Table of contents

Printers are an essential tool for both home and office use. Whether you need to print documents, photos, or labels, having a reliable and efficient printer is crucial. With so many options available in the market, finding the best printer for your needs can be a daunting task. That's why we have done the research for you. In this article, we will highlight the top printers of 2021, give you some tips on how to choose the right one, and cover important factors to consider before making a purchase. So, if you're in the market for a new printer, keep reading to find the perfect one for you.

The Ultimate Home Printer

When it comes to finding the best home printer, look no further than the Epson EcoTank Photo ET-8500. After extensive testing, this printer has proven to be the top choice for most users. It's a more affordable alternative to the Epson EcoTank Photo ET-8550, offering the same high-quality performance without the hefty price tag. The standout feature of the ET-8500 is its ability to produce sharp, vibrant documents and stunning, detailed photos. It's truly a versatile printer that delivers exceptional results.

One of the key advantages of the Epson EcoTank series is its supertank design. Instead of relying on cartridges, this model uses refillable ink tanks that last for thousands of prints. Not only does this save you money, but it also eliminates the hassle of constantly replacing cartridges. With the ET-8500, you can print to your heart's content without worrying about high maintenance costs.

Connectivity is another highlight of this printer. You can easily connect and print wirelessly via Wi-Fi, USB, or Ethernet. It even has built-in SD card support, allowing you to print directly from your memory card. Plus, the flatbed scanner on the ET-8500 is highly impressive. It captures even the smallest details, making it perfect for digitizing old photos. However, note that it lacks an automatic document feeder, so scanning multiple pages will require manual operation.

It's important to keep in mind that the ET-8500 is primarily designed for photo printing. If your printing needs primarily involve documents, there are more affordable options available. But for those seeking professional-quality photos and versatile printing capabilities, the Epson EcoTank Photo ET-8500 is the ultimate choice.

Looking for alternative options? Check out our reviews of these notable mentions:

  • Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-300: If you prioritize photo printing quality above all else, the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-300 is a great alternative. It offers superior color accuracy compared to the Epson, though it prints slower and has higher maintenance costs. Just note that it's a print-only unit, so you'll need a separate scanner for scanning purposes.
  • Epson EcoTank Pro ET-5850: For those who mainly print documents, the Epson EcoTank Pro ET-5850 is an excellent alternative. It delivers higher-quality documents and faster print speeds of up to 25 pages per minute. Additionally, it features an automatic feeder for convenient duplex scanning. However, its scan quality and photo printing capabilities may not be as impressive as those of the ET-8500.
  • HP OfficeJet Pro 9025e: If duplex scanning is your priority, consider the HP OfficeJet Pro 9025e. It offers this feature, but keep in mind that it produces lower-quality scans and has lower ink yields. The printer comes with six months of free ink through HP's ink replenishment subscription service, but using third-party cartridges is restricted if you choose to subscribe.
  • Epson EcoTank ET-2400: The Epson EcoTank ET-2400 is a more budget-friendly alternative to the Epson EcoTank ET-3850. While it prints higher-quality photos than the ET-3850, it lacks features like an automatic feeder, Apple AirPrint and Mopria Print Service support, and automatic duplex printing. Print speeds are also slower, and the ink yield is lower.
  • Canon PIXMA TR8620a: When it comes to photo printing, the Canon PIXMA TR8620a is a viable alternative to the Brother MFC-J4335DW. It produces more colorful and less grainy photos. However, keep in mind that its ink cartridges don't last as long, resulting in higher maintenance costs over time.

To learn more about these alternatives, check out our in-depth reviews.

Stay Updated

Here are the recent updates on our recommendations:

  • Jun 22, 2023: Added the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-300 and the Epson EcoTank Pro ET-5850 as Notable Mentions. No changes in recommendations.
  • May 24, 2023: Verified availability of all recommended printers. No changes in recommendations.
  • Apr 28, 2023: Ensured that our main picks still align with user needs.
  • Mar 31, 2023: Made minor text changes and replaced the Epson EcoTank Photo ET-8550 with the more affordable Epson EcoTank Photo ET-8500 variant.
  • Mar 03, 2023: Verified accuracy of picks; no changes in recommendations.

