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The best cheap printers for 2021

by Mikael Harris
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Back in the day when printers first went mainstream, many sold at extremely high prices. Today’s best printers sell at a fraction of the cost, allowing you to print photos, documents, and everything in between without shelling out insane wads of cash. They even ditch the old tether for a wireless connection.

Anyone can now buy a cheap printer, but which is the best? Which provides the most bang for your buck? Keep reading to find out.

At a glance

Canon Pixma iP8720
HP DeskJet 3755
Epson WorkForce Pro WF-3820
Brother MFC-J4535DW
Epson Expression Home XP-4100
Kyocera ECOSYS P5026cdw
Epson EcoTank ET-2760
HP LaserJet M209dwe

Canon Pixma iP8720

Why you should buy this: Canon’s Pixma iP8720 can print photo size to wide formats for larger prints.

Who’s it for: The budding photographer and home crafter.

Why we picked the Canon PIXMA iP8720: 

The Pixma iP8720 is an excellent, home-friendly printer that combines great features with an affordable price. The quality is good enough for photo printing, and it can accommodate 13×19 prints if you need wider formats. The paper tray holds 120 sheets, and our tests showed that printing speeds were around 13.3 pages per minute (ppm) for black and white, while Canon claims up to 10.4 ppm for color.

Overall, the Pixma iP8720 is a remarkable printer and a great pick, especially for those who need to print flyers and other slightly larger materials. If you’re a professional photographer or earnest amateur, however, you may want a printer with higher image quality.

This printer also supports both USB connections and Wi-Fi, with added support for Apple AirPrint and Google Cloud Print.

HP DeskJet 3755

Why you should buy this: HP’s DeskJet 3755 delivers color printing and Wi-Fi connectivity in a compact, affordable package.

Who’s it for: College students, home users, and anyone who doesn’t want an obtrusive printer.

Why we picked the HP DeskJet 3755: 

One of the most affordable printers in this guide, the HP DeskJet 3755, might look less impressive and imposing than its contemporaries. However, its compact sizing and high print quality make it one of the best choices for a low-cost printer today. It’s fully Wi-Fi compatible for wireless printing and weighs just 5.13 pounds, making it easy to squeeze into pretty much any space.

With this kind of price tag, you do have to make some sacrifices, most notably in copier and scanning resolution limitations. The onboard display and button controls aren’t the most expansive either, but you don’t buy the DeskJet 3755 for its ability to do everything better than most. It can do what most others do and it does a passable job at all of it, but it’s far from class-leading.

When it comes to photo printing, though, we were impressed with its detail and color reproduction in our own testing. It’s not fast and it’s a little loud, but the HP DeskJet 3755 is very affordable. If you need to save space, it’s a great choice for smaller desks.

Epson WorkForce Pro WF-3820

Why you should buy this: Epson’s affordable WorkForce Pro WF-3820 can print at a zippy 21 pages per minute with fast-drying ink.

Who’s it for: Offices that need fast prints based on reliable pigment-based ink.

Why we picked the Epson WorkForce Pro WF-3820: 

Like the WorkForce Pro WF-3720 before it, Epson’s new WF-3820 is an all-in-one multifunction printer that can make scans, copies, and prints. Upgrades include faster 21 pages-per-minute black-and-white prints and 11 pages-per-minute color. Epson uses its new vibrant DURABrite Ultra instant-dry pigment-based ink for this printer, so you’re going to get smudge-free results. This makes the Epson WorkForce Pro WF-3820 ideal for offices that need a reliable, speedy inkjet to handle their document needs.

The printer comes with a 2.7-inch color touchscreen to navigate the settings and controls, like its predecessors, and it relies on Wi-Fi for wireless printing. There is an automatic document feeder for double-sided scans, and the printer can also handle duplex printing. All that’s missing here is the fax, which most homes and businesses may not require anymore.

