Most home offices have very different printing needs and budgets than larger offices. For the most part, color printing is not something you’ll probably use a lot, but if you need it for a flyer, poster, or proposal, it better be there!
You can buy a basic printer for as little as $40 at many big box stores or even the local supermarket. If you only print a few pages a month, one of these models may be best—and they’re cheap enough to toss if they break. On the downside, when you run out of ink on a forty-buck special, it might cost you nearly the same amount to buy ink refills.
For the modest printing needs of the typical home office, here are some printer models from some of the major vendors. When considering which might be appropriate, look at the price, the capacity of ink cartridges or toner, and the suggested monthly number of prints. The monthly duty cycle may well be several times this recommended amount, but if you continually churn out that amount, you can expect your printer to have a very short lifetime.
Also, consider the cost per page of the printer or All-in-One. This is less important if you print only a small volume of pages per month, but in the under $250 market, higher volume inkjets may be less expensive in the long run if you print a lot every month. Another thing to consider is that the ink in inkjet printers may dry up in the printhead if you don’t print anything for weeks. Laser printers don’t have this problem. For mobile printing from your phone or tablet, all the printers we selected (other than the HP Tango X) offer Apple AirPrint and Google Cloud Print capability. The Tango X offers mobile printing using HP’s Smart App, available for iOS and Android.
If you need more than just printing capability, consider an All-in-One device. These offer a scanner as well as a printer, so you can scan, copy, and (on some models) send and receive faxes. We’ve taken a look at a lot of printers and All-in-Ones, and here are our picks, all of which are priced at $250 or less.
Best Overall Home Office Printer: Brother HLL3210CW Compact Digital Color Printer [$180]
Sometimes, you don’t need a gadget that can scan, copy, and make great french fries—all you need is a nice color printer. The Brother HLL3210CW might just fit the bill. This compact color printer spits out prints at a fast, 19 pages per minute in both monochrome and color. It also uses high-yield toner cartridges to keep the cost of printing low. As with many lower-priced printers, you do have to compromise on some features. In this case, it’s duplex (two-sided) printing, but for many home offices, this won’t be a problem.
The HLL3210CW is a good, no-frills device, and if you print more than just a few pages a month, you’ll appreciate the large, 250-sheet capacity input paper tray. The starter cartridges that come packed with the printer will give you about 1,000 pages of printing, and the drum unit is good for 18,000 pages, so you won’t have to replace it for quite a while.
Don’t mistake the HLL3210CW for a laser printer. It uses LED, rather than laser technology, which is why the print speed is the same for monochrome or color. The LED mechanism also requires fewer parts than an equivalent laser printer, so it should prove very reliable.
Brother gives the Maximum Monthly Duty Cycle up to 30,000 pages. The recommended Monthly Print Volume of 1,500 pages is more realistic. That’s three reams of paper, so you can churn out reports, financial statements, ledgers, and invoices to your heart’s content.
Best Economical Inkjet All-in-One for Volume Printing: Epson Expression ET-2750 EcoTank Supertank All-in-One [$250]
Epson was one of the first vendors in the U.S. to offer ink tank printers. The EcoTank printers use a refillable ink tank rather than replaceable cartridges. Epson packs in bottles of the four ink colors. When you run low on a particular ink, you just uncap the bottle and squeeze more into the tank. The bottles and receptacles are keyed, so you can’t inadvertently put the wrong color into a tank. The bottles are also designed not to leak as you refill.
The ET2750 offers print, scan, and copy capabilities, but lacks the faxing option you might find on other machines at this price point. On the plus side, Epson claims that the included bottles of ink will provide many users with two years of printing, or up to 6,500 black pages and 5,200 color pages. That’s more than a case of paper.
When it’s time to replace the bottles, you won’t get hit with sticker shock. Replacement bottles cost $20 for black and $13 for each color.
Connecting the ET-2750 is easy, and the All-in-One offers Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, and USB with mobile apps, including AirPrint and Google Cloud Print. Epson also has its own mobile print app, so you can print from most mobile devices, from anywhere.