For more details, click here.

Factors to Consider

Choosing the right printer depends on your specific needs. Consider the following factors:

  • Intended Use: Determine what you plan to print most often. If you mainly print shopping lists or tickets, print speed and price may be more important than print quality. However, for professional materials or photo printing, prioritize color accuracy, print quality, and features like borderless printing.
  • Ink vs. Laser: Inkjet printers excel in producing vibrant colors and are suitable for graphics and photo printing. Laser printers, on the other hand, are more cost-effective for text documents.
  • All-in-One Functionality: If you need more than just printing, consider all-in-one printers with built-in scanners and, in some cases, fax capability.
  • Photo Printing: For photo printing, look for printers that support glossy paper and offer different photo paper sizes. Some may require additional ink cartridges for better print quality.
  • Portability: If you need a printer on the go, opt for portable printers with compact designs and battery options.
  • Print Speed: Faster print speeds are essential for frequent or high-volume printing needs.
  • Print Quality: Look for printers that produce sharp details and legible text. Laser printers tend to offer crisper text, while inkjet printers deliver good overall quality.
  • Ink Costs: Consider ongoing ink costs, as ink refills contribute to long-term expenses. Look for printers with lower cost-per-page ratios and explore ink subscription services for potential savings.

By evaluating these factors, you'll be able to find the perfect printer that meets your specific requirements.

Our Testing Method

At Rtings, we take our testing seriously to provide accurate and reliable recommendations. Our team of writers and editors spends hours analyzing and reviewing products, services, and apps to ensure they meet your needs. We conduct uniform checks on every printer we review, evaluating key factors such as print quality, speed, and cost. Additionally, we compare each printer's features to others in the same price range to determine its value. By thoroughly testing and analyzing printers, we can confidently recommend the best options for you.

Find out more about our testing process here.

For any additional questions or inquiries, feel free to reach out to us. We're here to help you make informed decisions and find the perfect printer for your needs.

Brother INKvestment MFC-J995DW inkjet printer

(Image credit: Brother)

Brother MFC-L2750DW XL laser printer

(Image credit: Brother)

Canon Pixma TR8620 review

(Image credit: Canon)

Epson EcoTank Pro ET-5850 small business printer

(Image credit: Epson)

Canon ImageClass MF743Cdw small business laser printer

(Image credit: Canon)

Brother HL-L2390DW laser printer

(Image credit: Brother)

Canon Pixma TR150 portable printer

(Image credit: Canon)

HP Envy 7855 inkjet printer

(Image credit: HP)

When it comes to finding the perfect printer, trust Tom's Guide to guide you towards the right choice. Our experts provide comprehensive analysis and recommendations, ensuring you make the best decision. For more information on how we test and rate, click here.

Introducing the HP OfficeJet Pro 9015e All-in-One Printer

The Perfect Printer for Everyday Use

Why We Chose It

Being labeled as the "Best Everyday Printer for Most Users" is no easy feat. Our selection had to meet several criteria: exceptional print quality, the capability to produce vibrant colors for presentations and reports, an all-in-one functionality for quick copying and scanning, and an automatic document feeder (ADF) to make your life easier. The HP OfficeJet Pro 9015e ticks all those boxes and more, boasting text output that rivals laser printers in terms of quality. It's also faster and has a higher duty cycle compared to its competitors.

Who It's For

The 9015e is compatible with HP's Instant Ink subscription plan, allowing you to cut down on operating costs to as little as 3.5 cents per page. Whether you're printing black text or borderless photos, Instant Ink is perfect for families that print a lot. Additionally, the OfficeJet Pro lives up to its name and is ideal for home or micro offices that value both professional text output and eye-catching marketing materials.


  • Fast printing speed

  • High print quality overall

  • Competitive running costs

  • Borderless printing capability

  • Convenient 35-sheet auto-duplexing ADF

  • Attractive and compact design


  • Only one paper input source

Introducing the Canon Maxify GX5020

A First-Rate Print-Only Solution to the HP OfficeJet Pro 9015e

Why We Chose It

Standalone inkjet printers are a rarity these days, but if all you need is reliable document printing and glossy photos in large quantities, the Maxify GX5020 from Canon is worth considering. Its biggest selling point is its affordable ink: With a refillable bulk-ink system, you can achieve running costs as low as 0.5 cent per monochrome page and 0.7 cent per color page. And that's not including the full-size ink bottles that come bundled with the printer. Plus, the output quality is top-notch.

