s a Wi-Fi connection, and you can even charge the battery up via the USB car adapter in time for your next meeting. It also works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant for voice control.

Anything else?

The respectably high DPI promises great quality print outs, while the LCD screen allows for easy set up and keeping an eye on ink levels.

best small printer: Polaroid ZIP POLMP01B

(Image credit: Polaroid)

3. Polaroid ZIP

Best small photo printer

Specifications
Technology: Zink
Connectivity: Bluetooth
Size: 0.8 x 2.9 x 4.5in
Weight: 6.6oz
Reasons to buy
+ Pocket sized + Photos can be printed as stickers, too 
Reasons to avoid
-Can only be used for photos

Printing your snaps on the go has been made easy thanks to this option from Polaroid. Print photos onto photo paper whilst you're on the go with this hand-sized photo printer.

How it performs

Like with the Sprocket, the resolution of the photos printed aren’t going to be anything to write home about but, for a bit of fun while you’re out and about you can’t really go wrong. Peel the back off the paper and you can print out a batch of personalised stickers that you can plaster around your room or on your belongings.

You can edit pictures using the Polaroid app and easily print from your mobile devices via Bluetooth. The battery life is lacking compared to other small printers, so make sure you're fully charged before leaving the house!

Anything else?

As with all mini printers, the idea behind the Polaroid ZIP is to encourage us to print our photos instead of hiding them away in our photo reels. For this reason, they can't be used with PCs or laptops, and only work via Bluetooth from a mobile device.

best small printer: HP Sprocket 1AS85A#B1H

(Image credit: HP)

4. HP Sprocket

Best small photo printer runner-up

Specifications
Connectivity: Bluetooth
Technology: Zink
Size: 4.6 x 3.1 x 0.98in
Weight: 6.1oz
Reasons to buy
+Light and small enough to carry around+Connects to your social media accounts and Bluetooth+Photos can be customized
Reasons to avoid
-Can't really print anything other that photos-DPI isn't amazing-Prints out small

The sweetest little printer we ever did see, the HP Sprocket allows you to keep those Insta and Facebook snaps that have existed online only until now.

How it performs

While the DPI is nothing to shout about, the HP Sprocket isn’t marketed towards the professional photography market. For taking on day trips or family vacations, on the other hand, it’s perfect. It prints snapshots and stickers using photo paper rather than ink cartridges, which means printing is instant.

You can use the HP Sprocket app to customise your photos with emojis, borders and text, making each print out completely personal and a true representation of the moment the photo was taken. Connect the app to your Facebook account or connect the device to your phone via Bluetooth for easy, on the go print outs.

Anything else?

The Sprocket comes in four gorgeous colors - black noir (pictured), blush pink, lilac and luna pearl (white).

best small printer: HP Tango X

(Image credit: HP)

5. HP Tango X

Best small printer for smart homes

Specifications
Print resolution: 4800x1200 DPI
Technology: Inkjet
Connectivity: Wi-Fi
Size: 14.8"L x 8.1"W x 3.6"H
Weight : 6lb.
Reasons to buy
+Optional covers change the look to suit your décor+Print photos directly from social media+Works with Alexa, Google Home and Cortana
Reasons to avoid
-Might be too complicated if you're looking for something simple
What is HP Instant Ink?

best small printer: HP ENVY 6032 on desk beside accessories including ink

(Image credit: HP)

A lot of newer HP printers (including the HP Tango X) are now compatible with the HP Instant Ink service, which removes the manual task of ordering replacement ink when you start running low. HP advertises a potential 50% saving and plans starting at $0.99 a month, which is good news for those who hate the extra expense of printer ink.

In terms of print speed and resolution, the HP Tango is similar to other models, but it's lighter and offers more bells and whistles. It's also more expensive, which is why it's not our top pick overall, since you're paying for extras that are "nice-to-haves" not "need-to-haves." That said, if you want a cutting edge printer that works with the latest tech, this is it.

How it performs

This printer works with Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Cortana, and allows you to print photos directly from social media. It also works with the HP Instant Ink service, which is handy if you often find yourself running out of ink at the worst times.

