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, 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
- The best inkjet photo printer: Epson SureColor P400
- The best all-in-one inkjet printer: Canon Pixma TR8520
- The best office inkjet printer: HP PageWide Pro 577dw
- The best budget printer: Epson Expression Premium XP-6100
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.
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.
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. Welcome 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.
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-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: Epson Expression Premium XP-6100 inkjet printer
Why we picked the Epson Expression Premium XP-6100 inkjet printer:
Epson is known for great printers and the $150 ($80 when on sale) Expression Premium XP-6100 is no exception. This three-in-one can print very quickly and can handle both envelopes, as well as glossy paper for photos. It even features a 2.4-inch color LCD panel, and an SD card reader, which makes copying and scanning documents easy.
Printing quality is also great, supporting up to 5760 x 1440 dpi resolution. Five economical Claria Premium ink cartridges included in the price. These can provide up to a 250-page yield in black, and up to a 300-page yield in color. An optional 302XL Claria Premium cartridges double that to a 550-page yield in black and up to 650-page yield in color.
The Epson Expression Premium XP-6100 can connect with Wi-Fi Direct, Apple AirPrint or high-speed USB cable as you need, and the tray can hold 100 sheets of normal paper. Performances clocks in around 15 ppm in black and 11.3 ppm in color. Epson also claims that the XP-6100 can print out a 4 x 6 high-quality photo in as little as 15 seconds.
Research and buying tips
- What is an inkjet printer?
- What the advantages and disadvantages of an inkjet printer?
- Which printer has the cheapest ink?
- Which printer brand is the best?
- Which is better, inkjet or laser printers?
- Is it cheaper to buy a new printer than keep buying ink for my old 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.
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.
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 vs. 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.
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.
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.
This depends on the price of the printer you are thinking about, the price of your current cartridges, and the page yield of your current printer cartridges. For example, if the page yield of your black cartridge was 150 pages, and you print 200 pages per month with black ink, then you go through 16 cartridges a year. If those cartridges cost $15 to replace, that’s a yearly cost of $240. You could probably find a new printer with better performance or more efficient ink for a year or two of ink costs.
However, this depends on printing a lot of pages, all the time. Most home printers these days don’t see that much action, so ink costs aren’t as important a factor as they once were.
For more on what to look for in a printer, check out our Home Printer Buying Guide.
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