Who It's For

The Maxify is designed for home offices, but it's also suitable for families with high printing demands. If you print a lot and are conscious about overall costs, this printer can save you a significant amount of money in the long run.


  • Affordable ink costs

  • Ethernet, USB, and Wi-Fi connectivity

  • Duplex printing capability

  • Support for mobile devices


  • Higher initial price compared to cartridge-based models


$215.64 on Amazon

(Opens in a new window)

Introducing the Brother MFC-J4335DW

The Top Inkjet All-in-One Printer for Homes and Small Offices

Why We Chose It

If your budget is under $200, you have plenty of options when it comes to all-in-one inkjet printers that are compact and space-saving. However, the Brother MFC-J4335DW goes a step further by offering duplex printing, faxing capabilities, a 20-page ADF, and low running costs of less than a penny per black page and under a nickel per color page. While the ADF doesn't support double-sided scanning, sacrifices are expected in this price range.

Who It's For

Small offices and homes, especially those with heavy printing needs, will find the MFC-J4335DW to be a perfect fit. Its fax feature may not be used frequently, but it's always handy to have. Moreover, its reliable paper handling, quality text output, and above-average graphics make it a great choice for a range of tasks.


  • Duplex printing capability

  • Fast print speed for its price

  • Fax functionality

  • Mobile device compatibility for printing and scanning

  • Low price and cost per page


  • ADF doesn't support double-sided scanning

  • Text quality is subpar for small fonts and certain stylized fonts


$179.90 on Amazon

(Opens in a new window)

Introducing the Epson EcoTank Pro ET-5850

The Ultimate Inkjet All-in-One Printer for Businesses

Why We Chose It

As a recipient of the Best of the Year award in 2020, Epson's EcoTank Pro ET-5850 is a fantastic option for high-volume office printing. Though it no longer comes with two years' worth of free ink, it remains an excellent deal. This all-in-one printer features a 50-page ADF with auto duplexing, a generous 550-sheet paper capacity, and near-typeset-quality text and impressive graphics. It rivals the speed of other inkjet models and manages to deliver both monochrome and color pages at a cost of only 2 cents per page.

Who It's For

Unless you require wide-format media support (which its sibling, the ET-16650, offers), the ET-5850 is practically tailor-made for small businesses and workgroups that print between 3,000 to 4,000 pages each month. It was one of the pioneering office printers to successfully implement the bulk-ink concept, drastically reducing page costs to less than a penny for black and white documents. No other printer in this category can handle busy office duties as efficiently as this.


  • Two years of unlimited ink supply

  • Extremely low running costs

  • Exceptional print quality

  • Convenient auto-duplexing ADF

  • Cutting-edge PrecisionCore 4S printhead

  • Excellent mobile connectivity options

  • Two-year warranty with registration


  • Higher initial purchase price

Introducing the HP Color LaserJet Enterprise MFP M480f

The Best Color Laser All-in-One Printer

Why We Chose It

Midrange color laser all-in-one printers are neither inexpensive nor compact, but the HP Color LaserJet Enterprise MFP M480f is a reliable workhorse. With a recommended monthly usage of approximately 5,000 pages, this printer features a 50-sheet ADF, a multipurpose tray, and a 250-sheet paper drawer (with an optional 550-sheet second cassette available). In addition to conventional Ethernet and Wi-Fi connectivity, it offers versatile mobile device compatibility. Moreover, its output quality is exceptional.

Who It's For

The "Enterprise" in its name says it all—this printer comes with fleet-management features and is suitable for midsize businesses. However, even midsize businesses will be enticed by its impressive performance and competitive running costs (around 2.3 cents for monochrome pages and 14.1 cents for color).


