From crisp black text to brilliant photos, we’ve got the inkjet and laser printers that can do it all
The problem with definitively choosing the best printer on the market is that there are so many things to consider. Is it best to go with an inkjet or laser printer? Cartridges or refillable tanks? Do you need a multifunction printer (MFP) that also scans and copies, or are you after something that just prints? When similar-looking printers cost anywhere between £30 and £300, how much do you need to spend?
Yet a printer remains essential, whether for business or the home. That’s why we’ve pulled together a new roundup covering the best printers from the leading brands, so you will know which model will be the best fit for your specific needs.
These recommendations come from years of reviewing printers, and hundreds of hours of rigorous hands-on testing and research, so we know what we’re talking about. Look below and you will find guidance on everything from the different types of printer to the major functions and features, to help you work out what you need and what you’re not prepared to pay the extra for.
Best printer: At a glance
|Best home printer
|Canon Pixma TS205 (~£57)
|Check price at Amazon
|Best all-in-one printer
|Canon Pixma TS3450 (~£50)
|Check price at Amazon
|Best photo printer
|Canon Pixma TS8350 (~£234)
|Check price at Amazon
|Best office all in one printer
|HP OfficeJet Pro 9022e (~£230)
|Check price at Amazon
|Best laser printer:
|HP Color LaserJet Pro M255dw (~£360)
|Check price at John Lewis
How to choose the best printer for you
What’s the difference between laser and inkjet printers?
Inkjets create prints by placing thousands of tiny dots over every inch of the page. Printers with higher resolutions – measured in dots per inch (dpi) – can place more dots on the page.
As their print heads usually need to move about to cover the page, inkjet printers tend to be slower than lasers. Also, because the ink takes a second or two to dry, they might be slower still when duplex (double-sided) printing.
Laser printers work by negatively charging a light-sensitive surface called an optical photoconductor (OPC) drum. A laser then “draws” an image of the page to be printed onto the surface of the drum, discharging the areas it hits.
Negatively charged toner is then released on to the surface of the drum. This is attracted to the discharged areas drawn by the laser and repelled by the negatively charged background. A positively charged sheet of paper is passed over the drum, and the toner is transferred. This process occurs on all four drums – for cyan, magenta, yellow and black – to make up the final colour image. Finally, the paper is heated by a fuser, which melts the toner to the page.
A laser printer used to be the only option for fast, high-quality document printing, but in the last few years, office-focused inkjets have started running them close for speed and quality. Despite popular belief, inkjets are often cheaper to run than their laser equivalents, too. But inkjets can suffer from blocked nozzles if you don’t use them often and flushing them out wastes ink: if you tend to go weeks without printing, you’re still better off with a laser printer.
If you plan to do lots of printing, opt for a device with a high duty cycle figure. This represents a one-time maximum number of prints a device can produce if you really push it, rather than the number of pages it can print regularly, so always pick a printer with a duty cycle that exceeds your requirements. Some manufacturers also quote a recommended duty cycle figure, which is useful to know if you’ll be putting your printer to heavy use and don’t want to wear it out quickly.
READ NEXT: Best 3D printers
Does high print resolution mean better quality?
In general, the higher the resolution, the sharper the print, but other factors influence the final result. With inkjet printers, a smaller droplet size helps avoid grain – tiny dots of colour that might otherwise be visible in lighter areas of a graphic or photo. Some photo inkjets use extra colours to reduce grain further or to improve neutral shades or the colour range (gamut) in photos. Inkjets are quite sensitive to paper quality – you will get better documents if you avoid lightweight papers and dramatically better photos on coated photo paper.
With laser printers, it’s more typically true that high resolution (1,200dpi or more) looks better. You’re most likely to notice it as improved graphics and smoother outlines to text – the latter can look jagged at the 600dpi resolution typical of entry-level models, but only if you have very sharp eyes. Note that a laser’s quoted resolution may be the product of interpolation, rather than the print engine’s native or “true” resolution. An interpolated resolution of, say, 1,200dpi is likely to look better than a 600dpi print, but not as good as a true 1,200dpi print.
In practice, you can’t always predict print quality from a printer’s specifications. Our reviews tell you how good a printer’s output is across a range of tests, and highlight the kind of strengths and weaknesses you can only spot from hands-on comparisons.
