Finding the Best Home Printer – A Buyer's Guide
With a big move to working from home and homeschooling, the one thing every household is looking at purchasing to make their life easier is finding the best home printer. Having a hard copy of a document is often essential. If you have spent any time trying to create activities for young kids, let alone give the older ones their assignments, you know how vital a printer is—even an affordable black and white one.
And although we understand that reducing our environmental impact is necessary, sometimes you just can’t go without having that document printed. Many government agencies still require physical forms to be printed and sent in. Many people buying and selling products online need to make their own shipping labels to avoid staying at the post office. Finding the best home printer to purchase can be challenging, what with the numerous models and capabilities offered by multiple manufacturers from which to choose.
Printers are available to suit every consumer and home office need, with a broad range of features and prices from $100 to $1,000 or more. Given all the options, how do you go about finding the best home printer? We are here to help you make an informed choice.
Finding The Best Home Printer to Buy
When asking yourself which printer is best, there is no right or wrong answer. You first must identify your printing requirements to narrow the field to a reasonable number of models:
- Is color printing a requirement? If not, highly efficient monochrome printers may suit your needs at a low cost.
- Do you need to print photos or high-definition output? This will also narrow your search.
- Are you sharing a printer with other family members, or do your requirements include printing from multiple devices? If you are sharing a printer, make sure your intended model has wireless connectivity for printing from laptops, tablets, and even smartphones.
- Will you need to be scanning and copying documents too? Some printers do this as well as printing.
Types of Home Printers
There are significant differences among printers suitable for home use, with different print speeds, print quality, and other features.
- Inkjet printers that utilize multiple ink cartridges to provide black or color printing
- Laser printers – available in monochrome and color versions
- All-in-one or multifunction printers that can also scan documents, fax, and make copies
As a general rule, inkjet printers provide higher quality results for printing photos, although at somewhat slower speeds than laser printers. Laser models excel at producing sharp black-and-white text results and even create bright color images but are generally not well suited for photo printing. Laser printers also typically provide higher output speeds.
Buying Guide for the Best Home Printer
Once you’ve narrowed the scope of features you need, compare models for the printer that suits your requirements. Here are some of your best options for high-quality, feature-rich home printers:
Best overall home printer: HP OfficeJet Pro 9015
If you’re looking for speed, print quality, and reliability, it’s all wrapped up in the HP OfficeJet Pro. You’ll be hard-pressed to find another printer for your home to match this one. It’s fast, reaching speeds of up to 22ppm in black and 18 ppm in color. It’s also more compact than its previous model, making it perfect for the at-home office. It comes with a color display and the EasyStart installer and HP Smart app, making setup simple. And the cherry on top? HP offers an Instant Ink subscription service and will automatically mail you reasonably priced new cartridges when your ink supply runs low.
Best color printer: Canon Color ImageClass LBP6222Cdw
If you need to print professional color documents daily, your best bet is a color laser printer. The Canon Color ImageClass will deliver near-professional quality that won’t look like you printed it at home on an inkjet. And it’s not too pricey either. Although this model does printing exceptionally well, that’s all you can expect. There’s no scanning or copying here. But if you’re looking for professional, vivid text and graphics with excellent contrast, look no further. It uses a high-capacity toner cartridge, rare at this price point, and color documents will cost under 4 cents a page to print. A bonus: there’s a single-sheet feeder for envelopes and photos and a USB port for when you have network issues.
Best for photos: Canon Pixma iP8720
If your New Year’s resolution was to print more photos of your family and friends, rather than keep them stored in the cloud, then we have the printer that can make this one come true. The Canon Pixma offers colorful and vivid photos with natural tones, high contrast, and remarkable detail. It prints 13×19″ photographs and can take six ink cartridges. You control the printer via a dialog box on your device. There is no traditional tray with this printer, you easily stack your media of choice into a rear feeder, and you can swap out different sizes and types of papers as needed. The ink cartridges last longer than other printers in this range, and you’ll be happy with its speed. Remember, it’s just for photos, though.
Best black and white printer: Brother HL-L2395DW
If you’re not handling any homeschooling projects and professional work documents but instead need to print records without color or graphics, then the Brother HL is for you. There is only one toner or ink cartridge to keep an eye on, keeping your cost of printing low. Setup is painless and operation simple. It’s a laser printer too. This model can easily connect to Wi-Fi and supports Google Cloud Print and network printing, whether using a PC or Mac. Of course, its speed is quick, too, printing ten pages in less than 30 seconds. And copying and scanning are available too.
Best Value: HP Envy 6055
Suppose you’re not looking to spend too much money on your printer; who knows how long you’ll need to be working from home? Then the HP Envy will not let you down, and it is excellent value for money. It can handle wireless printing, both single and double-sided, copying, and scanning. And if the network is down, don’t worry, use the USB port. For those who like going green, you’ll be happy to know that this compact-designed printer is made with 20 percent recycled plastic. Its recommended monthly page volume is under 400.
Problems After Your Purchase?
So you made your choice, unpacked your new printer, and are ready to print, scan, copy, and more, but nothing happens. What now? Most printers are either pre-loaded with drivers or come with software that includes drivers for your system. Manufacturers constantly update software and drivers to add features and fix problems, so the software packaged with your printer may be outdated.
To solve that problem, you have several options:
Use Windows Update
Check for software that is outdated on your system, which may include driver updates. This is a relatively simple process:
Select the Start button, click Settings, then select Update & Security:
When Windows Update starts, click the ‘Check for Updates’ option.
Windows will search your system for any required updates for your operating system, including drivers it determines to be outdated. Windows Update will download the updates and prompt you through the installation, after which you should reboot your computer to make sure all updates take effect.
If this does not solve your problem, the cause may be that Microsoft does not have the latest drivers for the make and model of your printer. Your next step is to check with the manufacturer’s phone support or website.
Access the Manufacturer’s Website
Nearly every printer manufacturer provides a support website where you can search for the latest software for your exact printer model and OS version. Then download the software or driver and install it to see if that fixes your printing problem. One word of caution – be sure you know the applicable version of your operating system (Windows 7, Windows 10, Home or Pro, 32-bit or 64-bit, for example), as there could be unique drivers for different OS versions.
As with Windows Update, once you have downloaded and installed the manufacturer’s latest drivers, be sure to reboot for the changes to be applied to your system.