  • Robust mobile connectivity options

  • Outstanding print quality

  • Relatively compact footprint

  • Expandable paper capacity

  • Competitive running costs


  • Somewhat high purchase price

Introducing the Canon imageClass MF452dw

The Ultimate Mono Laser All-in-One Printer

Why We Chose It

While color inkjets receive all the attention, compact and cost-effective monochrome laser printers will always serve small offices and workgroups that primarily print black-and-white documents. They can also be useful for heavy-printing families, especially if they have students who print worksheets or report drafts frequently. The Canon imageClass MF452dw is the best-in-class mono laser all-in-one printer, with competitive pricing. It stands out with its big, user-friendly touch panel, flexible paper handling for printing and scanning, and excellent mono output quality.

Who It's For

The AIO functionality is most beneficial for small offices and workgroups, but this model is equally useful for heavy-printing homes. While it may not be suitable for photo or image printing, it excels in raw document handling, making it an exceptional value for money.


  • Exceptional text, graphics, and photo quality for a mono laser printer

  • Auto-duplex printing capability

  • Duplexing ADF for scanning and copying

  • Wired and wireless network connections

  • Easy Wi-Fi Direct connections to mobile devices


  • ADF doesn't support duplex scanning for faxing


$452.69 on Amazon

(Opens in a new window)

Introducing the HP Neverstop Laser MFP 1202w

An Excellent Alternative to the Canon imageClass MF452dw

Why We Chose It

The HP Neverstop Laser MFP 1202w is an exceptional monochrome document printer that also offers copying and scanning functions, albeit at an entry-level. It does not feature an automatic document feeder, which means stacks of paper or multipage documents need to be fed manually. However, its standout feature is the innovative toner-refill system, which greatly reduces operating costs to as low as 0.6 cent per page. This is roughly one-fifth or one-sixth the cost of traditional laser printers that use standard toner cartridges.

Who It's For

If top-quality graphics and photos are not a priority for you, the Neverstop Laser MFP 1202w is an excellent choice. It's perfect for homes or small offices that need to print around 2,500 black-and-white pages every month while keeping costs to a minimum. Additionally, it handles occasional copy and scan jobs with ease.


  • Light and compact design

  • Excellent text print quality

  • Incredibly low running costs

  • Easy and mess-free toner refill kit

  • Great price point


  • Below-average graphics and image print quality

  • Lack of automatic duplex printing

  • Lack of an automatic document feeder

Introducing the Brother HL-L9310CDW

The Top Color Laser Printer (Print-Only)

Why We Chose It

When it comes to making copies, there are dedicated machines for that. Scanning? Not necessary here! The Brother HL-L9310CDW is a no-nonsense, single-function laser printer. It's ready to churn out thousands of pages (up to 6,000 per month) with flawless, vividly colorful graphics and text that rivals typeset quality. Its print speed outshines that of even the most expensive enterprise printers. Additionally, it offers plenty of connectivity and expansion options, along with robust fleet security features.

Who It's For

The HL-L9310CDW will be welcomed with open arms by midsize and large offices and workgroups that value exceptional print quality, fast speeds, competitive running costs, and extensive paper capacity options. Certified for various applications, from remote computing to handling electronic medical records, it offers outstanding versatility and output quality.


  • Exceptional print quality

  • Fast print speeds

  • Low running costs

  • High-yield toner cartridges

  • Expandable paper capacity

  • Enterprise and fleet security features

  • Abundant standard and mobile connectivity options


  • Somewhat higher price tag

  • Relatively small color touch screen


9.99 on Amazon

(Opens in a new window)

Canon ImageClass LBP236dw

The Perfect Mono Laser Printer (Print-Only)

Why We Chose It

The Canon ImageClass LBP236dw stood out from Lexmark's MS431dw due to its significantly faster speed for duplex printing. It also has a lower list price of $299 and a reasonably low running cost. This makes it the ideal choice for small to medium-sized offices that require duplex printing. It's a reliable monochrome workhorse for mid-range to high-volume printing needs.

Who Can Benefit From It

If you rarely or never print in duplex, the Lexmark MS431dw offers similar performance and capability as the Canon printer, but with minimal savings. The LBP236dw is the top choice for most monochrome printing needs. It's perfect for small and medium-sized offices and workgroups that only require high-quality black-and-white printing without copying or scanning capability.