Do I need an all-in-one printer?
All-in-one printers (or multifunction/MFP printers as they’re also called) have several advantages over a separate printer and scanner. They’re great if you’re short of space, and you can use them to make photocopies without your PC. You can usually scan and copy directly from the MFP’s control panel, although these interfaces vary in how easy they are to use. Our reviews tell you what a printer’s built-in control panel is like to use for basic tasks. If we don’t mention it, it’s fine.
The scanners in office-orientated MFPs can be disappointing – they’re usually fine for archiving paperwork at low resolution, but they won’t necessarily be ideal for creating a permanent digital copy of your favourite slides or photos. The scanners in home-focused devices usually do a little better, but there are good and bad examples of each. We explain the strengths and weaknesses of scanners, and their software, in our reviews.
If you’re likely to scan, fax or copy multi-page documents, look for an automatic document feeder (ADF), which will help you do it automatically. If you’re doing a lot of office work, a duplexing ADF will help if you work with double-sided originals. The best MFP scanners will do a great job of capturing old photos, but if you want to scan slides or negatives, you’ll need a dedicated scanner.
How do print speeds vary?
Print speeds vary greatly between models. Very generally, inkjets are quicker to start printing, whereas lasers are faster once they get going. We test how many pages per minute (ppm) a device reaches when printing a 25-page text document, as well as a complicated 24-page colour document that contains a mix of text and graphics. We also measure how long each printer takes to produce a page from sleep. On shorter jobs, a fast warm-up is more important than the quoted speed.
How do I connect my printer?
Almost all printers and MFPs can work over a USB connection to a single PC, but these days most can also connect to your wireless network. Office printers may have a wired Ethernet port. Whatever the method, a network connection lets you share a printer among multiple PCs or other devices in your home or office. Almost all network-capable printers now support direct printing from iOS (iPhone, iPad) and Android devices, or indirect printing via cloud services such as Google Cloud Print. Some printers additionally use NFC technology to help you connect a smart device – it’s most useful for visitors to an office environment who may not have access to the core network.
Some printers and MFPs have additional ports, such as a front USB slot for printing from or scanning to an inserted USB stick. Home devices with a creative bias may have a memory card slot for direct photo prints – it’s a handy feature, but you’ll get more control printing from a PC.
Print and scanning software makes a big difference to what a printer or MFP is like to use. We test each device on a PC and at least one mobile platform (Android, iOS), and we will mention any connectivity or usability issues.
What about ink and toner cartridges?
Inkjet printers typically need frequent ink cartridges, and they may need an occasional waste ink box replacement – or possibly a new print head. Laser printers can be similarly straightforward, but the most complex models can use up to ten or more consumables.
The simplest lasers use one (mono) or four (colour) toner cartridges with an integrated OPC drum. These make the printer easy to maintain, but they can result in high print costs. The absence of other user-serviceable parts can also limit your printer’s lifespan. Other laser printers have separate OPC drums, waste toner bottles and even fuser units, which can produce a lot of hidden costs even if the toner cartridges are cheap.
The prices and lifespans of these parts vary widely, but if you do enough printing they’ll all have to be replaced. We always include every relevant consumable when working out print costs. To calculate the cost per page, we find the best price for each printer’s best-value toner or ink cartridge and divide it by the rated number of pages. If it’s unlikely that you’ll need to replace, say, a fuser unit rated at 100,000 pages, we’ll mention this in the review.
READ NEXT: Best monitors to buy
How we test printers
Expert Reviews puts its printers through an exhaustive series of hands-on tests, which allows us to compare and contrast every model we review.
We start with a series of timed tests, using a standard letter, a business presentation and a series of colour photographs. We record how long it takes the printer to produce the first page of the mono letter, and then how long it takes to print 25 pages at its standard quality settings. For the business presentation, we time colour output at standard settings, and the photo tests are run at the printer’s highest quality.
We also use the output of these tests to compare the quality of the prints, examining the way they look to the naked eye, then scrutinising them in detail through a magnifying glass. Letters and business documents are printed on standard copier paper, while photos are printed on glossy photo paper.
We keep a library of prints so that we can go back and compare print quality to previous reviews.
If the printer can also scan, copy, and print on both sides automatically, we test those functions, testing for both speed and the quality of the finished print.