Brother MFC-J885DW

Why you should buy this: Brother’s MFC-J4535DW relies on large cartridges to make volume printing more cost effective.

Who’s it for: Home users who don’t want to spend a fortune for each color print.

Why we picked the Brother MFC-J4535DW Tank Printer: 

At $199, Brother’s MFC-J4535DW Tank All-in-One Color Inkjet Printer may not sound like an inexpensive purchase, but keep in mind that this printer comes with up to a year of free ink included in the box. Despite the “tank” in its name, however, the Brother MFC-J4535DW uses cartridges and not ink tanks, so replacements, rather than refills, are necessary to keep running. That said, printing is kept affordable if you opt for the high yield XL-branded INKvestment cartridges, which gives you higher outputs at lower costs. Two trays that store up to 400 sheets ensures you won’t run out of paper in the middle of a job. And to make your paper supply last even longer, automatic duplex printing is also supported.

The printer comes with a 2.7-inch touchscreen for control, and it also supports cloud printing as well as smartphone printing with built-in Wi-Fi and NFC wireless standards. Faxing, scanning, and copying are also supported on this multifunction printer. A front-facing USB port makes it convenient to print from a flash drive.

Epson Expression Home XP-4100

Why you should buy this: Epson’s Expression Home XP4100 brings duplex printing in an affordable package into the home.

Who’s it for: Home users.

Why we picked the Epson Expression Home XP-4100: 

Epson’s Expression printers are specifically designed for homes where printing isn’t common, but there are still some documents or photos that need to be printed. Thanks to extra-simple controls, anyone can use these printers.

Despite its overall simplistic design, the XP-4100 offers welcome premium features like automatic 2-sided printing and Wi-Fi Direct compatibility for mobile devices. Voice activation allows you to instantly print shopping lists, for example.

That 10mm isn’t a mind-blowing speed, but Epson didn’t design the Expression Home XP-4100 for hefty work orders. When buying replacement cartridges, keep in mind that it requires a special type of cartridge with instant-dry Clarian ink.

Kyocera ECOSYS P5026cdw

Why you should buy this: Kyocera’s Ecosys P5026cdw is a fast, affordable color laser printer for the office.

Who’s it for: Small and medium offices requiring large printing needs.

Why we picked the Kyocera Ecosys P5026cdw: 

You might require the type of printer that’s able to efficiently print large jobs at lightning-fast speed if you operate a marketing firm, nonprofit organization, or similar business from your home. This printer by Kyocera is reasonably priced and will provide you a business-appropriate level of printing.

This Kyocera printer boasts speeds as high as 27ppm, comes with color and black ink, and supports several paper types. It’s compatible with Google Cloud Print, AirPrint, and the Mobile Print service by Kyocera. Users can print on the fly using its USB interface, wireless printing, and Wi-Fi direct for massive files.

Epson EcoTank ET-2760

Why you should buy this: Epson’s EcoTank ET-2760 makes large printing jobs more affordable with refillable ink tanks.

Who’s it for: Small offices wanting to save money on ink.

Why we picked the Epson EcoTank ET-2760: 

Whether you use a printer frequently or only depend on it now and then, saving money on ink cartridges is important! If one of your concerns is long-term costs for using the printer is ink, then you need a super-efficient printer that offers long-lasting cartridges. It’s no surprise that Epson has stepped up on this account, with the home-friendly EcoTank.

As the name suggests, the EcoTank all-in-one is made with a focus on ink efficiency: Instead of using traditional ink cartridges, it uses refillable ink tanks so you can add more ink from the bottles as needed. This one of the most cost-efficient methods of managing a printer, and while it may not work in a busy commercial setting, it’s an effective choice at home.

The EcoTank ET-2760 printer comes with two years of ink if you are a regular user. Other features include auto two-sided printing for saving on paper, a memory card slot for direct uploads, and compatibility with both Alexa and Google Assistant for voice commands.

HP LaserJet M209dwe

Why you should buy this: HP’s LaserJet M209dwe sacrifices color for fast, economical monochrome laser prints.

