When printers first went mainstream, many sold at extremely high prices. Today’s best printers sell at a fraction of the cost, allowing you to print photos, documents, and everything in between without shelling out insane wads of cash. They even ditch the old tether for a wireless connection making use and setup a breeze.
Anyone can now buy a cheap printer, but which is the best? Which provides the most bang for your buck? Here are some of the best cheap printers you can buy in 2022.
Epson EcoTank ET-2760
Canon Pixma iP8720
Best affordable printer for budding photographers
- Print sizes up to 13x19
- Excellent output quality
- Great for photo and everyday printing
- Slightly dark skin tones
- Large, heavy
Why you should buy this: Canon's Pixma iP8720 can print standard photos to wide formats for larger prints.
Who it's for: The budding photographer and home crafter.
Why we picked the Canon PIXMA iP8720:
The Pixma iP8720 is an excellent, home-friendly printer that combines great features with an affordable price. The quality is good enough for photo printing, and it can accommodate 13x19 prints if you need wider formats. The paper tray holds 120 sheets, and our tests showed that printing speeds were around 13.3 pages per minute (ppm) for black and white, while Canon claims up to 10.4 ppm for color.
Overall, the Pixma iP8720 is a remarkable printer and a great pick, especially for those who need to print flyers and other slightly larger materials. If you're a professional photographer or earnest amateur, however, you may want a printer with higher image quality.
This printer also supports both USB connections and Wi-Fi, with added support for Apple AirPrint and Google Cloud Print.
Canon Pixma iP8720
Best affordable compact printer
- Incredibly affordable
- Alexa compatibility
- Super compact design
- Not made more heavy-duty printing projects
Why you should buy this: Those looking to save as much money and space as possible.
Who it's for: Budget hunters, college kids, anyone who rarely uses a printer but still needs one.
Why we picked the Canon TS302:
If you really want to put the “budget” in budget printer, this Canon model is for you. It’s the most affordable printer we can currently find on the market and sports an incredibly compact design that can fit nearly anywhere with the paper tray down. That makes it ideal for those short on space who won’t be using a printer much but might still need one from time to time — like those living in dorms or working from home.
But although it’s super small and super cheap, this printer still includes a scanning function, as well as a measuring grid on top for more physical projects. It’s also compatible with Alexa for quick voice commands, and generally designed to work via app (although a few onboard controls are included). It’s the best choice for maximum savings if your needs are simple.
Epson WorkForce WF-3820
Best affordable home office printer
- Multi-function capabilities for scanning, copying, and printing
- Fast print speeds for price point
- Wireless printing support
- Vibrant color printing
- No fax capabilities
Why you should buy this: Epson's affordable WorkForce Pro WF-3820 can print at a zippy 21 pages per minute with fast-drying ink.
Who it's for: Offices that need fast prints based on reliable pigment-based ink.
Why we picked the Epson WorkForce Pro WF-3820:
Like the WorkForce Pro WF-3720 before it, Epson's new WF-3820 is an all-in-one multifunction printer that can make scans, copies, and prints. Upgrades include faster 21 pages-per-minute black-and-white prints and 11 pages-per-minute color. Epson uses its new vibrant DURABrite Ultra instant-dry pigment-based ink for this printer, so you're going to get smudge-free results. This makes the Epson WorkForce Pro WF-3820 ideal for offices that need a reliable, speedy inkjet to handle their document needs.
The printer comes with a 2.7-inch color touchscreen to navigate the settings and controls, like its predecessors, and it relies on Wi-Fi for wireless printing. There is an automatic document feeder for double-sided scans, and the printer can also handle duplex printing. All that's missing here is the fax, which most homes and businesses may not require anymore.
Epson WorkForce WF-3820
Best affordable workgroup printer
- Affordable cost per page printing
- Multifunction capabilities for an all-in-one solution
- Large cartridges will last long
- Text printing could be a little crisper at smaller fonts
Why you should buy this: Brother's MFC-J4535DW relies on large cartridges to make volume printing more cost-effective.
Who it's for: Home users who don't want to spend a fortune for each color print.
Why we picked the Brother MFC-J4535DW Tank Printer:
At $220, Brother's MFC-J4535DW Tank All-in-One Color Inkjet Printer may not sound like an inexpensive purchase, but keep in mind that this printer comes with up to a year of free ink included in the box. Despite the "tank" in its name, however, the Brother MFC-J4535DW uses cartridges and not ink tanks, so replacements, rather than refills, are necessary to keep running. That said, printing is kept affordable if you opt for the high-yield XL-branded INKvestment cartridges, which give you higher outputs at lower costs. Two trays that store up to 400 sheets ensure you won't run out of paper in the middle of a job. And to make your paper supply last even longer, automatic duplex printing is also supported.
The printer comes with a 2.7-inch touchscreen for control, and it also supports cloud printing as well as smartphone printing with built-in Wi-Fi and NFC wireless standards. Faxing, scanning, and copying are also supported on this multifunction printer. A front-facing USB port makes it convenient to print from a flash drive.
HP M209dwe LaserJet
Best affordable monochrome laser printer
- Crisp laser quality
- Fast print speeds suited for documents
- Speedy duplex printing
- Easy to use companion smartphone app for scanning
- No color printing support
Why you should buy this: HP's LaserJet M209dwe sacrifices color for fast, economical monochrome laser prints.
Who it's for: Budget-oriented homes and businesses primarily interested in printing black-and-white documents.
