Nearly everyone who can is working from home now, and doing so effectively suddenly requires finding a decent home printer. That’s especially true if you’re also homeschooling kids who need hard copies of their assignments. But if you’re rebooting that old, dusty beast that’s been largely ignored for a decade or more, you’ll find that printing in any quantity will cost you more in ink than paper, electricity, and your hourly salary combined. Which is why you need to invest in the best printer for home use with cheap ink.
When choosing a printer, pay attention to how much bang you get for the buck: In this case, how often you need to replace toners or cartridges. Do you want color, or is that an extra you can live without? If you’re going with color, choose an inkjet printer; monochrome laser printers are better if you’re only churning out documents or math worksheets. And if size matters, get something you can shove onto a shelf without taking up the entirely of your work area.
Rest assured that plenty of innovations have happened in the space in the last 10 years, chief of which is the switch to tank-like systems that both hold more colored goo (read: more pages) and are cheaper to refill than before. So let the kids go crazy with homework. Print that TPS report in triplicate. With the options we’ve assembled, you can now afford to print to your heart’s—and wallet’s—content.
Compact, sturdy, and no-frills, this is the workhorse of printers. This reliable laser printer churns out 27 pages per minute. A replacement standard-yield black toner for $40 lasts you for roughly 1200 pages. It has a print resolution up to 2400 x 600 dpi, so your printouts actually look professional. It has a 250-sheet capacity paper tray, and does two-sided printing when needed. If you're just printing out random document, switch to toner-save mode.
The all-arounder, Canon’s wireless PIXMA G6020 may have a forgettable name, but it has a dependable—and affordable—performance that’s sure to win it a spot in your makeshift home office. With 6,000 black-and-white pages or 7,700 color shots, its capacity will take most people easily through quarantine with plenty of ink left to spare. And about that ink: As part of the company’s MegaTank line, it refills from large bottles that feed right into empty reservoirs, creating less waste along with less cost. At $12 to $18 per color (three plus black), your top-off will cost less than Fido’s visit to the groomer.
For those churning and burning through paper in their at-home workspace, we’re fans of the EcoTank by Epson. Scan, copy, fax, and print like a motherf— at lightning speed, with 15 black-and-white pages per minute or eight with color, making it the fastest printer on this list. It uses a tank-like system for its colors, meaning all that printing won’t have you tearing through as many cartridges. The big bottles of replacement ink (three colors and one black) are also reasonably priced between $13 and $20.
More function than the Canon on this list and substantially cheaper than the Epson, HP’s option may be the best value with the lowest downside. It copies, scans, and faxes, and while it prints at around half the speed of the Epson, it still performs admirably from a max 100-sheet store. It also uses a tank system for its inks, which both hold more (the company predicts 6,000 black pages or up to 8,000 for color) and are cheaper to refill ($15 to $17 per bottle for four). All together, it’s a well-rounded package for a price that’s impossible to beat.
Maybe your work is completely paperless and your kids are working entirely on their iPads. Maybe all you really want is a means of documenting unique moments taken with your smartphone. If that’s the case, the Polaroid Lab is the most ingenuity we’ve found in an old-new product. At its most basic, you place your smartphone over the device with your preferred photo pulled up. Push the button and presto, your pixels are now a Polaroid. Through its app, you can also split one photo into a collage of up to nine as well as augment reality when your artistic bug really starts to bite. The company makes both color and black-and-white film, the former of which runs $30 for 16 photos, so we advise you expose your sheets wisely. But for the analog lover, nothing beats a Polaroid when it comes to making memories.
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