- Reviewed on: 23 February 2017
It’s not the most elegant printer we’ve ever come across, but its strong performance, low running costs, and that handy option for A3 printing combine to make the MFC-J5330DW a good workhorse printer that will really earn its keep in any small office.
Read our Brother MFC-J5330DW review.
- Reviewed on: 10 November 2017
The high up-front cost of the ET-3750 might deter many people, and it won’t be suitable for home users with only modest printing needs. But, if you’re working from home or in a small office and you need to produce colour and text documents on a daily basis, then the terrifically low running costs of the ET-3750 will save you a lot of money in the long run.
Read our Epson EcoTank ET-3750 review.
- Reviewed on: 6 June 2018
If you don't need colour and you want a compact printer that'll also scan and copy documents, the HP M28w is ideal. It doesn't have the cheapest running costs, but for a home office or an executive's desk, it offers great performance and ease of use.
Read our LaserJet Pro M28w review.
- Reviewed on: 10 November 2017
The relatively high cost of printing simple text documents is disappointing, but if you’re working from home and need to produce a lot of colour documents, such as presentations and brochures, then the Pixma TR8550 does offer genuinely competitive running costs – as long as you use the larger XL/XXL cartridges. It’s versatile too, and will provide a reliable workhorse printer for anyone that needs to set up a small office at home.
Read our Canon Pixma TR8550 review.
- Reviewed on: 19 May 2017
It’s not the cheapest mono laser printer currently available, but the speed and versatility of the LaserJet Pro M227fdw make it an excellent choice for smaller offices that need to produce lots of high-quality text documents on a daily basis.
Read our HP LaserJet Pro M227fdw review.
- Reviewed on: 30 January 2017
The initial cost of the TS8050 is quite high, but its impressive photo printing will justify that price for people who are serious about photography. We’d avoid the standard size ink cartridges, as they’re not great value for money, but if you buy the high-yield XL cartridges then the TS8050 can provide top-quality photo-printing with very competitive running costs.
Read our Canon Pixma TS8050 review.
- Reviewed on: 10 July 2017
Don’t be alarmed by the price of the ink cartridges. The long-term running costs of the WF-4720DWF are lower than you might think, and its speed plus high-quality text and graphics make it a good option for home workers and small businesses.
Read our Epson WorkForce Pro WF-4720DWF review.
- Reviewed on: 11 January 2018
The DCP-J774DW is a neatly designed little printer that's well suited to use at home – even if it is a bit noisier than we might have liked.
But it’s the cost of ink cartridges that you’ll need to think about. To be fair, the relatively low up-front cost of the four-cartridge value packs may appeal to home users who know that they’re not going to be doing too much printing on a regular daily basis.
However, those running costs mean that the DCP-J774DW won’t be ideal for home workers or small offices that need to print documents every day of the week.
Read our Brother DCP-J774DW review.
- Reviewed on: 2 October 2017
If you like to print out lots of selfies and holiday snaps, or creative projects such as calendars and cards, then the Envy Photo 7830 with an Instant Ink subscription could genuinely save you a lot of money. However, it’s not a good option for home users who simply want a basic printer with modest running costs for occasional use.
HP’s Instant Ink subscriptions are good value when it comes to printing photos and other colour documents. However, simply buying ordinary replacement cartridges on an occasional basis works out very expensive, while mono printing is expensive regardless of how you buy the inks.
Read our HP Envy Photo 7830 review.
- Reviewed on: 13 January 2017
The strength of the XP-640 is its five-ink printing system, which makes it a good choice for people who want to print high-quality photos on a regular basis. However, its running costs are a little higher than average, and there are more affordable options if you simply need an inexpensive printer for basic text and graphics documents.
Read our Epson Expression Premium XP-640 review.
Your buying guide to the best printers in 2018
There's no single printer that will suit everyone, so while the list below is ordered it's best not to worry too much about the number beside it. We've mixed together home and business printers, multifunctions, colour and mono. They're all good.
Printers come in two main forms: inkjet or laser, with colour and mono flavours of each. Lasers tend to be more expensive to buy, but provide better quality output, particularly where lots of text is involved. And they can be faster. Notice we said 'tend' - lasers aren't always best.
As a basic rule, if you need to print only text, and a lot of it, a mono laser printer will offer the crispest text output and the best combination of fast page-per-minute output and low ink costs. If you need to print photos, choose an inkjet printer. A dedicated photo printer with individual cartridges for each colour will suit those who print only photos.
Total cost of ownership
When buying a printer, remember that the price you pay in the store is just the beginning. Be sure to consider the cost of replenishing toner and other consumables over the lifetime of the printer. This is particularly important if you print a lot. A set of toner cartridges can easily approach the cost of a colour laser printer.
Most manufacturers quote a 'page yield' estimate for their ink cartridges, which is the typical number of pages you can expect to print before the cartridge runs out of ink. You can use the page yield to calculate the average cost per page and you'd be surprised to find how much this can vary from one printer to another.
Of course, if output quality matters more to you than cost, scoot over to the other end of the cost spectrum where there are more specialised printers that use five or even six inks for printing photographs. Those additional inks can produce excellent results for your photo prints, but they add to the cost, sometimes pushing the cost for photos up to 10p or more per page.
Do I need a multifunction printer?
Most modern printers are multifunction 'all-in-one' devices that include a scanner too. This allows you to scan photos and other documents and convert them into digital files that you can store on your computer or share with friends or colleagues. You can also print copies of your scanned documents, allowing the printer to stand in for a photocopier too.
Some models even include a fax machine. If you require a scanner and a photocopier as well as a printer, you'll save money by buying in all-in-one - but if a standalone printer suits your needs, you may be able to spend less.
Print speed and additional features
Speeds quoted by manufacturers are almost never matched by real-world performance. If you often need to print in a hurry, look for independent reviews when choosing your printer.
Other useful features to look out for include additional USB ports and memory card slots that will allow you to print photos direct from a camera.
High-capacity paper trays capable of holding hundreds of sheets of paper, or an automatic document feeder that can handle scanning and copying work while you go and do something more important, may be worth looking out for.
Double-sided printing is handy for halving your paper usage.
It's also worth thinking about the bundled software that comes with your printer. Some printers include software that provides basic editing features, such as red-eye removal or adjusting the colour balance – some even allow you to perform simple editing tasks using controls on the printer itself.