College is filled with online platforms, cloud storage, and class portals to upload or download almost anything you need. Occasionally, students still need to print something out the old-fashioned way, whether it’s a document that needs a manual signature, or a physical photo that’s going to become part of a collage project.
For those occasions, having a printer around is important. Fortunately, we’re printer experts, and our many reviews put us in a great position to recommend light, low-cost printers perfect for dorms or college apartments. Here’s what you need.
HP Tango X
Best smart printer for college
- Very good-looking
- Easy to set up
- No distracting buttons
- Alexa, Google, and Cortana integration
- Free photo printing with HP's Instant Ink program
- No USB or Ethernet (Wi-Fi only)
- Scan/copy functions require smartphone
- No duplex printing
This smart printer is made for today’s mobile life, built for effortless use for casual printing jobs of all kinds. It’s incredibly compact, with a textile-finish wrap that can lay out as a paper output tray or wrap around the printer so you can slide it anywhere safely when it’s not in use. But the best part of the Tango X is how it works with the HP smart app: Snap a photo or scan a document with your phone no matter where you are, and the app can have the printer immediately print it out so it’s waiting for you.
The app can also give you updates on low paper or low ink levels and other helpful information — there’s no onboard touchscreen menu, but you really don’t need one as long as you have a reliable Wi-Fi connection or can use direct connections like AirPrint. Oh, and there’s even voice assistant support for Alexa and Google Assistant so you can give the printer a variety of commands.
Best affordable printer for college
- Extra affordable
- Alexa support
- Photo printing direct from the app
- Measuring grid on top
- Only designed for simple printing projects
If you’re interested in a budget model so you can focus your college funds on what matters most, this Canon printer is probably the cheapest modern printer that you’ll be able to find. And yet it still manages to offer effective printing, Alexa voice controls, and an app that allows you to scan and print from a distance.
Basic onboard controls allow you to quickly set up and start a printing job, but the app and AirPrint work just as well. The top of the printer offers a handy grid that’s useful for fun art projects, too. The printer also works with Canon’s XL ink cartridges, which may be a good choice if you don’t want to worry about ink refills for a long, long time.
Brother INKvestment Tank MFC-J1205W
Best college printer for tracking ink
- Designed to carefully track ink use
- Full suite of connection options
- Up to 16ppm, not bad for printers this size
- Not as space-saving as some of our picks
As the name indicates, this Brother printer is made for great ink management, and while it’s not as compact as some of our other picks, it may be a better choice for more frequent printing needs or a printer that can be shared among a group. The printer specializes in high-capacity ink cartridges designed to last and an app that can carefully monitor how much ink is being used and how much is left.
In addition to the all-in-one printing, scanning, and copying features, the printer sports a 9ppm speed for color and a 16ppm for B&W, not bad for such an affordable printer. It also works with any connection option that you have in mind, including USB, email printing, Wi-Fi Direct options like AirPrint, and the mobile app.
Epson EcoTank ET-4700
Best college printer to save on ink
- Ink tanks made to save ink for frequent printing
- All in one design with 100-sheet tray
- Easy to monitor ink
- Bulkier than our other picks
Some jobs — and classes — require more printing power than others. If you can expect to regularly print out leaflets, classroom materials, or other materials in your college life, you will want a printer that can keep up. This Epson EcoTank model is ready with its all-in-one features, easy panel controls with a color display, and a tray ready for 100 sheets of paper.
But the big draw for this printer is how it handles ink: The EcoTank uses literal tanks of ink instead of cartridges, and includes bottles of ink that you can use to fill up the tanks (easily monitored with built-in gauges) when they start getting low. It’s one of the best ways to save money on printing.
Best all-in-one college printer
- Excellent standard all-in-one printer
- Simple, minimal display
- Multiple app options for different photos and editing before printing
- Not as smart or compact as some of our options
This solid printer keeps costs low by keeping things simple. It’s a no-nonsense all-in-one model that handles printing, scanning, and copying while still staying compact and easy to put away when you are finished. Like some of our other favorite picks, you can take photos with the app and print them directly, but Canon also has additional apps specifically for photos or creative additions that you can try.
We also like the underrated display that shows important printing info at a glance without bothering with confusing menus or unnecessary details. This design really hits the mark for students who need a standard printer but don’t want anything too fancy or too complicated.
Epson Workforce WF-110
Best mobile college printer
- Built-in rechargeable battery for on-the-go printing
- Wi-Fi Direct and Wi-Fi support
- Fits in bags or briefcases for transport
- Needs to be in range of Wi-Fi
Epson’s mobile printer is for those who may want to print out something quick in all kinds of places, from classrooms and study rooms to a bench on campus — thanks to the included rechargeable battery that powers the printer no matter where it is. It works with both Wi-Fi Direct options and Wi-Fi connections, so as long as you are within range of a router, you can print out anything you want. The downside is that the battery-powered design, while handy, comes at a price.
Fujifilm Instax Mini Link
Best party printer for college
- Easy-to-use app
- Motion controls
- Small, minimalist design
- Battery life is less than indicated
If your plans for a printer involve more fun than work, this pocket-sized Fujifilm printer is made for group and art-oriented activities. Pick a photo on your phone or snap a new photo from the app, and the little camera will pop out a 2.4 by 1.8-inch picture to play with. You can add frames, stickers, and other graphics, as well as use a collage mode that helps you plan out your collage before you print.
There are even less serious options, like a matchmaking mode where you upload photos of you and someone else, and the printer will say how compatible it thinks you are (optional questionnaire included). Or you can invite your friends to “party print” random photos that you have no control over just to see what comes out. The motion-based controls are a neat but unnecessary touch, and the battery may drain quickly if you’re printing a lot at a time, but for a gimmicky printer, it’s a surprising amount of fun.
If your budget is a top priority (textbooks don’t pay for themselves, after all), then you may want to take a look at our full guide to the best cheap printers available.
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