  • Exceptional mono laser output quality across the board

  • Automatic duplex printing

  • Ethernet and Wi-Fi network connection options

  • Supports mobile printing for Android and iOS devices


  • User manual covers two printers, which can lead to confusion


Purchase on Amazon for $378.50

(Opens in a new window)

Brother MFC-J6945DW INKvestment Tank Color Inkjet All-In-One Printer

The Ultimate Wide-Format Office Printer

Why We Chose It

Small offices also need wide printouts, and Brother's MFC-J6945DW is the perfect solution. It's an INKvestment Tank color inkjet printer that combines high-capacity cartridges with internal tanks, resulting in operating costs as low as a penny per monochrome page and a nickel per color page. What sets it apart is its ability to print on tabloid-size (11-by-17-inch) as well as letter- and legal-size paper. It excels at printing big pages, offering copying, scanning, and faxing capabilities along with high-quality prints. Its 600-sheet paper capacity and 2,000-page recommended monthly print volume make it a top choice.

Who Can Benefit From It

Although it lacks support for connecting via Bluetooth, the MFC-J6945DW has both Wi-Fi Direct and NFC capabilities. It may not handle super-tabloid (13-by-19-inch) media, but it's still a convenient and high-quality choice for small businesses that need to print their own marketing materials. It's fast enough for light to medium-duty use in any office setting.


  • Low overall running costs.

  • Produces high-quality prints.

  • Prints, scans, copies, and faxes tabloid-size pages.

  • Features a single-pass duplexing automatic document feeder.

  • Offers three different paper input sources.


  • Lack of super-tabloid support limits its value.

Epson SureColor P900 17-Inch Photo Printer

The Ultimate Wide-Format Dedicated Photo Printer

Why We Chose It

When it comes to wide-format art printers for professional photographers, Epson has always been a leading choice. The SureColor P900 lives up to this reputation by printing on cut sheets up to 17 by 22 inches and paper rolls for panoramas up to 17 by 129 inches. It uses 10 premium high-definition inks that deliver breathtaking banners and photos. With its automatic switching between photo-black and matte-black inks and compatibility with a wide range of photo and art paper, it offers exceptional print quality. The P900's operating costs are comparable to its competitors, and its touch-screen control panel is superior in terms of user-friendly configuration.

Who Can Benefit From It

While it may not be the ideal choice for printing family snapshots or text documents, the SureColor P900 is a must-have for professional photographers and serious hobbyists who prioritize museum-quality photos, artwork, and banners. Its output is exquisite and unmatched in quality.


  • Outstanding print quality

  • Prints borderless banners and panoramas up to 17 inches wide

  • Prints cut sheets up to 17 by 22 inches

  • Utilizes UltraChrome PRO10 pigment inks for an increased color gamut

  • Automatically switches from photo black to matte black ink

  • Competitive ink costs per millimeter


  • Additional cost for the paper roll adapter

Canon Selphy CP1500 Wireless Compact Photo Printer

The Perfect Snapshot Photo Printer

Why We Chose It

The Canon Selphy CP1500 excels at its main job: delivering great-looking photo prints. As part of the renowned Selphy dye-sublimation printer line, it produces snapshot-size prints using convenient "print packs" that combine the paper and dye-ribbon cartridges. This printer stands out by supporting up to four different print sizes, some with adhesive backing and some without. It's relatively fast, produces high-quality prints, and offers very competitive running costs. While the software is more geared towards mobile devices than PCs, it performs admirably regardless of the photo source.

Who Can Benefit From It

Families, especially those with a scrapbooker or genealogy enthusiast, will find the Selphy CP1500 to be a handy device. It provides a quick, compact, and affordable way to transform smartphone images into beautiful photos and stickers. With this printer, you'll always know exactly how much "ink" is left.