Why we picked the HP LaserJet M209dwe:
HP's monochrome LaserJet M209dwe comes in a very compact size, making it ideal for home and home office settings. Just don't let its compact design fool you — this printer is advertised with the fastest two-sided printing for its class at 30 pages per minute for black-and-white jobs. The first page is ready in as little as 6.9 seconds, ensuring you won't have to wait long for your document to start printing. Duplex printing is also supported to save on paper, and you can print on a variety of media types, including envelopes, labels, yardsticks, postcards, and even velum paper.
The printer comes with an Instant Ink subscription, giving you the first six months of free ink toner. After that, you can cancel the subscription and buy replacements a la carte, or rely on the company's worry-free subscription to ensure you'll have enough toner for your print jobs. This printer works with HP's robust HP Smart smartphone app, giving you added flexibility to securely send a fax, print documents from cloud services like Dropbox, or even scan directly to Google Drive or your email.
HP M209dwe LaserJet
Brother INKvestment Tank MFC-J1205W
Best affordable tank printer
- Affordable price
- Low running cost with year-long tank cartridges
- Reliable print quality
- Wireless printing support
- No ADF
- No touchscreen display
Why you should buy this: You need an economical printer to handle basic color printing needs
Who it's for: Home users who may need occasional printing
Why we picked the Brother INKvestment Tank MFC-J1205W:
Brother's affordable INKvestment Tank MFC-J1205W is a simple, modern printer that produces reliable quality color prints in a sleek design. Free of many of the bells and whistles of more advanced offerings, the MFC-J1205W doesn't come with features like a touchscreen control or automatic document feeder, but this helps to keep the design charming and elegant. There's still a flatbed scanner up top for color copies and scans, and built-in wireless printing support makes this a flexible printer for the smart home office.
The highlight of this printer is its large-capacity ink cartridges. While not a true tank printer, like the Epson model on our list, Brother's high yield ink can last for up to a year of moderate printing needs, so you're saving time and money on replacement ink. This printer is a solid choice for those who may need to occasionally print a page or two every so often, but it can scale to moderate volumes for busy homes juggling office documents, homework, and other printing needs.
Brother INKvestment Tank MFC-J1205W
Should I choose an inkjet or a laser printer?
That really depends on your personal printing needs, preferences, and budget. Traditionally, inkjet printers come with a lower upfront cost for the printer compared to a comparable laser printer, but replacement ink cartridges on the inkjet can be more expensive over time than toner for laser printing systems. That said, inkjets generally perform better with color printing processes, photographs, and artwork, while laser printers excel at handling documents, spreadsheets, and black-and-white print jobs. These days, however, the price and performance gaps are narrowing — inkjets that use tank cartridges deliver a more affordable cost per page, and laser printers are getting better at printing documents with color graphics.
What if I need a scanner?
If you need scanning and copying functionality, you'll want to choose a printer with a scanner. Some printers come with a flatbed scanner, so you can scan papers of varying sizes. Others will come with an automatic document feeder, or ADF, that will automatically feed through what needs to be scanned or copied. More expensive multifunction printers will come with duplex scanning capabilities, meaning the built-in scanner will be able to perform double-sided scans.
What factors go into the cost of a printer?
If you're on a tight budget, you'll want to look at two things. First, you'll want to choose a printer with a lower upfront cost. These are generally inkjet printers. Second, you'll want to know the cost per page, and this will be particularly important for larger print needs. Cost per page is determined by taking the total cost of the toner or ink cartridge and dividing it by the manufacturer's yield. For example, if ink costs $10 and that cartridge yields 10 prints, your cost per page is $1 per printed sheet. If you're looking at color printers, you'll generally see two or three cost-per-page calculations — there will be a calculation for monochrome prints, for color/mixed printing, and then a third one if it's a printer used for photo printing. Photo cost per page is generally the most expensive, as the printer needs to use a lot of ink for output.
What's the best printer for saving on ink costs?
Printer ink costs can be annoying to budget for over time. Some printers handle ink better than others, so you do have a few options. Our Brother INKvestment printer is a great place to start, as it comes with high-capacity ink cartridges designed to last as long as possible. While none quite made our list, Epson's EcoTank printers ditch cartridges altogether and instead give you refillable tanks and bottles of ink to top them off, one of the best ways to save on ink costs.
How long will my toner or ink last?
That will depend on how often you're printing, the volume you're printing, and what types of things you're printing. Toner on a laser printer is generally more expensive, but it will last longer than an ink cartridge on an inkjet. Even with moderate use, inkjet cartridges will last home users a few months or even a year if you're infrequently using your printer. Investing in a printer that supports high-yield cartridges — often designated with an XL branding — or a tank will give you better yields and lower your cost in the long run.
Can I print from my smartphone or tablet?
While older printers required a wired USB connection between your printer and a Mac or PC, most modern printers support a variety of wireless protocols. If you need to print using your smartphone or tablet, be sure to select a printer with support for Bluetooth printing, Wi-Fi Direct, or NFC. Most of these printers will also come with a smartphone app that can be used to initiate printing, and iPhone versions of these apps will support Apple's AirPrint standard.
How long do cheap printers last?
Many of these budget picks work best when used sparingly (the Workforce and Laserjet picks are notable exceptions), and using them all the time may wear them out more quickly. But with proper usage and general upkeep, you can expect any printer to last around three to five years before it starts encountering more than the usual number of problems.
Do I really need a printer these days?
A printer is still important for some activities. You may have documents to print out and physically sign, flyers to printer from an email, photos to make a collage or other art, and so on. While it's not common to use a printer everyday, they still have a role, which is why a cheap printer is a good choice for many people.
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