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The best inkjet printers for 2020

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.

After reviewing dozens of inkjet printers from across the market, we’re ready to make a few recommendations for the top spot. The best inkjet printer is the Canon Maxify MB420, but we also have a few other favorites you should take a look at.

The best inkjet printers at a glance

The best overall inkjet printer: Canon Maxify MB5420

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, with high-yield ink cartridges that will last longer.

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.

The best inkjet photo printer: Epson SureColor P400

Epson Surecolor P400 review
Ted Needleman/Digital Trends

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 who 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, although the Epson mobile app can easily handle everything.

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.

The best all-in-one inkjet printer: Canon Pixma TR8520

Why we picked the Canon Pixma TR8520:

Despite its size, this Pixma model can handle an amazing amount of tasks. It can fax, print wireless, fax, scan, print business cards, print photos, copy, and print double-sided on demand. Pixma features like a large 4.3-inch touchscreen and memory card slot are also welcome features. You can connect devices wirelessly via Bluetooth or a number of Wi-Fi Direct services, including AirPrint and Google Cloud Print.

The printer offers a five-ink printing system with options for both front and rear loading, plus a 20-sheet ADF. If you need a 4-in-1 printer for a home office or similar setup, we highly recommend this model, especially at this price! However, note that you will need to plug in a telephone cable for fax capabilities even while the internet connection is wireless, which may limit where you can put this printer. Fortunately, the compact size helps this Pixma fit in all kinds of places.

The best office inkjet printer: HP PageWide Pro 577dw

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% 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-white; 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.

The best budget inkjet printer: HP Deskjet 3755

HP DeskJet 3755 review
HP

Why we picked the HP Deskjet 3755:

This compact all-in-one printer combines affordability with an impressive feature set, high-resolution printing options, and easy cartridge management (only two cartridges, both fairly affordable). There are both USB 2.0 and Wi-Fi connection options, and a simple set of on-board buttons for manual control. There’s even voice assistant compatibility with Alexa and Google Assistant.

It’s not the fastest printer around at 8ppm for black-and-white pages and 5.5ppm for color, but at this low price, the printer has remarkable image quality, plus great versatility with copying and faxing options included. If your printing needs are simple, you don’t need to spend a lot for a bulky or powerful printer when something like this Deskjet is already a perfect fit. It’s rated for around 1,000 pages per month, which should be no problem at all for a home printer.

Research and buying tips

What is an inkjet printer?

An inkjet printer has one of the simplest printer designs, based on spraying fast-drying, wet inks onto paper. The printer is made of a print head that holds various ink cartridges and sprays that ink in tightly controlled patterns based on the printing job. The ink is directed through very tiny nozzles called jets. This ink is usually ionized, which allows it to be easily manipulated by magnetic plates for more accurate direction and control.

What the advantages and disadvantages of an inkjet printer?

The simple design of inkjet printers makes them more affordable than many alternatives, and quite durable. The wet ink is always ready to go, which means start-up times are very quick, and with enough ink colors in the printer it can produce very accurate photo prints. These features all make inkjet printers very popular options for home printers.

However, inkjets have their limitations. Their ink can be expensive and they aren’t very fast printers for large projects. Additionally, inkjet printers depend more on their paper for quality production than other kinds of printers, so you need high-quality, heavier paper for the best results. They may also have restrictions of the kind printers are infamous for — such as only working properly with certified ink cartridges or requiring that all ink cartridges be full before working.

Which printer has the cheapest ink?

Printer ink prices can vary based on things like printer efficiency and ink delivery. Inkjet cartridges, for example, may be cheaper to buy one at a time, but they also run out (or dry out) faster than many other options. Laser printers, on the other hand, use bulkier and more expensive toner cartridges, but these cartridges are very efficient. Over the span of several years — assuming the printers are used equally — laser printers will have cheaper ink options.

If you are comparing only inkjet printers, look for recent printer models from brands famous for the quality, and compare the specs of model versus model to find out more. Canon and Epson printers usually have some of the most efficient ink cartridges.

There are also “remanufactured” cartridges from third parties, but quality can be unreliable with these, and as we mentioned above these recycled cartridges could cause problems with printer operation.

Which printer brand is the best?

We find that Canon and Epson printers tend to be the most durable and have some great feature sets — HP also has some excellent printers, particularly for small businesses. However, it’s always a good idea to compare printer models one-on-one to see what the specifications are and how they differ.

Which is better, inkjet or laser printers?

That depends what you’re working on. Inkjet printers make great choices for homes and small businesses, especially if you aren’t printing many documents (an easy thing, in our age of digital paperwork). The high-end inkjet printers also have great color reproduction and DPI, which makes them good choices for photographers. Laser printers are designed more for offices with large printing needs that will be printing high-volume orders fairly frequently.

Is it cheaper to buy a new printer than keep buying ink for my old printer?

Unfortunately, the answer to this question isn’t a clear-cut yes or no. It usually depends on how many cartridges you go through, how much a new printer will cost you, and how much those cartridges cost. For example, if your current printer’s page yield for one black cartridge is 150 pages and you print out 200 pages per month with black ink, you’d end up using 16 black cartridges each year. If each of those cartridges costs $15, that quickly adds up to $240 per year. Buying a new model that’s more efficient with ink or uses cheaper cartridges could easily save you money in the long run in this scenario. 

However, don’t forget that this scenario assumes that you use your printer a lot; it wouldn’t provide the same benefit for a standard home printer that only sees use every few weeks. For these people, ink prices don’t factor in nearly as much. 

For more on what to look for in a printer, look at our Home Printer Buying Guide.

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