Finally, we work out how much it will cost, on average, to print pages in mono and colour. This lets us compare the running cost of each printer so you know you’re not getting ripped off by buying a cheap printer with pricey consumables.
READ NEXT: How to fix a dry inkjet printer cartridge
The best printers you can buy in 2024
1. Canon Pixma TS205: The best home printer
Price when reviewed: £57 | Check price at Amazon
The Pixma TS205 is one of the cheapest printers you can buy, and when you look at what it’s missing – no Wi-Fi, no scanner, no cloud or smartphone-friendly features – it’s really not hard to see why. All you get is a compact inkjet printer that connects via USB, printing black text pages at a slow-ish 7.5ppm, and pages with colour graphics at a painful 1.6ppm. To make things worse, it’s noisy while doing so.
However, that doesn’t mean the TS205 doesn’t have its plus points. It works perfectly well for basic, low-volume home printing and ink costs are lower than for some more expensive printers. Most importantly, print quality is surprisingly good, with bold, punchy graphics, crisp black text and even decent-looking photos – despite a slightly warm colour bias. It’s both capable and cheap as chips.
Read our full Canon Pixma TS205 review for more details
Key specs – Technology: Thermal inkjet; Maximum print resolution: 4,800 x 1,200dpi; Scan specifications: N/A; Recommended monthly duty cycle: N/S; Dimensions (HWD): 255 x 426 x 131mm; Weight: 2.5kg; Maximum paper size: A4/legal
2. Canon Pixma TS3450: Best all-in-one printer
Price when reviewed: £47 | Check price at Amazon
If you’re looking for one of the most affordable multifunction printers around, the Canon Pixma TS3450 is a great option. Despite costing less than most basic printers, it comes with a flatbed scanner on the top for both scanning and copying duties. Print quality is great for the price, but you don’t get top-end features such as automatic duplex printing.
What’s even better is that Canon isn’t looking to trick you into buying a cheap printer with cripplingly expensive refill costs. At the time of writing, mono prints worked out to around 3p per page, while colour prints cost just over 6p per page. For the occasional user, that makes it exceptionally good value for money, with little to pay up-front and reasonably priced consumables.
Read our full Canon Pixma TS3450 review for more details
Key specs – Technology: Thermal inkjet; Maximum print resolution: 4,800 x 1,200dpi; Scan specifications: 600 x 1,200dpi; Recommended monthly duty cycle: N/S; Dimensions (HWD): 145 x 435 x 327mm; Weight: 4kg; Maximum paper size: A4/legal
3. Canon Pixma G650: The best printer for cheap photo printing
Price when reviewed: £259 | Check price at Jessops
The Canon Pixma G650 takes all the great things about ink tank printers and throws in the ability to print decent photos. On photo paper, at the highest settings, the photos printed by the G650 are almost as good as you’d get from the best cartridge-based models.
And with refillable ink tanks running costs are far lower, with A4 mono prints only costing 0.4p each and colour pages costing 1p.
The G650 is a bit on the slow side but, if you can live with that, its combination of low running costs and great print quality is hard to beat.
Read our full Canon Pixma G650 review for more details
Key specs – Technology: Thermal inkjet; Maximum print resolution: 4,800 x 1,200dpi; Scan specifications: 600 x 1,200dpi; Recommended monthly duty cycle: not stated; Dimensions (WHD): 445 x 167 x 340mm; Weight: 6.6kg; Maximum paper size: A4/legal
4. Brother DCP-J1200W: The best printer under £150
Price when reviewed: £130 | Check price at Amazon
Brother has performed a small miracle with the DCP-J1200W. Not only does it cost less than £100 to buy but you won’t get stung by replacement ink prices, either. Brother’s cartridges last for 750 pages, and cost 3p per page for mono and 6.2p per page for colour prints. This won’t worry even cheaper-to-run ink-tank printers but it’s an attractive price for an multifunction printer that’s so affordable to buy.
To further sweeten the deal, the printer is surprisingly well equipped. It doesn’t have a snazzy touchscreen of its own but a handy smartphone app helps you control all manner of scanning and copying functions. Print quality is decent, too.