  • Consistently high-quality photo prints

  • Low running costs (for 4-by-6-inch media)

  • Supports multiple paper sizes with an affordable tray option

  • Easy-to-use control panel

  • Printing capability from USB and SD card memory devices

  • Optional battery for increased portability


  • No dedicated Windows or macOS software (companion apps are primarily phone-oriented)

  • Thin photo paper stock in the provided consumables packs

Brother PocketJet PJ883

The Best Portable Document Printer

Why We Chose It

Portable printers are not common, but the Brother PocketJet PJ883 is a standout option for printing letter-size documents on the go. It's a thermal-printing model that uses fax-style thermal paper stock in place of ink. While the thermal paper has a limited lifespan and prints strictly in monochrome, its portability and connection flexibility make it a winner for portable document printing. Weighing just 1.34 pounds, including its battery, it offers printing via USB, Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, and Bluetooth.

Who Can Benefit From It

This printer has a niche market, primarily used for applications that require printing in a vehicle, such as receipts in a delivery truck or tickets in a police car. However, its small size and lightweight design also make it suitable for various other situations, from printing roofing proposals at a customer's kitchen table to producing invoices or informational materials at trade shows or street fairs. If you're always on the move for business purposes, this is the perfect printer for you. It eliminates the need to carry around ink tanks while being incredibly portable.


  • Smaller and lighter than mobile inkjet printers

  • Surprisingly high-quality output

  • Prints via USB, Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, and Bluetooth
  • Eliminates the need for ink with thermal paper


  • Higher price point compared to other portable printers

  • Limited to monochrome printing only

Epson LabelWorks LW-PX800

The Best Label Printer for General/Industrial Labeling

Why We Chose It

Industrial labeling requires versatility, and Epson's LabelWorks LW-PX800 is a powerful printer designed for various labeling needs. With the ability to print on more than 200 different kinds of tape cartridges, from standard polyester strips to wider specialty tapes, it offers unmatched flexibility. The printer's software is compatible with both Windows and macOS, making it ideal for a wide range of environments. Despite its weight of 2.4 pounds, the LW-PX800 is still well-suited for industrial use, thanks to its extensive tape compatibility and advanced features.

Who Can Benefit From It

The LW-PX800 may be overkill if you only need to label a few storage bins in your garage. However, it is perfect for organizing construction, electrical, or engineering workplaces. It can handle most bulk labeling jobs, with impressive speed and flexibility. This printer even allows you to cut labels without cutting the backing, resulting in a continuous strip of labels for easy application.


  • Prints on a wide range of tape types, up to 36mm in width

  • Downloadable apps available for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS

  • Ability to cut labels and round corners without cutting the backing strip

  • Lifetime warranty for added peace of mind


  • Corner rounding requires manual action, resulting in additional time spent


Purchase on Amazon for $379.95

(Opens in a new window)

Rollo Wireless Printer X1040

The Best Label Printer for Shipping Labels

Why We Chose It

While there are multiple printers available for printing shipping labels, the Rollo X1040 offers extra convenience with its Wi-Fi connection. Unlike printers that require USB or Ethernet connections, this $279.99 printer can easily connect to your devices via Wi-Fi. It works with almost any die-cut thermal paper roll or stack, automatically detecting gaps between labels and determining the label size to position itself optimally for printing. Additionally, it integrates perfectly with the cloud-based Rollo Ship Manager, which provides a unified interface for printing labels on USPS, UPS, and 13 other online shopping platforms. The Ship Manager also offers access to significant discounts for both Post Office and UPS services, with plans to include FedEx discounts in the future.

Who Can Benefit From It

Stores, shops, and entrepreneurs on platforms like Etsy can benefit greatly from the Rollo printer. If you ship a significant number of packages and are considering investing in a label printer, the Rollo X1040 is your best choice. It provides a first-rate printing experience for all your shipping needs.


  • Wi-Fi connection allows for seamless printing from PC, phone, or tablet

  • Compatible with non-proprietary labels and easy to load with minimal waste

  • Quickly prints labels ranging from 1.57 to 4.1 inches wide

  • Option to use Rollo Ship Manager, which includes shipping discounts


  • No app available for designing and printing labels

  • Ship Manager currently only provides discounts for USPS and UPS (FedEx discounts coming soon)

Buying Guide: The Best Printers for 2023

Printers come in a variety of types and are designed for different needs and budgets. When choosing a printer, it's important to consider whether it's intended for home or business use, the type of printing you need to do (text, graphics, or photos), and whether color printing is necessary. It's also important to think about the specific features and capabilities you require from a printer. Here is an overview of the most common types of printers:

Home printers (price range: $50 to $250) are primarily inkjet printers (excluding small-format dedicated photo printers). They are designed for low-volume printing and prioritize photo and graphics printing over text. Most home printers are all-in-one printers that can also scan and copy documents. If you're on a tight budget and need a printer for a variety of tasks, an inexpensive home printer is a good option.

