Help to prevent the spread of coronavirus. For the latest information on COVID-19, go to the CDC's website.

Printer

How to choose a printer

There are more printers available, at a wider range of prices than ever before. Here’s what you should consider when trying to choose the right one for you

Inkjet or laser?

Laser printers want to convince us that they’re as home-friendly as their inkjet counterparts, while some inkjets are as fast as laser printer. So which of these very different animals is right for you? Laser printer toner cartridges last several thousand pages but cost a fortune. Color models tend to slowly use up the color toners even if you only print black, then refuse to print at all when any of them is empty. This makes color lasers awkward if you only print occasionally, and even for higher volumes they don’t necessarily work out cheaper to run than inkjet to run. They do offer crisper text and solid color graphics, but aren’t great for photos.

For most of us an inkjet is the best choice, or a budget mono laser for black only.

Multi-function

It’s more common than ever to find printers with a scanner stuck on top.

There are differences in quality and speed between scanners, so always read our reviews. For everyday occasional photocopying and digitizing paper documents, any ‘multi-function printer’ (MFP) should be fine. A few models still support faxing.

Paper handling

Most printers can accommodate 250 A4 sheets in their main tray, but others only fit 100 (sometimes in a vertical hopper on top, which isn’t as neat). Many MFPs now have an automatic document feeder (ADF, see image above right) for the scanner, typically taking 25 sheets, which is great for multi-page copies. It’s rarer to find a ‘straight-through’ rear paper feed, which avoids the need for thick card to wrap around rollers, so most printers are limited to about 300gsm (grams per square meter) paper. A few A4 printers, notably made by Brother, can print single sheets of A3, but full A3 and larger printers are much pricier.

Laser and inkjet printers have things in common, but are very different animals

Getting connected

A printer can connect to a PC via a USB cable; to a PC or router via an Ethernet cable (meaning you can share it with other devices on your network); or to PCs and mobile devices via built-in Wi-Fi.

Most Wi-Fi models support AirPrint (Apple’s technology that allows printing from iOS apps) and Mopria (for compatible Android apps). A few rely on the printer manufacturer’s own app, which will also let you scan pages from an MFP to your phone or tablet.

The Xerox Phaser 6022V color laser printer, but a full set of refills is well over.

Until all printers fill up from bottles like Epson’s EcoTank, cartridges will remain pricey

Ink and toner costs Our reviews always work out the cost per page for you based on current prices for official ink or toner cartridges. Roughly, expect around 2.5-4p for black text or 7-10p for color. These figures are useful for comparison, but the industry standard definition of a ‘page’ assumes there’s not much on it, so in fact a fullpage photo could use dozens of pages’ worth of ink or toner. Printers also waste ink/toner in maintenance tasks.

Larger ‘XL’ cartridges save money.

Tank systems such as Epson’s EcoTank can work out even cheaper, as well as creating less waste. With HP’s Instant Ink option you pay a monthly fee and ink arrives in the post whenever you’re running low, but to be sure of saving money you’ll need a clear idea of how many pages you’re likely to print.

Unofficial ‘compatible’ cartridges often work fine, and can save money.

But printer manufacturers hate you using them, so expect your printer to harangue you about using an unapproved cartridge. Heavy users of color laser printers, for example, can easily save hundreds of pounds by finding a reliable brand of compatible toner.

MULTIFUNCTION CENTRE BUYER’S CHECKLIST

WHAT YOU NEED TO KEEP AN EYE ON WHEN SHOPPING FOR A MULTIFUNCTION PRINTER.

ADF

An automatic document feed, which typically sits on the top lid of the printer, saves a lot of time for scanning and printing documents that are more than one page. Even better if it supports two-sided scanning and printing.

FAX

There are certain industries where faxes are required as a legality for transmitting certain types of information electronically.

As such, several MFCs designed for work use continue to offer this function.

CONNECTION OPTIONS

Wi-Fi is pretty much standard on a modern MFC, but it’s also worth checking whether mobile device printing is supported for iOS and Android. Other things to look for are support for connecting USB drives, an SD card slot and Ethernet.

USB CABLE IN THE BOX

If you don’t have a wireless network to connect the printer to, you may need to revert to an old-school wired connection, in which case, it’s worth checking whether a USB cable Is Included. Alternatively, some printers support Wireless Direct, which allows fora wireless connection without a Wi-Fi network.

INK CARTRIDGES

Check whether each colour (black, cyan, magenta and yellow) has its own separate ink cartridge, otherwise you’ll have to buy a whole new pack every time a single colour runs out.

SPEED

The speed specs listed for printers typically use the ‘fast and dirty’ draft quality, which is why they’re typically a lot faster than what you can achieve day-to-day using the normal print quality.

SIZE|

MFCs can balloon in size due to all of the functions they combine, so you’ll need to factor this size in when purchasing – will you have enough space to house it in your home office or workspace?

