Shopping for a new printer

Shopping for a new printer is a daunting task if you are unfamiliar with printers. There are so many brands and types, along with other options out there, it can be difficult to know and decide which printer is best for you.

Once you do decide what type of printer you need, you’ll discover a wide range of prices for each machine. Let me warn you now, don’t pick a printer based on the price of the machine! Instead, look at the ink that works with the machine. You want to consider how many pages the ink will get you, the price of the ink, how long it has been at that price, how many machines it is compatible with, and if there are cheap alternatives.

Some companies like to come up with unique ink cartridges for new machines. A year later, those cartridges cost a fortune and are difficult to find, or they just stop making them. Then you end up buying a new machine since it is cheaper than finding ink for your old machine.

Wireless All-in-One Printers

Wireless, all-in-one printers are those that are essentially built for individual, home usage. They typically are either 3-in-1 or 4-in-1 functionality. This means that they probably include a printer, scanner, copier, and possibly a fax machine. The printer portion of an all-in-one can be either inkjet or laser. The wireless label of course means the printer can be connected to wirelessly, although you’ll still want to check to make sure your specific device is compatible.

Inkjet versus Laser Printers

This brings us to the issue of inkjet printers versus laser printers. We’ve written an article comparing the two major types of printers, entitled “What is the difference between inkjet and laser printers?

To quickly summarize that article, basically inkjet printers are better for images, they can handle more materials and different types of paper, they take longer to print, have more expensive, water-based ink, and they cost less to buy. If you are buying a printer just for photos, you’ll want an inkjet and I suggest getting one specifically built for photos. Laser printers are more expensive, have cheaper ink that can potentially leak, they print faster, and they print black text better.

Inkjet Printers (or OfficeJet)

For various household printing needs, the machines are cheap but the ink is expensive.

Printer Price Ink Ink Price
Canon MG5720 Wireless All-In-One Printer $65-75 Canon 270 271 $45 + 49
Canon PIXMA MX922 Wireless Color Photo Printer $85-95 Canon 250 251 $43 total
Epson Expression Home XP-420 Wireless Color Photo Printer $45-55 Epson 220 $13 + $25
HP OfficeJet Pro 8610 Wireless All-in-One Color Inkjet Printer $95-105 HP 950 951 $39 + 48
HP Envy 5660 Wireless All-in-One Color Inkjet Photo Printer $75-85 HP 61 + 62 $30 total
Brother MFC-J870DW Wireless Color Inkjet Printer $95-105 Brother LC1032 1033 $30 ea.

Laser Printers

For printing black text, fast, and for less in the long-term, although more expensive up front.

Printer Price Ink Ink Price
Brother MFCL2700DW Compact Laser All-In One Printer $125-135 TN630 $30
Brother HL-L2340DW Compact Laser Printer $115-125 TN630 $30
Brother DCPL2540DW Wireless Compact Laser Printer $125-135 TN630 $30
Canon imageCLASS MF216n All-in-One Laser Air Print Printer $95-105 Canon 137 $117
HP LaserJet Pro P1102w Wireless Monochrome Printer $80-90 HP85a $54
(NEW) HP LaserJet Pro M402n Monochrome Printer $195-205 HP26a $123

Recommendations

After looking through a ton of printers, I have few recommendations for you.

If you are getting a laser printer for printing thousands of pages with just black ink, I’d recommend getting a Brother printer. Although those machines seem slightly more expensive at first, the ink is cheaper, easy to find, and they seem to use the same ink for a lot of different machines. The Canon and HP laser printers have more expensive ink, and it is difficult to find the exact correct one.

If you’re buying for printing photos, I’d probably go with one of the inkjet Canon printers specifically made for printing photos.

If you’re buying an HP inkjet printer, try to get one that uses HP 60 black and 61 tricolor ink. That is cheaper ink that is easy to find; they carry it practically everywhere.