What is the best printer for home use?

You’re looking for a new printer. It may seem like a simple question which should merit a simple answer: You want to know what the best printer for home use is. So you probably just want us to tell you a particular make and model. You maybe even hope we’ll link you to it on the Ebuyer website. But, in truth, as with all types of tech there is much more to arriving at an answer than just plucking a quick ‘this one’ or ‘that one’ out of the air.

There are many printers ‘on the market’ these days and, while it’s true to say that they all do ‘what it says on the tin’, there are are also various multifunctional models which are each suited to different sorts of user. The number and range of types of person needing access to a printer has grown exponentially. The technology itself has also advanced. So printers these days have probably ‘come on a lot’ since you last bought one!

Does anyone really need a printer? YES! (Shutterstock)

Printers: Why bother?!

Does anyone really need a printer when so much of modern life is paperless? Maybe we should start by spending a little bit of time looking at why printers even exist these days…

We all fill out job applications and medical questionnaires and more documentation online. We download gig tickets and even travel tickets to our mobile devices. We write to our friends in small chunks of text through social media or email, rather than print out word-processed letters and post them. We store work documents digitally rather than print them out to store in a filing cabinet. So many people would assume that buying a printer for the home is a bit of a waste of cash. It’s likely to just sit there gathering dust on the shelf. A cumbersome and ugly plastic ornament.

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But, actually, a printer is still very important as – and there’s no getting round it – even in the modern world there is no real substitute for printing something out on paper. Somehow, with documents, the information on them ‘goes in’ to the brain a bit easier when you read it from paper. And – obviously – you can jot down notes or amends on those pieces of paper, too.

You may also be part of a family which likes to have photographs printed (perhaps to be put in albums or in frames and hung on the wall) rather than thousands of digital versions stacked up on your devices, and rarely looked at.

So, in many cases, even though it may not initially seem like it, a printer is a really useful device to have as part of your home set-up. Essential, really.

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Yeah, okay, so I do need a printer… But what do I need to know?

Well, now we’ve established that even in these digital days a printer is necessary (even if it’s not going to be used as much as it might have been ten or even five years ago). So we can set about answering the question ‘which is the best printer for home use?’

There are several things to consider, really. Like all tech, the suitability of a particular printer model may depend on what your intended use is. There are so many variants available these days, with many different features and capabilities. In this article we’re going to run through what they are.

Inkjet or Laser?

Inkjet and laser printers are appropriate for different levels of use. How much stuff you intend to print should be a factor in your decision, here.

It is highly likely that if you went into any home anywhere in the world and examined the printer it would actually be an inkjet printer. But the choice between inkjet and laser is really worth considering if you are a university student or if you are ‘very heavily’ working from home on a large workload.

There are certain compact ‘budget’ models of laser printers which may very adequately serve the needs of students who are looking to print out their assignments, essays and dissertations. In general laser printers are more expensive but, traditionally, a bit more cost effective than inkjet printers.

They can produce more pages per replacement cartridge than an inkjet printer can – although, to be ‘fair’, inkjet printers are becoming increasingly more efficient on these terms. You may find (depending on make and model) that you get up to 10,000 pages from a single black ink cartridge, and around 7,000 pages from a colour cartridge. We’ll be talking a little bit more about ink life / replacing cartridges shortly.

Inkjet printers have become much better over the last decade, and the more modern ones can print good quality at very fast speeds (sometimes approaching ‘better’ laser printers). There have also been advances in the versatility of these devices, such as wireless capability.

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All-in-ones can scan and copy (Shutterstock.com)

Wired v Wireless

If you live in a household with several members – you and your spouse, a couple of kids and a tech savvy cat – then you would definitely benefit from investing in a wireless printer. Setting up with a wireless printer means a household can share the printer between multiple. Additionally, using a wireless printer means that it can be used by devices which don’t actually have built in cable or interface ports (tablets and smartphones).

How does a wireless printer work?

Well, with wireless obviously you don’t have to connect up your PC and your printer via a cable (as you do with a wired printer – hey, hence the name). And so you also don’t actually need your printer to be positioned near to your PC. That’s an immediate benefit in terms of the geography of your tech within the home. You can print from anywhere in the house (within reason). You don’t need to be sitting at your workstation. You could be in the kitchen, or in your favourite armchair or hiding in the wardrobe.

A wireless printer connects to a Wi-Fi router, and you access it through your programs just as you would if it was a unit connected by a cable. Here’s a note, though – a wireless printer isn’t completely wireless because it still needs to be plugged in for power. Another type of wireless connection is if you go for a Bluetooth printer, which can connect to any Bluetooth-capable computer or Bluetooth enabled device. These printers are not as common, but they do provide a print solution for some people.

Ink and toner

It’s always worth thinking about whether there are ‘running costs’ associated with a new bit of kit, whatever it is. In the case of home printers there definitely is an additional and recurring cost, as you’ll need both regular paper supplies and replacement ink or toner cartridges.

