With so many technologies and capabilities available, choosing a printer isn’t easy. And don’t assume you’ll find the perfect printer anytime soon. No matter the cost, printers get paper jams. They run out of ink/toner. Network connectivity can be challenging. That’s just the nature of printers. I don’t know why, but it’s important to understand and accept.
Now that I’ve lowered your over all expectations, let me give you the good news: There are some great affordable printers out there, depending of course on exactly what you need a printer to do. Here are my top three picks for your consideration:
Best Inexpensive Black and White Laser Printer. The Brother HL-L2380DW is a great choice for people who need to print, scan, or copy term papers, tax forms, concert tickets and other black and white documents from home, home office or dorm room. This printer handles automatic two-sided printing; it’s pretty speedy too, at 32 pages per minute, with a cost-per-page of about 2.3 cents which includes wear and tear on the drum.
This Brother model is quite easy to set up and will be a reliable addition to your home’s computer network. Expect this printer to work well with any current laptop, desktop, smartphone or tablet including Chromebooks.
The paper tray holds 250 sheets of paper and the printer itself has a draft or “save more” setting that allows you to conserve toner when the document you print does not require professional quality. But when that is needed, this printer outputs sharp, professional black and white pages at up to 2400 x 600 dpi resolution. About $129.
Best Inexpensive All-in-One Color Inkjet Printer. If you need a printer to do it all—wireless printing, scanning, copying and faxing—you want a high-quality all-in-one color printer. My pick for the best inexpensive is HP OfficeJet 8720 All-in-One Printer because it’s a workhouse that is not frustrating to use or difficult to setup. Print from anywhere using your smartphone or tablet. This beauty prints and scans two-sided documents in black and white or color. This printer has tons of additional capabilities including Wi-Fi direct (no network required), borderless printing and a legal-size scan bed—to name just a few.
Per-page print costs for the HP OfficeJet 8720 are lower than those of most competing inkjet printers, at 1.6 cent per page for black and white and 8.1 cents for color. This is an excellent, affordable, beautifully designed, all-around piece of equipment for home or home office. About $190.
Best Inexpensive Photo Inkjet Printer. If you’re into photography and want to print gallery-quality photos up to 13-inches wide, the term “inexpensive” becomes a relative term. A quality photo printer can cost thousands of dollars. Given that information, the Epson SureColor P600 is my pick for best inexpensive photo printer. This machine uses pigment inks that produce fade-resistant photographs, unlike those you would get from an online service that will fade quickly. This printer is fabulous to work with too, with its touchscreen control panel and built-in Wi-Fi connectivity plus wired Ethernet and USB ports. Maintenance is quite simple. This inkjet photo printer delivers professional quality color prints and black-and-white photographs too, that are as close to traditional darkroom photos as you will find. About $770.