Read our full Brother DCP-J1200W
Key specs – Technology: Inkjet; Maximum print resolution: 6,000 x 1,200dpi; Scan specifications: 1,200 x 2,400dpi; Recommended monthly duty cycle: 50-1,000 pages; Dimensions (HWD): 161 x 435 x 359mm; Weight: 6.5kg; Maximum paper size: A4/legal
5. Canon Maxify GX5050: The best ink tank printer for the office
Price when reviewed: £360 | Check price at Amazon
Ink tank printers were originally aimed at home consumers, but the Canon Pixma GX5050 is a different proposition. Clearly targeted at small offices, this isn’t just about the smart white styling – it also has a range of features that make it more office-friendly, including its voluminous 250-sheet paper tray and automatic double-sided printing. What it doesn’t have is a scanner, so you can’t use it as a standalone device to make copies or scan documents.
However, it is one of the cheapest printers to run that we’ve ever reviewed, able to print up to 30,000 pages with the ink supplied in the box, and pages costing around 0.2p each, whether printing in mono or colour. The downside to this is that the resolution isn’t as high and the ink isn’t as bright and vibrant as on consumer models, where decent photo printing is a higher priority.
For volume printing in a busy small office, however, the Maxify GX5050 is cost-effective to run, with all the features you need.
Read our full Canon Maxify GX5050 review
Key specs – Technology: Thermal inkjet; Maximum print resolution: 600 x 1,200dpi; Scan specifications: N/A; Recommended monthly duty cycle: 45,000 pages; Dimensions (HWD): 238 x 399 x 416mm; Weight: 9kg; Maximum paper size: A4/legal
6. Epson EcoTank ET-1810: The best budget ink-tank printer
Price when reviewed: £176 | Check price at Amazon
Ink tank printers offer voluminous ink capacity and microscopic printing costs but can be expensive to buy. The Epson EcoTank ET-1810 addresses this problem by whittling away the fancy extras that help justify the cost of more expensive models, including core MFP features such as scanning and copying. What’s left behind is a more affordable ink tank printer that’s just as good at printing as more expensive models.
There’s no compromise on printing costs, which remain at the base ink tank standard of 0.2p per page for mono printing and 0.4p per page for colour. It also comes with enough ink in the box to print 3,600 mono pages and 6,500 colour.
While the price of the printer is still a little higher than cheaper cartridge-based models, it’s great value for money if you’re looking for low printing costs above all else.
Read our full Epson EcoTank ET-1810 review
Key specs – Technology: Piezo inkjet; Maximum print resolution: 5,760 x 1,440dpi; Scan specifications: N/A; Recommended monthly duty cycle: N/S; Dimensions (HWD): 169 x 375 x 347mm; Weight: 2.9kg; Maximum paper size: A4/legal
7. Canon Pixma TS8350: The best inkjet printer for photos
Price when reviewed: £166 | Check price at Amazon
Canon’s high-end Pixma printer is the versatile home printer to beat, not only because it’s a surprisingly stylish MFP, but because both its speeds and print quality are so good. It’ll reach speeds of over 15ppm in black-and-white and over 5ppm in colour, and output 10 x 8in photo prints in under 30 seconds. It’s just as speedy with its scanning and copying functions too.
Meanwhile, print quality is excellent across the board, with text that wouldn’t disgrace an office laser printer and some of the best quality photo prints we’ve seen outside a specialist photo printer. Business graphics can be dark, with the ink saturating the paper, but nothing too disastrous, while printed illustrations look fantastic. With rock-solid wireless connectivity and a practical approach to paper handling, the only problem here is high running costs, but if you’re not printing large amounts of colour documents and photos, this is one of the best printers around.
Read our full Canon Pixma TS8350 review
Key specs – Technology: Thermal inkjet; Maximum print resolution: 4,800 x 1,200dpi; Scan specifications: 2,400 x 4,800dpi (24-bit); Recommended monthly duty cycle: N/S; Dimensions (HWD): 141 x 373 x 319mm; Weight: 6.6kg; Maximum paper size: A4/legal
8. Epson EcoTank ET-2850: The best inkjet printer for low running costs
Price when reviewed: £234 | Check price at John Lewis
If you’re looking for an ink-tank printer, you’re probably on the hunt for low running costs, minimal fuss and plenty of useful features. The Epson EcoTank ET-2850 ticks all these boxes, with running costs as low as inkjet printing gets.
