The need to have a printer in your home has ebbed and flowed over the last several years. In the times before the pandemic, printers were starting to wane in popularity. Cloud printing and storing your photos online became the norm and the only reason to have a printer was for the occasional passport scan or ticket printout. When coronavirus hit and a lot of office workers were sent home to work, having a hard copy of documents became important again. Because of this, printers are having something of a renaissance right now, so it is important to know which is the right one for you.
Every printer profiled below can manage basic printing needs. For example, they can handle mobile printing and wireless printing from a phone or any PC, Mac or Chromebook. They can also print over a cabled connection and via wireless printer connectivity. (Note that some — but not all — printers support Apple’s AirPrint and Google’s Cloud Print protocols, which are usually less onerous than the printer vendors’ proprietary systems.)
But what you intend to print will determine which model is right for you. If you’re mostly working with shopping lists, concert tickets or travel itineraries, print quality is arguably less important than print speed and price. If you’re using your printer for professional materials or photo printing, then color accuracy, printing quality and the inclusion of features like borderless printing will be primary considerations when you’re looking for the right printer.
Another factor to consider is the cost of ink and making sure that you have enough ink to print everything you need (there’s nothing more frustrating than having a printer but no ink in the ink tank for printing). Inkjet printers use liquid ink to print, whereas laser printers use toner cartridges containing powder. So even if you’re getting a great printer deal, just be sure to do some research into how you’ll refill the ink. Several new printers are also on offer complete with ink subscriptions so that may be something to consider as well.
We’ve tested and reviewed the top models for home and small office use from the four major printer manufacturers: Brother, Canon, Epson and HP. Whether you print for business or personal use, at home or in an office, we’ve got the best printer for you. While several models on this list are no longer available or are wildly overpriced because of limited stock, we are currently in the process of testing a new round of printers and will update this list with our latest picks shortly. Check back soon for our most up-to-date choices on the best printers for this year.
Even if you almost never need a printer, when you need a printer, you really need one. This HP DeskJet, which is a cheap portable printer, tiny and unassuming, will be there for you. This HP printer has no flatbed scanner or copier bed, so it folds up into a compact 16 by 7 by 5.5 inches — about the size of a large loaf of bread. There’s a foldable rear tray for paper, a top-mounted scanner and an output tray, but it’s so small you can easily store it on a desktop or shelf. You don’t have to worry about running out of ink while printing if you sign up for an HP instant ink subscription account when setting up your printer. A new HP instant ink cartridge is automatically sent to you when ink levels get low. You can cancel the subscription at any time.
Quality isn’t the point. It’s not a workhorse. Print quality isn’t extraordinary. But HP DeskJet 3755 is cheap, unobtrusive and ready for basic jobs when you need it.
If space is tight but you need to print shipping labels, shopping lists or homework assignments a few times a month — an increasing likelihood as the pandemic era drags on — this is your machine. The HP LaserJet Pro M15w is a compact printer that’s a great fit for practical, nonfussy tasks and its tiny footprint, measuring about 8 inches deep and 14 inches wide, fits perfectly on a bookshelf. And at just 8.4 pounds, it makes for a great portable printer for light printing jobs. It’s a wireless printer, so it connects via Wi-Fi to nearly any device, meaning you can even print right from your phone. If the students in your family can live without a scanner — after all, phone cameras can handle most scanning jobs now — and color output, the LaserJet Pro M15w is a great choice for a decent price.
If you don’t care about color printing, there’s a very good reason to buy a black-and-white printer: There’s only one toner or ink cartridge to refill, which is going to keep your cost per page down.
When Dan Ackerman reviewed this Brother printer in 2018, he found it noteworthy for its combination of low price (at least when it’s on sale), painless setup and operation, and nearly universal customer approval. It’s a monochrome laser printer, so you can’t print color images or photos, but the Brother HL-L2395DW will masterfully handle any black-and-white laser printing job. (Its sibling, the HL-3170CDW, adds color capabilities, but has no scanner or touchscreen.)
This monochrome printer is easy to connect to a Wi-Fi network, and it supports Google Cloud Print and network printing whether you’re using a PC or Mac. And it’s quick: Printing 10 pages from a MacBook took 27 seconds. A seven-page webpage from the Edge browser on a Windows laptop took 36 seconds. Copying a single sheet of paper took 9 seconds.
Brother says the “starter” black toner that comes with the system should be good for 700 printed pages. Like a number of other models we tested, this printer supports Amazon Dash Auto Replenishment, which means it’ll automatically order new toner for you when it’s running low, unless you turn off the feature in your Amazon settings.
Read our Brother HL-L2395DW review.
Update: While the Workforce Pro WF-3730 currently has limited availability at a moderately inflated cost, the WF-3820 and the WF-4820 are suitable replacements and are readily available at a significantly lower price.
The Epson Workforce Pro WF-3730 is full-featured enough to satisfy the demands of a home office, though it’s not as simple to use as others. It’s also a big printer, equipped with two 250-sheet paper trays. That means you can load it up with a ton of paper or dedicate one tray to envelopes or labels.
For the price, this multifunction printer delivers solid print quality. You get bright, surprisingly colorful and subtle photos on plain paper and photo paper — and especially on Epson’s own stock. The Workforce is also quick: It printed an 8.5-by-11 photo faster than any comparably priced printer we tested. And this home office printer option costs less than a host of competitors.
The below comparison is based on our last round of testing and reflects what was available. As we test new printers this will be updated accordingly.
|Best home printer||Best color document printer||Best black-and-white printer||Best photo printer||Best cheap printer|
|Product name||Brother MFC-J895DW||Canon Color imageClass LBP622Cdw||Brother HL-L2395DW||Canon Pixma iP8720||HP DeskJet 3755|
|Buying info||See it at Amazon||See it at Staples||See it at Best Buy||See it at Amazon||See it at Amazon|
|Ink type||Color inkjet||Color laser||Monochrome laser||Color inkjet||Color inkjet|
|Google Cloud Print||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Warranty coverage||2 years||1 year||1 year||1 year||1 year|