The ET-2750 isn’t the fastest printer. It can do 10.5 pages per minute in black or 5 pages per minute in color, but it does offer duplex printing and a 100-sheet paper tray. It does not have an automatic document feeder (ADF), which may make it unsuitable if you frequently have to scan or copy long documents.
Best Budget All-in-One: HP LaserJet Pro MFP M29w [$130]
Laser printers are still very viable choices for home office use, especially when they are priced as attractively as the HP LaserJet Pro MFP M29w. The M29w is an All-in-One (AiO) device, which means that it not only prints but also scans and copies. You do sacrifice color and two-sided duplex printing at this price, but in return, you get an AiO that’s very small for a laser printer. It measures only 14.2 x 10.4 x 7.8 inches, which means you can put it practically anywhere. It also prints at a fast, 19 pages per minute. As with most HP printers, the Smart app allows you to print from a smartphone or tablet easily, and the printer connects via Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, and USB.
As with most small office laser printers from HP, the M29w uses a toner cartridge that also includes the photoconductor drum, so you can just pop in the cartridge and start printing. Replacement cartridges cost about $50 from HP, less if you use third-party cartridges (about $35), and they can print about two reams of paper or 1,000 pages. HP’s recommended monthly volume ranges from 100 to 1,000 pages.
There is one thing to consider if you have a lot of multipage scans or copies to make. The M29w doesn’t have an automatic document feeder (ADF), so you have to place every document you’re scanning or copying face down on the glass platen. If this is a situation you face frequently, another model may be a better choice.
Best Stylish Office Printer for your Living Room: HP Tango X [$200]
Is your home office a coffee table in the living room or the kitchen table? Does your printer need to serve the needs of the entire family? If so, you certainly don’t want a big clunky machine sitting around, and HP has just the printer for you. When the wrap-around cover on the Tango X printer is closed, it looks more like an oversized coffee table book, so it fits in pretty much anywhere. The printer itself is available in two color combinations—Dark Gray Pearl or Light Gray Pearl, with three cover options: Charcoal or Indigo linen, or the Cork and Currant cover on the Signature model. If you want the printer without the cover, you can purchase the Tango for about $50 less.
HP calls the Tango X the “world’s first smart home printer.” It has almost no visible controls and has lighting effects to show you where to load paper and the status of the printer. Using the Tango X couldn’t be simpler. Open the top cover, drop in up to 50 sheets of paper, and print. The fold-out cover acts as the output tray, so your printed pages don’t exit the printer and wind up on the floor.
For simplicity’s sake, the Tango X has only a Wi-Fi interface (no USB or Ethernet), and setup is one of the fastest and easiest we’ve encountered. The HP Smart software lets you print to the Tango X from anywhere you have access to the Internet, and also offers voice control through Alexa, Cortana, or Google Assistant. The app is available for iOS, Android, and Windows, so it’s simple to print, scan, or copy from any device you and your family might have. It does not, however, support AirPrint or Google Cloud Print. The Tango X is compatible with HP’s Instant Ink program, which can save you money on ink—especially if you have a good idea of your estimated monthly printer usage. If you enroll in the program, you can also print photos up to 5 x 7 inches from your phone for free.
Best Monochrome Laser Printer: Brother MFC-L2710DW ($190)
When you really need to crank out pages and don’t care if a printer can produce color prints, the Brother MFC-L2710DW is a great choice. It can produce up to 32 pages per minute, and the 250-sheet paper drawer means there’s less need to refill during a long print or copy job. The MFC-L2710DW is a four-function, All-in-One. It provides print, copy, scan, and fax capabilities, as well as duplex printing so you can print on both sides of a sheet of paper. There’s also a single-sheet feeder for heavier media, such as card stock or envelopes.
If you frequently have to print long reports or scan or copy multiple pages, you’ll appreciate the 50-sheet automatic document feeder. As for mobile printing from your phone or tablet, the MFC-L2710DW supports Apple AirPlay, Google Cloud Print, and Brother’s own mobile print applications.
Connecting the MFC-L2710DW is easy. You have your choice of USB, Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, or Ethernet, so you should be able to locate your AiO from anywhere.