Technology has come a long way from the printing press. Instead of hand setting type to create a document, you simply press a button and a printer creates a replica of what’s on the screen—from documents and photos to 3D model prototypes. Many modern printers sync with smart devices to allow remote printing, and some are compatible with a virtual assistant for voice commands.
The best printer for your home office should satisfy the needs of your family members’ businesses, schoolwork, and hobbies—such as printing reports, stamps, shipping labels, cards, and photos. Different printers handle specific projects better than others. Read on to learn about the types available and why the following are considered among the best printers models in their respective categories.
The three main types of printers are 3D, laser, and inkjet. When narrowing your search for the best printer for your home office, the first step is determining which type will suit you best.
Inkjet printers spray ink onto paper, which absorbs the ink droplets to create images. These printers are typically the most affordable and easy to use. They can print text, graphics, and vivid full-color photos. Inkjet printers produce high-quality print jobs; they can range from 300 dpi to 600 dpi and are a suitable choice for smaller images and reports.
In terms of speed, inkjets print black-and-white documents between approximately 5 and 18 ppm, but color photos will take much longer. An 8-by-10 photo can take 4 minutes or longer, but if your printer is made for photo printing, the quality will show in the results.
Some inkjet printers use tanks instead of ink cartridges. These printers have refillable reservoirs that you top off with bottles of ink. Tank inkjet printers are often more expensive initially but offer long term savings on ink cartridge costs.
Laser printers are a traditional style of printer that, thanks to certain tech upgrades, can now work with handheld devices. Laser printers produce high-quality documents with resolutions ranging from 600 dots per inch (dpi) to 1,200 dpi. Instead of ink, laser printers use a powder called toner, which makes print jobs crisp and smudge-free.
Laser printers suit high-volume printing, especially monochrome (black-and-white) text. Some laser printers fare quite well with color and graphics, but generally, laser printers are not the first choice for printing photos at home. Laser printers tend to be more reliable and have faster printing speeds than inkjets, with black-and-white text printing typically from 9 pages per minute (ppm) to 25 ppm.
3D printers are specialty models that, in just a few hours, create 3D models or prototypes based on a 3D computer-aided design (CAD) drawing made with computer software. Instead of using ink like traditional printers, 3D printers deposit layers of thermoplastics, which melt when heated and become solid when cool.
3D printers build from the bottom up, layer by layer, using a method called fused depositional modeling (FDM): They print a layer, allow it to dry, then print the next layer on top, fusing the layers together with adhesive or ultraviolet light.
The best printer fits well in your home office setup and tackles print jobs that give you high-quality documents and graphics. Some things to consider are the number and types of documents you print, the quality you need, and the maintenance requirements.
Nearly all manufacturers use standardized tests developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), which substantiates printing capabilities and makes it easier for the consumer to compare each model’s speed and other features. Here are some of the key functions and features to consider when selecting a printer.
Print speed is measured in the number of pages per minute (ppm) a printer produces. There are variances between ppm for black and white versus ppm for color printing; for this reason, printer specs may show two different ppm speeds.
For black and white, the average ppm is 15 to 20 pages, and the average color printing is 10 to 15 ppm. Color printing for photos or graphics takes a bit longer due to multiple inks and more content, while black-and-white printing is usually just text. Print speed may be less important for home printing, unless you print a lot of pages often or you’re in a time crunch.
Printing resolution is measured in dots per inch (dpi). The number of dots the printer can apply to a square inch of paper indicates how well the printer creates high-resolution, high-detail images.
Laser printers melt dots of toner against the paper, and inkjet printers spray micro drops of ink from nozzles. The more dots, the sharper the image on the page—which is achieved with dots of different sizes, intensities, and shapes. Most printers have sufficient resolution to deliver quality images, though you should always check model specifications.
Consider the following dpi guidelines, as they apply to your printing needs:
Some factors, such as software, type of ink, and paper type can alter dpi. For best results, make sure to use ink and paper made for your specific printer.
The duty cycle refers to the maximum number of pages per month the printer produces at the rated print quality. Part of the manufacturing process is to stress test the device and push it to the limits to determine its maximum capacity without any errors or jams. Make sure that your use falls well below the duty cycle number, as it avoids wear and tear on your machine.
