Tuesday, December 6, 2022
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Best printer for 2021 – CNET

Even if you’re working by yourself in your pajamas, there are still times when you need a hard copy of a document. Having a home office printer is still incredibly handy despite the near ubiquity of digital displays — from phones to TVs to laptops. And if you’re still working remotely, a speedy, dependable printer can be invaluable. However, shopping for a printer isn’t easy, and it can be downright confusing unless you’re intimately familiar with printer specs. This is doubly true due to the sheer volume of printers on the market. The labyrinth of arcane model names and numbers, technical specs and variables can make printers particularly challenging to compare and contrast. 

And if variety weren’t enough to deal with, printer prices are all over the place. This is a highly dynamic market, where prices can change from day to day. During our printer testing period, for example, we saw the price of the HP OfficeJet Pro 9025 selling for as low as $100 and as high as $250. The takeaway: Unless you have an urgent printer need, it’s worthwhile to identify one or two printer models that would work for you, keep an eye out for printer deals and discounts — and jump on a good price when you see it. Our list of the best printer options below is designed to help you do just that.

The good news: Every printer profiled below can handle printing basics. They can handle mobile printing and wireless printing from a phone or any PC, Mac or Chromebook. They can print over a cabled connection and through 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 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, 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). So even if you’re getting a great printer deal, just be sure to do some research into the ink.

We’ve tested and reviewed the top models for home and small office use from the four major vendors: 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. Check out our favorites below, which we’ll update periodically.


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If you need to produce reams of professional-caliber documents — market research reports, business proposals or brochures — you’ll want a laser printer. These higher-end devices deliver near-professional quality that’s noticeably superior to what you’ll get from an inkjet. And they’re less expensive than you might expect, making them a great home printer option. 

The Canon LBP622Cdw is a bit of a one-trick pony, but it handles its one trick well. There’s no scanning or copying capabilities, but this color laser printer prints vivid text and color graphics with high levels of contrast and range, on both white and colored printer paper. And it’s not exorbitantly expensive to run, thanks to its high-capacity toner cartridge — a rarity among laser printer options in this price range. On average, black and white documents cost about 3 cents a page and color docs cost 3.8 cents a page. When it comes to print speed, it’s about average.

The LBP622Cdw features a single-sheet feeder that can take in envelopes and photos while leaving your regular 250-sheet paper tray undisturbed. And you can stack up to 10 envelopes in the main paper tray, which is more than twice as many as most other laser printer options. 

And though this printer’s five-line LCD isn’t a touchscreen, it’s easy to navigate and provides helpful information including the name of the job and person who sent it. There’s also a USB port that allows you to connect and print if the network goes down.

Amazon

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 coronavirus era drags on — this is your machine. The HP LaserJet Pro M15w is 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 lbs it makes for a great portable printer for light printing jobs. it connects via Wi-Fi to nearly any device, which means you can print 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 under $120.

Amazon

As far as first-world problems go, waiting for a printer to spit out your document ranks high. The HP OfficeJet Pro 9025 addresses this issue by processing documents and photo prints two to three times faster than its inkjet printer competitors. The printer supports duplex printing including two sided scanning of two sided originals.

It took the OfficeJet Pro 9025 just 8 minutes to print out a 30-page report, with graphics and photos, on plain paper at the “best” quality setting — less than half as long as a print speed as it took other comparably priced inkjet printers. It scanned photos with a printing speed of just 8 seconds compared to 13 to 14 seconds for other printers. And it printed an 8.5×11-inch photo in just about 2 minutes, while the competition consistently took closer to 8 minutes. 

This inkjet printer doesn’t sacrifice speed for quality — at least as far as text is concerned. But photos are another story. Though most color tones looked OK, with suitably high contrast, reds were too brash. And there’s no rear paper feeder, so you’ll have to swap out your plain paper for specialty papers. 

HP offers customers an HP instant ink subscription service for an ink cost that it says is 50% cheaper than buying ink a la carte. There are four monthly plans — 50, 100, 300 or 700 pages — which ostensibly ensure that you have new cartridges and enough ink before your old ones run out.

Sarah Tew/CNET

If you don’t care about color graphics or photos, 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 for $100), 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, and a 1,200-page replacement costs $44 from Amazon. 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.

Amazon

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 8.5×11 photo faster than any comparably-priced printer we tested. And this home office printer option costs less than a host of competitors.

Printers, compared

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 Amazon See it at Amazon See it at Amazon See it at Amazon
Ink type Color inkjet Color laser Monochrome laser Color inkjet Color inkjet
Scan Yes No Yes No Yes
Fax Yes No No No No
Copy Yes No Yes No Yes
Google Cloud Print Yes Yes Yes Yes No
AirPrint Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
NFC print Yes No Yes No No
Warranty coverage 2 years 1 year 1 year 1 year 1 year

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