It sits in around the middle of Epson’s ink tank printer range, and so sheds a few specialist extras, such as the ability to send faxes and an automatic sheet feeder for the copier function. However, this keeps the overall price down to a reasonable level. Epson has focused the printer on the core features, and you still get automatic duplex printing for the money.
It’s the running costs that are the headline event, though. Epson provides enough ink in the box to print 14,000 mono and 5,200 colour pages and, once you’re through that, it doesn’t cost much to print more. Replacement ink comes in refill bottles and mono pages work out at a cost of 0.2p each and colour prints cost 0.4p.
Read our full Epson EcoTank ET-2850 review
Key specs – Technology: Piezo inkjet; Maximum print resolution: 5,760 x 1,440dpi; Scan specifications: 1,200 x 2,400dpi; Recommended monthly duty cycle: N/S; Dimensions (HWD): 187 x 375 x 347mm; Weight: 5.4kg; Maximum paper size: A4/legal
9. Brother MFC-J4540DW: The best MFP for maximum features
Price when reviewed: £208 | Check price at Amazon
The Brother MFC-J4540FW is an office printer with all the trimmings, yet is available for a very reasonable price. It’s a true all-in-one, with the usual trio of printer, scanner and copier functions, but includes fax capabilities for good measure.
It connects to your network using Wi-Fi or Ethernet, and can be stacked up with 350 sheets of paper across two paper trays. The printer produces two-sided prints automatically to save on paper and the top-mounted automated sheet feeder makes short work of copying jobs.
It’s an inkjet printer that uses cartridges for convenience but its running costs are comparatively low. Once you’ve consumed the 3,000 pages worth of mono prints and 1,500 pages of colour that come in the box, replacement cartridges work out at 0.7p per mono page and 2.7p per colour page. Typically, this is only bettered by tank-based printers, which tend to cost significantly more to buy.
Read our full Brother MFC-J4540DW review
Key specs – Technology: Inkjet; Maximum print resolution: 1,200 x 4,800dpi; Scan specifications: 1,200 x 2,400dpi; Recommended monthly duty cycle: 30,000 pages; Dimensions (HWD): 250 x 435 x 335mm; Weight: 10.4kg; Maximum paper size: A4/legal
10. HP OfficeJet Pro 9022e: The best office MFP for high-speed printing
Price when reviewed: £230 | Check price at Amazon
If you work your printer hard and produce a lot of printed documents, you might also spend a lot of time waiting for them to appear. The HP OfficeJet Pro 9022e inkjet aims to make this wait a thing of the past, producing mono text documents at a blistering 20.5ppm.
It’s so fast it’s faster than some laser printers and while mixed colour and mono documents are produced at a more sedate 8.5pp it’s still significantly faster than most inkjets.
The printer is easy to connect to Wi-Fi or Ethernet for sharing around the home or office, and uses the HP Smart app, so you can print and scan from any device with ease. It has two 250-sheet paper trays, so you can stock it up with plenty of paper.
A nice bonus is that the printer also comes with a free six-month subscription to HP’s Instant Ink service, which sends replacement ink cartridges to you in the post, so they’re ready and waiting when the printer runs dry. Printing costs after this are competitive, particularly if you print a lot.
Read the full HP OfficeJet Pro 9022e review
Key specs – Technology: Thermal inkjet; Maximum print resolution: 4,800 x 1,200dpi; Scan specifications: 1,200 x 1,200dpi; Recommended monthly duty cycle: 30,000 pages; Dimensions (HWD): 318 x 437 x 396mm; Weight: 11.66kg; Maximum paper size: A4/legal
11. HP Color LaserJet Pro M255dw: The best home office colour laser printer
Price when reviewed: £360 | Check price at John Lewis
For those looking for a smaller colour laser printer, suitable for a small or home office, there’s the HP Color LaserJet Pro M255dw. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles you would expect from a printer designed for a large-scale office, but it doesn’t scrimp on the essentials.
With a 250-sheet paper tray and an output tray that holds up to 100 sheets, it doesn’t need constant attention and, should you need to take control, all its functions can be accessed through a 2.7in smooth-scrolling colour touchscreen.