Plus, if you subscribe to Instant Ink (which charges a low monthly fee based on the number of pages you print and sends you more ink when you're running low), you can print photos from social media for free. 

Anything else?

If you fancy yourself an aesthete, the HP Tango is the small printer for you. It looks sleek on its own, but if you prefer to match your home tech with your décor (who doesn't?) you can order fabric covers for this printer in indigo or gray fabric, or a cork with a wine-colored interior. When the cover is on, the printer could easily be mistaken for a large, selfie-enhancing reference book. 

best small printer: HP Envy 6055e

(Image credit: HP)

6. HP ENVY 6055e

Best small printer for home office

Specifications
Technology: Inkjet
Print resolution: 4800x1200 DPI
Connectivity: Wi-Fi
Size: 5.2 x 17 x 20.1in
Weight: 11.5lbs
Reasons to buy
+Print, scan and copy +Quick and easy setup+Can print directly from your mobile
Reasons to avoid
-Not ideal for travel

There are lots of reasons to love the HP Envy 6055. For one, despite its compact size, this Wi-Fi-enabled printer prints in color and black-and-white, scans, copies, and faxes, too. Other pluses: the sleek look and value price point. 

How it performs

As mentioned, this printer can scan, copy, and fax, so its suitable for both home use or a small business. Besides its basic functions, the Wi-Fi-enabled HP ENVY 6055e also connects to Apple AirPrint, Bluetooth, HP Smart and Mopria Print Service, can print from Dropbox or Google Drive, and has a USB 2.0 connection. 

At 17 inches long, this isn't the smallest printer on our list and wouldn't be ideal for traveling or printing on the go, but if you're looking for a compact printer for your home office or kitchen countertop, this is an excellent pick. 

best small printer: Brother HL-L2300D HLL2300D

(Image credit: Brother)

7. Brother HL-L2300D

Best wired small printer

Specifications
Technology: Laser
Print resolution: 2400x600 DPI
Connectivity: USB
Size: 14.2 x 14 x 7.2in
Weight: 15lbs
Reasons to buy
+Affordable price tag+Double-sided printing
Reasons to avoid
-Can't print via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth-Monochrome

Like a shrunken down version of the hyper-capable printers you'd find in an office, the Brother HL-L2300D allows you to do more with less bulk.

How it performs

The only wired example on our list, this offering from Brother is best suited to those who work or study from home and need a reliable, no-frills option that will get the job done. The printer connects to your PC via USB and produces good quality black and white print outs.

It also prints double sided, significantly speeding up the process if you're printing out a long document or essay. If you want to save on ink, you can activate the Toner Saver mode, which prints at a lower quality when you don't need professional results.

Polaroid ZIP being used by man cross legged on the floor

(Image credit: Polaroid)

Inkjet vs Zink vs Thermal

Throughout this guide you will have seen mention of a variety of print technologies, including Inkjet, Zink and Thermal. Each has its pros and cons, and will be suitable for some while not serving others.

Inkjet

Inkjet is the most popular kind of printing technology and is probably the one you're most familiar with. It works by putting tiny drops of ink onto the page at a rate indicated by the DPI.

Zink

Zink is short for 'Zero Ink' and refers to a type of printing that requires no ink cartridges whatsoever. Instead, all color required is embedded in the paper, making it popular for instant mobile printers. This means it's potentially better for the environment.

Thermal

Thermal printing, like Zink, uses specialized paper rather than ink cartridges to deliver its results. A thermal printer will heat the paper according to the desired image, causing the picture to show up.

What DPI should I look for in a small printer?

The DPI refers to 'drops per inch' and indicates the quality of an image produced by an Inkjet printer. In short, the higher the DPI the better your printout will look, especially if you want color photos, but a lower DPI means you'll spend less on replacement ink cartridges (which can get pricey).

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Caroline Preece
Caroline Preece

Caroline has been part of the Real Homes ecommerce team in the UK since the start of 2021, after working for the last decade as a journalist across publications in technology, entertainment and more. In her spare time she's usually obsessing about space-saving and DIY hacks for small spaces, and how to affordably make a rental feel like a home.

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