Most of us have some experience with printing already, whether that’s pulling your hair out at error messages in the library or scratching your head at apparently empty cartridges on a past-it printer in your home office. But don’t let past misfortunes put you off, because today’s home printers are easier to use and with more functions than ever, and some are even budget-friendly, to boot. But if you don’t know where to start, allow us to help with our list of the best home printers in the shops at the moment.
Firstly, when considering your budget, don’t just think about the one-off cost of the unit, but the ongoing cost of the brand’s compatible cartridges, and how much ink, according to previous users, it uses in one go. Even if you’ve resigned yourself to going for the cheapest recommended unit, there are some handy features to look out for that might be worth any potential extra outlay for convenience in the long run.
If you use Apple products in your home office, look out for a printer with AirPrint, which allows you to print from Mac, iPhone, iPad and iPod touch without having to search for and install any extra software. If you’re a keen photographer, a printer with card reader can be a real time-saver, cutting out the middleman of uploading your images to a computer before sending to print.
With laser printers’ high running costs and ability to cope with demanding levels of use, they’re more suited to an office environment, although they may be worth considering if you work from home and frequently need to print long documents. We’ve focused on inkjet printers in this article, as they’re both cheaper and more versatile, dealing more ably with photographs and other images than their laser equivalents. The one distinction you may want to make is between regular single-function models and all-in-one printers, which scan and photocopy as well as printing.
The Epson EcoTank is our cheapest printer to run, and as that seems to be the holy grail in the world of home printing, it’s a trait that’s earned it our top spot. It’s incredibly economical, not just for the fact that its ink system is among the cheapest out there at 0.14p a page, but also that it comes with two years’ worth of ink included. The main bugbear among reviewers seems to be that it’s a little slow compared to some other models, so that’s worth bearing in mind if you have the tendency to print tickets five minutes before leaving the house. However, if you’re not in a constant rush and you’re in search of an all-in-one wireless printer that doesn’t cost the earth to run, this is a solid choice.
Like the EcoTank, the Canon Pixma is a wireless 3-in-1 with a printer, copier and scanner that are, according to favourable reviews, easy to set up and use. But while it’s not quite as cheap as our first choice to run long-term, it’s less than half the price for the unit in the first instance, making it a fine choice for less frequent use. Its AirPrint capabilities make it simple to print from Macs, iPhones and more, and its compact design saves on desk space too, so if you have a small home office and a setup worthy of the Apple store, it looks to be a good all-round choice.
With its inbuilt SD card reader slot, USB connectivity and AirPrint capabilities, the Epson Expression Premium is possibly the most versatile printer on our list. This is great news for budding photographers, who often tend to err on the side of the iMac rather than Windows PCs, as it cuts tasks in half and saves time on two fronts: uploading images to laptops, and searching for and installing drivers. And, in even better news for shutterbugs, this printer’s use of Claria Photo HD Inks means that, at least in theory, the photos you print on it will be great quality and last up to a whopping 300 years in an album!
Not everyone needs photocopying and scanning capabilities at home, and if you’re in the market for a no-fuss, no-frills printer that simply works as it should, the Canon Pixma iP7250 comes highly recommended. The unit and a full set of inks comes at a very competitive price, making for a covetable combo of inexpensive and quick to set up, and its slim, low-profile design makes it less likely to look out of place or bulky on smaller desks. Plus, with AirPrint included, you can print from smartphones and tablets as well as over USB, so combined, we think these traits make the Canon Pixma our best printer for students.
The Epson WorkForce is a real workhorse, so it’s worth considering if you work from home or have a creative hobby that means you frequently have to print in large volume and large formats. Unlike many home printers, it can handle A3 print jobs - and from a single tray, no less - and has both a wireless and wired connection for maximum compatibility in all types of homes. Out of necessity, it’s quite enormous, but by all accounts worth clearing the extra desk space for if you have some big jobs on the horizon, as reviewers have commented on the helpful email-to-printer facility and easy setup.
This sleek-looking printer comes at a surprisingly low price for its design and capabilities, making it a functional and stylish choice for the home office. Users have reported that it seems to use quite a lot of ink per job, so it’s certainly not the cheapest to run — if that’s what you’re after, consider our first pick, the Epson EcoTank — but reportedly the print quality has many competitors beaten. Especially good for photographers, its ability to print borderless photos is an uncommon treat, particularly at this price point, and the HP Instant Ink scheme means you won’t be left without supplies. For less frequent use, this looks to be a good option.
In the Deskjet 2130 All-in-One Printer, HP have aimed to make a printer that “simply works - right out of the box”, and according to reviewers, they’ve done admirably. For a really bargainous price, you get a printer that also scans and copies, with simple, streamlined controls and a quick set-up, so if you liked the straightforward nature of the Canon Pixma iP7250 but are nervous about foregoing copying and scanning facilities, this is a good alternative. Weirdly, a few buyers noticed that the printer comes without the necessary wire to connect it to a laptop or desktop computer, so it’s worth factoring in that extra cost and faff, however minor.