If your expected use is close to the duty cycle of a printer you’re considering, it may be worth upgrading to a model with a higher duty cycle. Duty cycle is important if you do a lot of printing in your home office, but it’s usually a more prominent factor when purchasing a printer for a work office.
While the duty cycle is what a printer is capable of, recommended monthly print volume is the range at which the printer works best. If you anticipate doing a lot of printing, search the manufacturer’s website for the recommended monthly print volume for the device. This is the number of pages per month within the stated range that gives optimal printer performance. This is the sustainable range of pages you can print each month without causing extra wear and tear to the device.
Before you purchase a printer that seems like a good deal, research what kind of ink it takes and price out the ink to get the true cost of that printer. Buying an inexpensive printer only to spend more on ink later may not make it such a good deal after all.
Money spent on ink varies depending on how much you use your printer and what kind of print jobs you put it through—you’ll spend less on ink if you use a monochrome printer for text documents versus a color printer for photos.
Regular cleaning and maintenance help ensure that your printer continues printing high-quality documents and could prevent problems that require professional repair. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to care for your printer to extend its years of service. Tip: Constantly turning your printer on and off decreases its life span, so only do so when necessary.
An automatic document feeder (ADF) is in many all-in-one devices, letting you scan both sides of the page as the paper feeds through the printer. This handy feature enables you to put a stack of paper to be scanned or copied into the printer without being on hand to manually feed pages. Without an ADF, you would need to manually place and flip each page in the machine.
There are two types of ADFs:
Some printers allow you to scan and replicate hard copies of documents, such as pages from a printed book. Some models use scanning glass, on which you place the document facedown. If it’s a two-sided document, the menu screen on the printer indicates when to flip it over to scan the other side. Other types of printers feed into the machine and automatically scan both sides using an ADF.
Copying speed refers to the time it takes for the printer to produce copies after scanning. A copy speed of about 25 ppm is a good starting point. If you’re not in a rush to get your print jobs, copy speed may not be a deciding factor. On the other hand, if you’re often up against deadlines, waiting a long time for copies may affect your productivity—in that case, check the copying speed to see if it meets your needs.
Most new printers can connect through Wi-Fi and sync with your other smart devices—so keep your Wi-Fi login information handy during the printer setup. Wi-Fi makes it easy to print wirelessly from across the room or potentially communicate with the printer from virtually anywhere in the world. With Wi-Fi integration, you can print items from cloud-based platforms such as Google Drive—a function that is unavailable to printers that are not connected to the internet.
In addition to Wi-Fi connectivity, many printers enable you to connect a single computer using a USB port for a wired connection—a handy option if your Wi-Fi is spotty.
Some printers enable you to print without a computer by using a USB device or camera SD (secure digital) card. Insert the card or device and follow the prompts on the printer’s navigation screen to print specific files or documents.
The above considerations should help you find the best printer for your home office. To further assist with your search, check out the models below, all considered among the best available, categorized by specific qualities and functions.1Photo: amazon.com Check Latest Price
If you’re looking for a printer that can handle tasks from various household members, this Canon model is a great option to consider. It’s an all-in-one color inkjet solution for printing, scanning, and copying for professional and creative use. It supports various paper types and sizes, so you can print high-quality photos, make greeting cards, print on T-shirt transfer paper, or make your own CD labels.
The printer connects easily through Wi-Fi with any wireless device and has a USB port to connect to a local computer. Use the touchpad to print and scan photos from cloud-based platforms like Instagram or Facebook. Link Alexa to this printer to operate it with voice commands.
A five-color individual ink system enables you to replace only the ink that runs out. Other features include an oversize 4.3-inch LCD touchscreen for easy navigation, an SD memory card reader for photo printing, oversize scanning, and automatic duplex printing.2Photo: amazon.com Check Latest Price
This monochrome Brother laser printer is a quality option for those who print a lot of text or documents that don’t require color. With an impressively fast printing speed of 32 ppm, 250-sheet paper capacity, and automatic duplex printing, this device offers an affordable, efficient home office solution. This printer features flexible paper-handling options, including a manual feed slot for a variety of paper sizes beyond letter or legal size. It’s a compact option, suitable for small desks and spaces.