CLOUD PRINTING

If you use one of the main cloud services for file storage such as Google Drive, Dropbox or OneDrive, it’s worth checking whether the MFC can print and/or scan directly to these services.

Multi-function inkjet printers

Inkjet printers

Top 15 printers

How to choose the perfect printer

Pragmatic printers for the smartphone age

Best price 1 Epson XP 960 review – all-in-one photo printer for paper sizes up to A3

Epson XP 960 review – all-in-one photo printer for paper sizes up to A3

Epson XP 960 - Vincent Oliver tests an all-in-one photo printer for paper sizes up to A3 Hard drives and other removable media are likely to fail at some point, so printing photographs is probably the safest way of ensuring they don’t become a ...
10
Editor choice 2 Epson WorkForce Pro WF 5620DWF Review: A quick, capable all-in-one inkjet

Epson WorkForce Pro WF 5620DWF Review: A quick, capable all-in-one inkjet

Epson WorkForce Pro WF 5620DWF Review - This inkjet multifunction printer introduced similar laser rivalling features to the OfficeJet Pro 8720 when it went on sale a couple of years ago, and now it has fallen to about the same price. It’s a more ...
0
3 HP OfficeJet Pro 8720 Review: A fast inkjet for a home office

HP OfficeJet Pro 8720 Review: A fast inkjet for a home office

HP OfficeJet Pro 8720 Review - This fast inkjet multifunction printer (MFP) is designed to compete with laser printers, and it starts with their size: it’s enormous, although its curves make it less imposing. The built-in Wi-Fi supports phone and ...
8
Editor choice 4 HP PageWide Pro 477dw Review: With impressive new Pagewide inkjet technology

HP PageWide Pro 477dw Review: With impressive new Pagewide inkjet technology

HP PageWide Pro 477dw - HP takes inkjet printing and drags it screaming into this decade Using inkjet technology for multi-function printers isn’t very cost effective, even if people like the quality of the output. Up till now ...
10
5 Ricoh SP C250DN Review – The cheapest color laser printer

Ricoh SP C250DN Review – The cheapest color laser printer

Ricoh SP C250DN - The cheapest color laser printer Color laser printers, on the whole, don’t really float our boat. They’re fine for plonking in the middle of an open-plan office so people can print their PowerPoint presentations over the network ...
0
Editor choice 6 OKI MB492DN Review: Diamond in The Rough

OKI MB492DN Review: Diamond in The Rough

OKI is not a printer brand name that is very familiar to the average consumer. But in the SOHO market, it is a brand that is familiar and trusted. The MB492dn is their latest monochrome multifunction printer which is just entering the Malaysian ...
0
7 HP LaserJet Pro M501n Review

HP LaserJet Pro M501n Review

An interesting laser printer, with some great new features The LaserJet Pro M501n is part of HP’s newest range of M5-series printers for businesses, workgroups and small offices. It has a small footprint, measuring just 418 x 376 x 289mm, and it ...
0
8 Epson Surecolor SC-P800 Review: WORK AND PLEASURE

Epson Surecolor SC-P800 Review: WORK AND PLEASURE

If the A3 format SC-P600 isn't really big enough for your needs then step up to Epson's A2+ SureColor printer. Trevern Dawes tries it out using both cut sheets and papers rolls. Read our Epson Surecolor SC-P800 Review. When a colleague cooler, ...
0
9 Epson ET-2550 Review

Epson ET-2550 Review

Inky fingers did not stop our reviewer from testing a new multifunction printer The Epson ET-2550 is a multi-function printer from the company’s Eco Tank range. Rather than using ink cartridges containing 4ml or 5ml of ink, Eco Tank products use ...
0
10 UP Mini 3D Printer Review – Excellent performance and great value for money

UP Mini 3D Printer Review – Excellent performance and great value for money

UP Mini 3D Printer - Proof that 3D printing is alive and well 3D printing never really caught on quite as well as most of us expected it to. By now, we thought 3D printers would be as popular as regular 2D, paper printers. But they're not. There ...
0
11 Epson ET 2500 Review – The beginning of the end of the inkjet rip-off

Epson ET 2500 Review – The beginning of the end of the inkjet rip-off

Epson ET 2500 - The beginning of the end of the inkjet rip-off? Thanks to advances in silicon-chip production, computer technology gets cheaper all the time. But printers are mostly boxes of cogs, so the only way to make them cheaper is to cheat. ...
0
12 Brother MFC-L2700DN Review

Brother MFC-L2700DN Review

Focusing on the office, Mr Fereday checks out a new all-in-one Designed for office use, the MFC-L2700DN is an All-in-One device. Based on a mono laser printer, this product combines Fax, Scan and Copy facilities with an ADF (Automatic ...
0
TOP NEW Review
Logo
Enable registration in settings - general