Home-office printers ($100 to $400) are usually inkjet or affordable monochrome laser printers. They are designed for low- to mid-volume printing and are suitable for both home and small-office use. Most inkjet home-office printers are all-in-one devices that excel at printing text and graphics, with some also offering high-quality photo printing. Laser home-office printers are primarily focused on text printing. These printers typically have a paper capacity of around 100 sheets, but higher-end models can hold up to 500 sheets.

Business printers ($100 to $2,500 or more) include a wide range of options, from compact models for low-volume use to large floor-standing units suitable for departmental use. Business printers are primarily laser printers, although inkjet printers have gained popularity in this market. Laser business printers are often monochrome, prioritizing text printing over graphics and photos. Many business printers are multifunction devices, offering scanning, copying, and faxing capabilities in addition to printing. These printers are designed for fast printing and high paper capacities, with security features such as password-protected printing and encrypted hard drives.

Photo printers ($400 to $2,000) are dedicated devices designed for professional photographers, photo enthusiasts, and graphic artists. These printers produce high-quality prints, both in color and black-and-white. Some photo printers are wide-format printers, capable of printing on large paper sizes, while others are small-format printers designed specifically for printing photos from smartphones. Photo printers typically use multiple ink cartridges to achieve precise color reproduction.

Label printers are specialized printers designed specifically for printing labels on various materials. They range from standalone devices with built-in keyboards to printers that connect to computers. Label printers come in different sizes and offer compatibility with different label types and sizes.

Portable printers are compact and lightweight printers that can be easily carried and used on the go. They are often used for printing documents outside of traditional office settings, such as in a vehicle or at a client's location. Portable printers can be inkjet or thermal printers, offering flexibility for different printing needs.

When choosing a printer, it's important to consider not only the upfront cost of the printer itself but also the ongoing costs of ink or toner cartridges. Lower-cost printers may have higher ink or toner costs, while higher-end printers often have lower per-page printing costs. Some printer manufacturers also offer ink subscription programs that can provide savings, particularly if you print close to the number of pages included in the plan.

Consider your specific printing needs and budget when selecting a printer. Doing thorough research and reading reviews can help you find the best printer for your requirements.

Discover the Variety of Paper Types and Sizes for Printing

When it comes to printing, it's important to consider the range of paper types and sizes that your printer can handle. Take into account factors such as the minimum and maximum paper size, paper thickness, and whether you need the ability to print on both sides of the page using a duplexer. If you frequently switch between different types of paper, like envelopes, checks, or letterheads, look for a printer with multiple drawers or a single-sheet bypass tray. This way, you won't have to constantly unload and reload regular paper every time you need to use specialty media. Additionally, make sure the printer's paper capacity is sufficient for your needs so that you don't have to constantly add paper. A general rule of thumb is that you shouldn't need to refill paper more than once a week on average.

Evaluating a Printer's Total Cost of Ownership

Printer ink costs have long been a concern for home and business users. To help reduce per-page ink costs, major manufacturers have introduced various strategies. However, it's important to consider the total cost of ownership, which includes the initial cost of the printer plus the total cost of ink over its lifetime. This will give you a better understanding of which printer will be more cost-effective in the long run. Sometimes, even if a printer has a higher cost per page, it can still be a more affordable choice if you print a large volume of pages. Our guide on how to calculate the total cost of ownership for inkjets can help you make an informed decision. Similar principles apply to other types of printers as well.

