Inkjet printers are incredibly versatile. Besides text documents, many can also print photos — some can even make museum-quality prints — labels, graphics, and many other types of materials. Multifunction (all-in-one or MFP) variants add scan, copy, and fax, making them ideal for small office/home office environments.
Even if you don’t print often, these MFPs can be used for scanning documents to PDF or saving them to the cloud. And while inkjet printers aren’t known for being the fastest, some newer models can rival laser printers in both speed and quality. Here are our current favorites.
At a glance
|Canon Maxify MB5420||The best overall inkjet printer||4.5 out of 5|
|HP PageWide Pro 577dw||The best office inkjet printer||Not yet rated|
|Canon Pixma TS9120||The best budget inkjet printer||Not yet rated|
|Epson SureColor P400||The best art inkjet printer||4.5 out of 5|
Canon Maxify MB5420
The best overall inkjet printer
Why should you buy this? Office machine that makes excellent prints.
Who’s it for? Small offices that want to share a printer.
How much will it cost? $212
Why we picked the Canon’s Maxify MB5420:
Inkjet printers offer many advantages, but traditionally speed hasn’t been one of them. Not anymore: The newest printers designed for the small office/home office are capable of making fast, quality prints, and one terrific option is Canon’s Maxify MB5420.
The MB5420 is large, but it’s designed to support a multi-person office – up to nine employees, according to Canon. The company claims a page print speed of 24 images per minute for black and white or 15.5 for color. In our tests, we achieved 22.2 and 10, respectively, which we find to be in-line with Canon’s rated speed. The printer also supports one-pass duplex printing, and ink cartridges have high yields.
More importantly, the prints are excellent, particularly with color. Although it isn’t a photo printer, the MB5420 could handle the task when we printed on photo paper. Don’t look at the MB5420 solely as an office product. If you have a household that prints often, the MB5420 is suitable for that environment too. But if it’s overkill for your needs, check out the Maxify MB5120.
HP PageWide Pro 577dw
The best office inkjet printer
Why should you buy this? It’s one of the fastest – if not the fastest – inkjet printer.The speed of the 577dw will leave you ditching the laser printer.
Who’s it for? Extremely impatient office workers.
How much will it cost? $899
Why we picked the PageWide Pro 577dw:
If speed is what you’re after, then your search ends with HP’s PageWide technology. Technically, the 577dw is not an inkjet printer in the traditional sense, but it shares certain traits like ink and quality. The big difference is that unlike an inkjet printer, which has a print head that travels back and forth across a sheet of paper, PageWide uses a stationary print head. This allows the machine to print up to 50 pages per minute in either black or color – HP claims it delivers the fastest speeds and a 40-percent reduction in color printing versus color laser printers. We find the PageWide printers to deliver on stated speed and quality.
Like an inkjet printer, the 577dw uses a four-color ink tank system that’s easy to replace. HP rates page yield at 13,000 for color and 17,000 for black-and-shite; it also supports for large-capacity (XL) cartridges. Besides Wi-Fi and Ethernet, the machine handles Wi-Fi Direct for peer-to-peer and NFC connections, as well as Apple AirPrint and Google Cloud Print. Security features let you monitor usage as well as ensuring it isn’t breached by unauthorized users. Need more paper storage? The 577dw supports optional paper trays.
The 577dw is a multifunction device (print, scan, copy, fax). If you don’t need the extras, downgrade to a single-function model like the PageWide Pro 552dw, which offers the same printer performance. The 577dw, however, is designed for office use and carries a price to match, so for many users it’s expensive and the speed is probably overkill.
Canon Pixma TS9120
The best budget inkjet printer
Why you should buy this? It offers great performance for a reasonable price.
Who’s it for? Home users who want to print gorgeous photos cheaply and easily.
How much will it cost? $100
Why we picked the Canon Pixma TS9120:
Fitting for one of the premier camera manufacturers, Canon also makes excellent color printers, and the Pixma TS9120 is a great example. TheTS9120 is a six-color (photo black, gray, cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) printer with a clean, angular look, and one that can print, copy, and scan.
The printer is quick and easy to set up, and has a number of convenient features, including a 5-inch LCD display on the front panel. TheTS9120 supports various connections (USB, Wi-Fi, NFC, and Ethernet) and has a slot for an SD card. It’s also compatible with mobile platforms like Apple AirPrint and Google Cloud Print.
Unfortunately, the printer only holds about 90-100 sheets of paper at a time, but there’s an auto-expandable output tray that does make larger printing projects a little easier. Still, for the price, theTS9120 offers excellent print quality and lots of compatibility options.
Epson SureColor P400
The best art inkjet printer
Why should you buy this? Seven ink tanks create the most accurate colors in an image.
Who’s it for? Photo and art enthusiasts who make quality prints for display or sale.
How much will it cost? $566
Why we picked the SureColor P400:
Color optimization, accuracy, and seven color inks combine (literally) to make one of the best photo and image printers available. This wireless printer can handle roll paper (up to 13 inches wide) and printable discs as well as more traditional printing materials. It’s a great fit for the dedicated artist that is intent on going professional — or already has a small business and wants a better way to print materials for sale.
It’s also significantly less expensive than its cousin, the P600, making the printer a better option for artists on a budget. Of course, you do have to give up a few things too. Instead of a color touchscreen, the printer uses a strip of basic controls and alerts that might take a little learning before you understand how everything works.
A quick word on accuracy and colors: Epson calls the printer an “8-color” printer, but it’s more complicated than that. There are seven color ink cartridges including matte black and photo black cartridges, plus cyan, magenta, yellow, red, and orange. Then there’s the “gloss optimizer” cartridge, which isn’t really a color but adds — you guessed it — better gloss effect.
How we test
To find the best photo printers, in addition to image quality, we factor in criteria such as speed, price, maintenance costs, and any unique features that help them one-up the competition. With their moving parts, we also look at durability.
Our selections are based on our long- and short-term testing; experience with earlier models; familiarity with the companies’ technologies; consultation with industry experts, fellow journalists, and users; online forums; lab results; and other third-party reviews. Our lead printer reviewer has racked up 30 years of experience in testing and reviewing printers. We also look across the board – not just our own experiences – to find consensus on what we think are the best-performing inkjet printers you can currently buy. We also look at list pricing to determine if a product is worth the cost, product availability, and future proofing qualities. We will even recommend printers that aren’t new, provided it’s still for sale, the features are still best-in-class, and it’s supported by the manufacturer.
The printer market, however, evolves constantly, with manufacturers either introducing better models with new features, or basic upgrades. So, you can expect our picks to change – and change quickly. But don’t worry: The models you see here will be with you for some time, and if we anticipate there could be better models in the horizon, we will state that upfront to help you decide whether you should buy now or wait.
Which printer is right for you?
What should you look for in an inkjet printer? That depends on what your needs are. If you want to frame a large print to put on a wall, you may want to consider a single-function, wide-format inkjet printer. If you need a device that can print both photos and documents, a multifunction inkjet printer could be a better fit. If you want to a lot of copies, and do it fast, you may want to invest in a workhorse machine that excels in speed.
For more on what to look for in a printer, check out our Home Printer Buying Guide
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