What do you use your printer for? If it’s nearly all of your home office stuff like boarding passes, letters and documents, you can get away with something pretty cheap. But if you print a lot of photos or you want to scan and copy documents, you need what’s called an all-in-one. Most models here scan and copy. Some double as fax machines, too.
The best convenience a printer can offer is wireless connectivity, so you can print from a laptop anywhere in the house, not just the PC in the study. Most printers now have wi-fi – including all here. Some now also work with a smartphone or tablet – look out for AirPrint for compatibility with Apple phones and Google Cloud Print for Android.
Pricier machines usually have faster printing speeds, though for home use this is rarely a priority.
1. Canon PIXMA MG7752 All-in-one Printer: £120, Currys
This is an excellent all-round printer, especially for photography lovers. The top-end machine uses six different inks, including two black inks, to deliver exceptionally good photo prints. There are two paper trays to make it easier to switch between documents and photos. The touchscreen is bright, colourful and easy to use. It is wireless and works with mobile phones, too. This is an excellent all-round printer but especially for photo lovers.
2. Canon MAXIFY MB2050 All-in-one Printer: £73, Amazon
It’s a little on the hefty side, but Canon’s printer does a lot for not much money. It has four inkjet cartridges (three separate colour ones and one black). It is controlled by buttons under the screen: it’s not a touchscreen. Photo quality is good, though note that the printer can’t go right to the edge of the paper.
3. Epson Expression Photo XP-8500: £99, John Lewis
The XP8500 has quiet, demure looks but is a powerhouse under the hood. The flat front opens up to reveal the paper tray, closing again at the touch of a button, so it takes up little space on the desk. Picture quality is good enough to be used for photo printing, not least because it has six separate ink cartridges. It's exceptionally easy to set up and offers wireless printing through AirPrint, Google Cloud Print and Epson's own app. The large touchscreen (6.8cm) is fast and responsive. This is a tremendous all-rounder.
4. HP DeskJet 3630 All-in-One Printer: £35, Amazon
This is about as cheap as printers get, but it includes wireless connectivity, a scanner and a copier. Print quality is average to good but for this price it’s hard to quibble if your usage is moderate. Historically a printer that was cheap to buy had high ink costs. Here you can choose Instant Ink where you pay a monthly subscription which cuts costs significantly compared to buying cartridges individually. It’s £1.99 a month for up to 50 pages, rising to £7.99 a month for 300 pages. Note that the build quality is average.
5. Epson WorkForce WF-7110DTW Printer: £110, Amazon
If you need to print stuff big, this one handles paper up to A3 size. There are separate colour cartridges – better than combined cartridges where you need to buy a new one when one of the three colours runs out. Epson is traditionally excellent for photos and this printer doesn’t disappoint. Unsurprisingly, given the A3 capability, this is a big machine, so make sure you have the space.
6. Brother MFC-J4620DW: £149, Amazon
Like the Epson WorkForce, this big, serious-looking printer manages A3 paper as well as A4. You can also scan, copy and fax pages up to A4 size. Print quality is good, though monochrome documents are better than colour ones. A special system for feeding the sheets of paper can be noisier than some printers, though it also means it’s fast. The control using the colour touchscreen is simple and straightforward.
7. HP DeskJet 3720 All-in-one Printer: £60, Currys
HP claims this is the smallest all-in-one in its class. It’s certainly one of the most brightly coloured. Unlike some, this one doesn’t manage double-sided (or “duplex”) printing but it is wireless and scans and copies as well as printing. To make it this small HP had to leave out a flatbed scanner, opting for a system which pulls the document to be scanned through, so no good for scanning from a valuable old hardback, say. Copy quality is adequate but not outstanding, so best for occasional use.
8. Kodak Verité 55: £60, Amazon
Kodak pulled out of the printer business a couple of years ago but this model, made by new owner Funai, is good for the price. It comes with full-size cartridges, not the starter versions most printers have. And because it has NFC, it’s especially easy to connect to a compatible Android phone, say. It also has Kodak apps for simple printing from iPhone or Android handsets. However, there’s no touchscreen and it can’t do two-sided printing. And it won’t work as a fax.
9. Canon PIXMA MG2950 All-in-one Printer: £30, Argos
Another bargain printer, Canon’s machine is impressive for the price. Print quality is good, it has a small footprint and comes in black or white versions. The controls are just simple buttons but features include wi-fi, scanning and copying. It can’t do borderless photo prints, and it’s noisy in operation but these faults shouldn’t be deal breakers at this price.
10. HP Envy 7640 All-in-One Printer: £135, Amazon
HP’s Envy range has been consistently high-quality with excellent reliability and good print quality. This model has a separate tray for photo paper smaller than A4. It’s also eligible for HP’s Instant Ink subscription service. The touchscreen control is responsive and fast, making this printer easy and satisfying to use. Extra features include NFC connectivity, USB and SD memory card slots and double-sided printing. It takes up quite a bit of desk space, mind.
If you use a printer rarely, one of the cheaper models here (Canon Pixma MG2950 or HP DeskJet 3630) will suffice. For better print quality and real versatility, though, the real standout here is the Canon Pixma MG7752. It costs more up front but works really well. Similarly, the Epson Expression Photo XP-8500 has a lot going for it and is extremely easy to operate.