It is advisable, here, to always pay for genuine inks rather than try to shave a couple of quid off your costs by opting for ‘pirate’ or ‘counterfeit’ product, ie. cheap inks or toners. Really, you should only buy the device manufacturer’s own version so that you are guaranteed absolute compatibility with your device. It’ll save you money in the mid- to long term, as you won’t risk damage to the printer and you won’t invalidate the warranty.

Paper handling

Some of the more recent models of home printer have dedicated feed trays. This is the area of the printer where the paper is fed in, and what it is fed from. It means that you don’t have to print everything in the standard A4 format (and then go ‘totally analogue’ and trim things down with a pair of scissors if that is necessary – address labels for envelopes for instance). With dedicated feed trays you can print directly onto envelopes or index cards, and more. You can also ‘feed in’ larger paper to some models, too (A3).

There are trays which can handle a stock of up to 250 pieces of paper at a time, which means that you don’t have to restock the printer too often (obviously depending on your workload).

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Is an all-in-one printer right for me?

It could be! An all-in-one printer at home is, basically, your one stop shop for a variety of tasks. All-in-one printers are sometimes referred to as ‘multifunction printers’ and that’s because they’re actually capable of doing more than just printing. An all-in-one combines a scanner, a copier and a printer into a single  very convenient unit. In other words this means that they are printers with built-in scanners, which can be a life-saver when you need to ‘photocopy’ vital documents or scan photographs. It’s the perfect sort of device for users who need the functionality of those different bits of tech but don’t really want the hit to the pocket that buying three things would bring.

An extremely appealing aspect of all-in-one printers is the affordability – but also important is that they’re not particularly bulky. They don’t take up any more desk space than the average printer and, in fact, in some cases you might not even notice much of a difference in appearance.

All-in-one printers have Wi-Fi connectivity in addition to a USB interface – so you can easily connect to your PC no matter whether it’s a laptop or desktop. If you’re looking for a standalone desktop or portable scanner, see our separate guide to best scanners for documents & photos.

I’m a parent – just remind me why I need a printer…

Your children may be toddlers, or they might be school-aged, or perhaps they are even studying at college or university. Each subsequent generation is more and more savvy when it comes to the digital world. Kids these days know their way around computers like never before, and so even little ones are in some ways more attuned and advanced than their parents.

Hardly surprising, as each new generation is exposed to a wide array of new devices pretty much from the word go. But here’s the thing. However old they are, and however tech savvy they are, making sure there is a printer available at home is a really smart move as a parent. We’ll explain why.

Toddlers and school aged children

Even something as basic as finding a design to print off so that your toddler can colour it in (as opposed to colouring in your kitchen wall) makes investing in a printer worthwhile. There are websites out there, including supercoloring.com, which provide plenty of different black-and-white line drawings you can quickly print off to keep your pre-school child entertained!

Older children and students

When it comes to older children (and by older we mean those who are attending school, at whatever level) there is always the possibility that they will have homework which could benefit from having materials printed out. Perhaps there are assignments which the teacher has requested be physically ‘handed in’. Similarly for college and university students – there are benefits to having a printer available to them.

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Okay, so I’m not just a parent. I want to use the printer myself, as well. I’m currently working from home…

If you generate a lot of printed materials when you are working from home then setting yourself up with a decent printer which can ‘handle some hammer’ is advisable, depending on your role. In other words a device capable of continuous use and printing more documents than might be ‘normal’ for a household. It may also be advisable to go for an all-in-one if there are different elements to your job which require copying and scanning.

Printer image
Your home office could benefit from an all-in-one (Shutterstock)

Right. I think I’m ready to buy. So what is the best printer for home use?

There are many printers on the market, these days, and Ebuyer stocks a fantastic selection of the best. From top of the range to pocket-friendly options, we carry printers to suit every budget. Take a browse through our website here, or consider the handful of options we’ve cherry-picked…

The HP OfficeJet Pro 9015e All-in-One is a great printer for your home office if your range of needs includes printing professional-level colour documents, flyers, and brochures. You can count on fast print speeds (up to to 22 ppm), automatic two-sided printing, reliable Wi-Fi connectivity and a large 250 sheet paper tray.

The Epson XP-7100 Expression Premium A4 Colour Multifunction Inkjet is a stylish, top-of-the-range, compact all-in-one ideal for busy households. It produces outstanding glossy photos and crisp, clear documents. A4 double-sided printing, an Automatic Document Feeder and a 10.9cm touchscreen help make this device quick and easy to use.

The HP M454dw A4 Colour Laser Printer is an affordale wireless mono laser printer which is fast and offers excellent print quality. Compact and easy to use, with a 20ppm print speed and low running costs.

The HP Officejet Pro 6230 A4 Wireless Colour Inkjet is a mid-range model which makes a professional impression with high-quality colour printing that can get your business. Easily print from all your devices – smartphones, tablets and PCs – across the office or on the go.

The Epson Workforce Wf-2850 makes scanning, copying and faxing easy and operating the printer is easy with the WF-2850DWF’s 30-page Automatic Document Feeder. For added peace of mind, important documents can be scanned directly to the Cloud for storage. The printer also boasts a large 2.4″ colour LCD screen and a generous 100-sheet paper.

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