If you print a significant number of pages, it may be worth considering printers that offer cost-saving features. For example, Epson's EcoTank and SuperTank printers, Canon's MegaTank printers, and HP's Smart Tank Plus printers use bottled ink that is poured into internal tanks. Brother's INKvestment models, on the other hand, come with high-capacity ink cartridges that transfer ink into reservoirs within the printer. Similarly, HP's Neverstop laser printers utilize bulk laser toner. While these printer models may have a higher upfront cost, they come with ample ink supplies that can last a long time, and additional ink bottles or cartridges are available at affordable prices. Learn more about strategies to save on printer ink by referring to our detailed article.

Bottle Ink Fill

(Credit: Epson)

Subscription Programs for Ink Savings

Ink subscription programs can provide another avenue for reducing ink costs. One popular program is HP Instant Ink, which is joined by Brother Refresh EZ Print and Canon Pixma Print Plan. These programs allow owners of select printers to pay a monthly fee based on the number of pages they print, regardless of whether they are black or color pages. The printer manufacturer automatically sends you more ink when your supply is running low. These subscription programs can save you a significant amount of money, particularly if you print a substantial number of color pages and closely match the page count included in the plan.

Determining the Printing Speed You Need

The required printing speed depends on your specific printing needs. If you typically print just one or two pages at a time, high-speed printing is not a major concern. Most home printers aren't designed for speed, and laser printers often exclude the time taken to print the first page when advertising their high pages-per-minute (ppm) rating. On the other hand, if you frequently print longer documents, the speed starting from the second page becomes more significant, making a laser printer a more suitable choice.

In terms of speed, laser printers usually deliver close to their claimed speeds for text documents, as they require minimal processing time. While some inkjet printers may claim faster speeds than their more expensive laser counterparts, they often fail to live up to these claims. However, inkjet printers have been improving their speed capabilities, and certain high-end models, often referred to as "laser alternative" inkjets, can compete with similarly priced laser printers in terms of speed. To learn more about our printer testing process, check out our informative article.

Choosing the Right Connectivity Options

USB ports are still commonly found on printers and provide a reliable connection for most users. Additionally, many office printers and an increasing number of home printers offer Ethernet jacks and Wi-Fi wireless connectivity, allowing you to share the printer with your home or office network. If you encounter difficulties with your current printer's Wi-Fi connection, our troubleshooting guide can help you resolve the issue. Printers equipped with Wi-Fi Direct allow for a direct connection to most Wi-Fi-enabled devices, making it convenient to print without the need for a network connection.

Major printer manufacturers now offer mobile apps that enable you to capture photos on your phone and print them directly, eliminating the need to transfer files to a computer first. Bluetooth support is often available for small-format photo printers, enabling easy connections with mobile devices. While a few printers support Near-Field Communication (NFC), allowing you to print by simply tapping your phone or tablet on a specific spot on the printer, this technology is becoming less common.

Ensuring Printer Security Features

Printer security is a crucial aspect that is often overlooked. Hackers can gain access to a network through a printer, and in situations where the printer is not immediately accessible, sensitive documents may be at risk of being seen by unauthorized individuals. Many business-oriented printer models include a private printing feature, which requires the entry of a PIN at the printer's control panel to initiate the printing process after sending the print job. Regular firmware updates are essential to address vulnerabilities, and printer hard drives should be encrypted. Manufacturers often provide administrative tools that help IT departments enforce printer security.

Considering Size and Weight

A printer's size and weight largely depend on the paper handling features it offers. However, there can still be significant variations to consider. Before making a purchase, ensure that the printer will fit in the designated space, accounting for all dimensions including paper feeders and extended output trays. It's also important to consider whether the printer is easily movable in case you need to relocate it. For individuals living or working in compact spaces like dorm rooms, there are very compact printer options available.

In conclusion, when it comes to finding the best printer for 2021, there are plenty of great options to choose from. Whether you're looking for an all-in-one printer for your home office or a compact photo printer for printing memories on the go, the top picks listed above will not disappoint. However, before making your final decision, it's important to consider factors such as the types and sizes of paper you'll be printing on, the printer's total cost of ownership, and the speed and connectivity options that suit your needs. Additionally, if security features and portability are a concern, be sure to look out for printers that offer those specifications. Ultimately, with the right printer in hand, you can enjoy high quality prints and hassle-free printing for all your needs.