Who’s it for: Budget-oriented home and businesses primarily interested in printing black-and-white documents.

Why we picked the HP LaserJet M209dwe: 

HP’s monochrome LaserJet M209dwe comes in a very compact size, making it ideal for home and home office settings. Just don’t let its compact design fool you — this printer is advertised with the fastest two-sided printing for its class at 30 pages per minute for black-and-white jobs. The first page is ready in as little as 6.9 seconds, ensuring you won’t have to wait long for your document to start printing. Duplex printing is also supported to save on paper, and you can print on a variety of media types, including envelopes, labels, yardsticks, postcards, and even velum paper.

The printer comes with Instant Ink subscription, giving you the first six months of free ink toner. After that, you can cancel the subscription and buy replacements a la carte, or rely on the company’s worry-free subscription to ensure you’ll have enough toner for your print jobs. This printer works with HP’s robust HP Smart smartphone app, giving you added flexibility to send a secure fax, print documents from cloud services like Dropbox, or even scan directly to Google Drive or your email.

Affordable printers buying guide and FAQs:

Should I choose an inkjet or a laser printer?
What if I need a scanner?
What factors go into the cost of a printer?
How long will my toner or ink last?
Can I print from my smartphone or tablet?

Should I choose an inkjet or a laser printer?
That really depends on your personal printing needs, preferences, and budget. Traditionally, inkjet printers come with a lower upfront cost for the printer compared to a comparable laser printer, but replacement ink cartridges on the inkjet can be more expensive over time than toner for laser printing systems. That said, inkjets generally perform better with color printing processes, photographs, and artwork, while laser printers excel at handling documents, spreadsheets, and black-and-white print jobs. These days, however, the price and performance gaps are narrowing — inkjets that use tank cartridges deliver a more affordable cost per page, and laser printers are getting better at printing documents with color graphics.

What if I need a scanner?
If you need scanning and copying functionality, you’ll want to choose a printer with a scanner. Some printers come with a flatbed scanner, so you can scan papers of varying sizes. Others will come with an automatic document feeder, or ADF, that will automatically feed through what needs to be scanned or copied. More expensive multifunction printers will come with duplex scanning capabilities, meaning the built-in scanner will be able to perform double-sided scans.

What factors go into the cost of a printer?
If you’re on a tight budget, you’ll want to look at two things. First, you’ll want to choose a printer with a lower upfront cost. These are generally inkjet printers. Second, you’ll want to know the cost per page, and this will be particularly important for larger print needs. Cost per page is determined by taking the total cost of the toner or ink cartridge and dividing it by the manufacturer’s yield. For example, if ink costs $10 and that cartridge yields 10 prints, your cost per page is $1 per printed sheet. If you’re looking at color printers, you’ll generally see two or three cost-per-page calculations — there will be a calculation for monochrome prints, for color/mixed printing, and then a third one if it’s a printer used for photo printing. Photo cost per page is generally the most expensive, as the printer needs to use a lot of ink for output.

How long will my toner or ink last?
That will depend on how often you’re printing, the volume you’re printing, and what types of things you’re printing. Toner on a laser printer is generally more expensive, but it will last longer than an ink cartridge on an inkjet. Even with moderate use, inkjet cartridges will last home users a few months or even a year if you’re infrequently using your printer. Investing in a printer that supports high-yield cartridges — often designated with an XL branding — or a tank will give you better yields and lower your cost in the long run.

Can I print from my smartphone or tablet?
While older printers required a wired USB connection between your printer and a Mac or PC, most modern printers support a variety of wireless protocols. If you need to print using your smartphone or tablet, be sure to select a printer with support for Bluetooth printing, Wi-Fi Direct, or NFC. Most of these printers will also come with a smartphone app that can be used to initiate printing, and iPhone versions of these apps will support Apple’s AirPrint standard.

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Source : Digital Trends

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