Shopping for a printer can be a trying experience as there are dozens of brands to choose from with slightly different features found on each model. HP printers are probably the best overall you can buy and they currently dominate the printer market. Canon Pixma printers are steadily gaining market share, especially in the injket printer field. Dell sells printers too, which only makes sense, since they manufacture millions of computers each year. Epson has some excellent photo printers and Brother offers some of the better all in one laser printers. Which printer is best for your needs? What should you look for in a printer? That's all listed down below in our buying guide followed by some recommendations.
First things first, where and how will you use the printer you buy? Will it be used strictly at home for printing homework projects for your kids or perhaps for printing things off the Internet? Inkjet printers are probably the way to go if you do periodic printing and occasional photo printing. Most are priced at about $100 and offer quality results. You need to look and see how many pages per minute the printer can do (usually listed as PPM), does it have a memory card reader or LCD viewer for pictures, can it fax or scan. If you want all of those features you will need to look at the all in one inkjets which run close to $200-$250. Black and white laser printers are still great in terms of quality printing and fast results. If color is not a concern, then go with one of the Dell laser printers like the 1110 or the 1720. The biggest expense associated with printers is having to replace the ink cartridges which can cost quite a bit (especially for color prints). You will want an efficient printer that doesn't waste ink or paper. We found dozens of reviews online through sites like CNET, PCMAG.com, ConsumerSearch.com, and in magazines like PC World and Consumer Reports. Many people buy printers when they purchase a new computer (part of a package) but you can buy printers all by themselves at stores like Circuit City, Sears, Best Buy and CompUSA. Online we recommend going to HPshopping.com, Staples.com, or OfficeDepot.com.
A good home use printer is the Canon Pixma IP4300 ($100) with the ability to print 8 x 10 photos in less than 2 minutes. The Epson Stylus Photo R260 ($90) is even cheaper, although it does print slightly slower compared to the others (3 PPM vs 6 to 8 PPM). HP has their Deskjet D4260 for $80 which is a bargain given their background and reputation in the printer world. I still own an HP Deskjet 950C and the thing works great for simple text and images in black and white. Overall the Canon IP4300 is the winner even though it's the most expensive of the bunch you get the best features and quality of printing. Buy the Canon HERE. You can get the Epson HERE.
All-in-One Inkjet Printers:
In this category we see HP and Canon going head to head with very few differences. The Canon Pixma MP810 ($250) is perhaps the best all in one inkjet printer on the market. It can print snapshots, has a memory card reader, can scan film, has PictBridge, a 2nd paper tray, and an LCD viewer 3 inches wide. The Canon Pixma MP830 also gets great reviews on Amazon.com and in Consumer Reports. If you are a loyal HP printer customer, don't feel left out, the HP Photosmart C5180 ($180) does a wonderful job of printing quality photos (a bit slower than the Canon models). It's hard to find any customer feedback that is negative on the HP all in one inkjet printers. The Officejet Pro L7580 ($250) is a step up on the C5180 and includes a fax modem, the ability to feed documents automatically, and it has a memory card reader. Buy the HP model HERE.
Best Laser Printers:
From all the evidence that we could find, color laser printers don't live up to their advertising. Many review sites say you are better off with a color inkjet printer for printing color documents and photos. As for black and white laser printers, these are recommended for home users who need to print out documents faster and cleaner than an inkjet printer can. Most of us only print out black text documents at home so a laser printer is the best choice. It costs less to print with a laser printer than it does with an inkjet. The top rated laser printers are the Dell 1100 ($100) which prints at about 10 PPM and holds up to 150 pages. If you require printing more pages or want a faster PPM (page per minute) try the Dell 1720 ($200) which can do 18 ppm and holds up to 250 pages. Brother printers are also top sellers and we recommend their Brother HL-5250DN ($240) for small offices with a 1200 x 1200 dpi resolution and it prints 20 ppm. The cost to run it is about 2.2 cents per page which is very cheap. For all in one laser printers see our selections below. Go to Dell.com for the Dell printers and Staples is a good choice for finding the Brother laser printers. You can buy the Brother printer online at Amazon.com HERE.
All in One Lasers:
All in one (AIO) laser printers are commonly referred to as multifunction printers since they let you not only print out pages but you can also scan, copy, or fax documents too. PC World and PC Magazine offer some great writeups and reviews while Consumer Reports rates their best each year as well. In years past the Brother AIO printers have not scored that well but recent tests show that the Brother MFC7420 ($250) is a leading multifunction printer with fast printing capabilities and good quality text. The MFC7420 lets you fax as well so it's better suited for small offices and places where that is necessary. The Canon Pixma MP600 ($180) is a great "value" buy if faxing isn't important. It can print at 30 PPM and will scan documents at 2400 x 4800 dpi. All of these printers can be found online at Amazon.com or office supply stores like Office Depot and Office Max. Buy the Brother printer HERE. Buy the Canon HERE.