Its black and white prints are excellent with sharp, crisp text that can take close examination. These prints cost 2.6p each and are churned out at a rapid 17 pages per minute. However, colour prints are slower to produce, at 9.3 pages per minute, pricey at 13.5p each and quality is okay rather than amazing. If you’re expecting to print lots of photos rather than the occasional bit of spot colour or report-style graphics and charts, consider an inkjet instead.
Read our full HP Color LaserJet Pro M255dw
Key specs – Technology: Laser; Maximum print resolution: 600 x 600dpi; Scan specifications: N/A; Recommended monthly duty cycle: 40,000 pages per month; Dimensions (HWD): 297 x 392 x 297mm; Weight: 14.8kg; Maximum paper size: A4/legal
12. Brother MFC-J6955DW: The best inkjet MFP for larger offices
Price when reviewed: £414 | Check price at Cartridge People
Offices with more than a handful of staff need a printer that can cope with the increased volume of work. Laser printers are usually the first choice, but they don’t have to be, with the Brother MFC-J6955DW proving that inkjet printers have small office potential.
This printer/copier/scanner/fax can perform all its functions up to A3 size. This makes for a large device, with the A3 scanner bed needing a significant footprint that’s larger than most standard printers. It’s space well used, though, with plenty of room given over to paper storage, so you don’t have to keep refilling it.
It’s also a speedy printer, being both quick off the blocks and capable of churning out reams of pages. It prints at a cost-efficient 1.2p per mono A4 page and 3.2p per colour A4 page, which isn’t as cheap as rivals with ink tanks, but still provides decent value running costs.
Read our full Brother MFC-J6955DW review
Key specs – Technology: Inkjet; Maximum print resolution: 1,200 x 4,800dpi; Scan specifications: 1,200 x 2,400dpi; Recommended monthly duty cycle: 3,500 pages; Dimensions (HWD): 375 x 576 x 477mm; Weight: 24kg; Maximum paper size: A3
13. Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000: The best A3 photo printer
Price when reviewed: £308 | Check price at Currys
If you need to go bigger with your photos than an A4 print, step up to the Expression Photo HD XP-15000. With a six-colour, 5,660 x 1,440dpi print system and Claria Photo HD prints, it’ll print sensationally sharp and detailed photos with perfect skin tones and precise shade control, along with high-contrast monochrome stills. Black text and colour graphics lack the punch you’d get from the best office printers, but none of them are going to give you such great photo prints – and particularly not at A3+ sizes.
Needless to say, it’s not especially quick, though photo printing speeds remain competitive, and costs are as high as you’d expect from a specialist photo printer. You also have to live without scan or copy features. Still, to get a printer this compact and this inexpensive that delivers such high-quality results is quite extraordinary. Keen photographers need look no further.
Read our full Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000 review
Key specs – Technology: Thermal inkjet; Maximum print resolution: 5,660 x 1,440dpi; Scan specifications: N/A; Recommended monthly duty cycle: N/S; Dimensions (HWD): 159 x 479 x 370mm; Weight: 8.5kg; Maximum paper size: A3+
14. Epson EcoTank ET-8550: The best A3 printer that doesn’t cost the earth to run
Price when reviewed: £730 | Check price at John Lewis
Although it’s expensive to buy, the Epson EcoTank ET-8550 is a very cost effective printer, particularly if you’re looking to print a lot of A3 photos. It’s a six-ink, multifunction printer that uses Epson’s EcoTank ink system, which stores ink in large reservoirs. These can hold enough ink to print thousands of photos and are replenished from affordable 70ml bottles.
This allows Epson to whittle down the cost of photo printing, with 6x4in colour photos costing just 3.4p each. Unlike other photo printers, it’s also a good all-rounder, more than capable of taking on regular printing jobs. It doesn’t have the sharpest output at standard settings but with black text documents working out to 0.2p each, it’s as good value as four-colour ink tank models.
In summary, then, it’s expensive – and you should only consider it if you intend on printing loads of big photos – but it’s a superb all-rounder.
Read our full Epson EcoTank ET-8550 review
Key specs – Technology: Thermal inkjet; Maximum print resolution: 5,760 x 1,440dpi; Scan specifications: 1,200 x 4,800dpi; Recommended monthly duty cycle: N/S; Dimensions (HWD): 169 x 523 x 379mm; Weight: 11.1kg; Maximum paper size: A3+