Smart technology within the printer detects low levels of toner; you can choose to set up your printer to automatically order ink that’s delivered to your home before toner runs out. The two-line LCD display offers easy-to-read text for simple navigation. Connect your devices, including Alexa, via Wi-Fi to print wirelessly from your mobile devices or computer, or use the high-speed USB port to connect the printer to a single computer.3Photo: amazon.com Check Latest Price
Photo buffs, take note: The HP ENVY is an inkjet model made for those who like to edit and print photos. Use the easy-to-navigate 2.7-inch color touchscreen to print, copy, or scan high-quality text, graphics, and photos. The printer boasts a 125-page input, a speed of 14 ppm for black and white, and 9 ppm for color. Plus, with borderless printing capability and a separate photo tray, your pictures get your chosen format without having to search for them between other print jobs.
Connect to this Bluetooth smart printer via dual-band Wi-Fi, or use the SD card slot to print glossy photos without a laptop or smart device. Printing from the SD card is simple: Insert the card, edit your photos, and print with authentic photo colors right from the touchscreen.
Print photos wirelessly from your phone or tablet using the HP Smart App that allows you to print from cloud-based sources, such as iCloud or Google Drive. When not focusing on photos, this model can be used for two-sided printing, scanning directly to email, and other versatile work purposes.4Photo: amazon.com Check Latest Price
HP’s OfficeJet Pro 9025 printer is an efficient machine that lets you create and set up Smart Tasks to save time with shortcuts for common jobs. You can also sync to such programs as QuickBooks and Google Drive to organize business receipts and documents easily. With automatic duplex printing, single-pass two-sided copy and scan, a scan-to-email function, and the ability to print from USB, there are many options to get your print jobs completed in 24 ppm or 20 ppm.
Use the 2.65-inch color touchscreen to send print jobs and connect your devices via self-healing Wi-Fi (it resolves connection issues preemptively) for convenient printing and scanning with the HP Smart App. This printer has two paper trays that hold 250 sheets each—combined that’s a full ream, making paper refills less frequent. Plus, built-in security features such as basic encryption and password protection lend peace of mind.5Photo: amazon.com Check Latest Price
Whether you work from home or on the go, this HP OfficeJet 200 color printer can get the job done. It fits easily into a computer bag or backpack for easy portability yet still has a 50-sheet input capacity and the ability to print glossy, borderless photos.
Setup takes mere minutes, and the fast-charging battery saves you the hassle of finding a power outlet. Simply recharge your battery using the included USB cord so it’s ready to print the next time you need it. You can print from your mobile devices or computer through Wi-Fi using HP Auto Wireless Connect.
Follow the instructions on the 2-inch mono display to print at speeds of 10 ppm for black and white and 7 ppm for color. This ENERGY STAR–certified printer is small but sufficient, especially when you’re on the move.6Photo: amazon.com Check Latest Price
For 3D printing at home, this Comgrow model comes partially assembled, so you can start 3D printing after a few minutes of setup. This 3D printer uses a stable and consistent Meanwell power supply that heats the hotbed to 110 degrees Celsius within 5 minutes. This printer comes with an upgraded extruder design for a consistent, clog-free model print. Once your print job is finished, the removable build service plate that your printed objects stick to protects the heated bed and makes it easy to remove models after the area cools down.
This printer comes with a fully open-source code printing software, similar to open source in software development: it’s a decentralized means of making or improving the printer’s software through a community of contributors. All users can view, modify, enhance, and use the 3D printing software to tailor their printer’s performance. By going directly into the code, users can improve their printer software (and therefore the resulting models) and share these discoveries or improvements with the Comgrow 3D printing community.
The power supply comes with Underwriter Laboratories (UL) certification, indicating that this printer meets the applicable power standards that protect it from unexpected power surges. If you do experience an unexpected power outage without power protection, this printer has a resume print function so it can pick up from the last recorded extruder position—no need to scrap the current print job and restart. Though suitable for 3D beginners, more experienced and tech-savvy users may prefer a more complex model.
Today’s printers are full of technology to make them more user-friendly and convenient. If you still have questions about the best home printers and how they work, consider the answers to these commonly asked questions.
It depends on your printing needs. Laser printers are more efficient for printing text and handle graphics well, but inkjet printers produce better photos.
For high-quality photos, get a printer with 1,200 dpi or higher.
The average life span of a home printer is 3 to 5 years. Regular maintenance and cleaning may increase a printer’s longevity.