Now that so much work can be done online without the need for a hard copy, many people were beginning to wonder in recent years if they really need a printer at home. However, with tons of people now working from home, we're starting to see a mini-renaissance for home printers. And if you're one of the many who now find yourself in need of your own printer, CNET is here to help you find the right one for your home office. We've combed through the changing landscape of printers to bring you the best models available in 2022 so you can print photos, work documents, college essays and more whenever you need.
Every printer profiled below can manage basic printing needs. For example, they can handle mobile printing and wireless printing from a phone or any, or , which is a must when it comes to office printers. They can also print over a cabled connection and via wireless printer connectivity. (Note that some -- but not all -- printers support Apple's AirPrint and Google's Cloud Print protocols, which are usually less onerous than the printer vendors' proprietary systems.)
But what you intend to print will determine which is the best printer for you. If you're mostly working with shopping lists, concert tickets or travel itineraries, having excellent print quality is arguably less important than print speed and price. If you're using your printer for professional materials or photo printing, then color accuracy, printing quality and the inclusion of features like borderless printing will be primary considerations when you're looking for the right printer.
Another factor to consider is the cost of ink and making sure that you have enough ink to print everything you need (there's nothing more frustrating than having a printer but no ink in the ink tank for printing). Inkjet printers use liquid ink to print, whereas laser printers use toner cartridges containing powder. So even if you're getting a great printer deal, just be sure to do some research into how you'll refill the ink so you can choose the best printer for your overall budget. Several new printers are also on offer complete with ink subscriptions so that may be something to consider as well.
We've tested and reviewed the top models for home and small office use from many of the major printer manufacturers including Brother, Canon, Epson and HP. Whether you print for business or personal use, at home or in an office, we've got the best printer for you. While several models on this list are no longer available or are wildly overpriced because of limited stock, we are currently in the process of testing a new round of printers and will update this list with our latest picks shortly. Check back soon for our most up-to-date choices on the best printers for this year.
If you work from home but need all the advantages of an office printer, the OfficeJet Pro is an excellent choice. In terms of sheer printing speed, the HP is ahead of most others in its price range. It printed the 10 pages in just 32 seconds and scanned and printed them in 1 minute, 12 seconds. Very impressive.
While the images and graphics aren't the best, they were, on average, for at-home printers. The text was excellent, with clearly defined edges, even the Comic Sans parts. It's a bit larger than some of the printers I tested, but the deep paper tray and auto-feed for the scanner make the size worthwhile.
Of the printers I've tested so far, the OfficeJet Pro is the most versatile. It also comes with six months of free ink, based on a standard usage if you sign up for HP Plus. While HP Plus does give you some extra helpful app choices for free and the ink, the downside is you can only use HP inks while subscribed to it.
The Canon Pixma TR4720 is not going to be winning any awards in any category. In all of my testing, it came out around the middle of the pack in just about every category. While that could be seen as a negative in a printer that costs several hundred dollars, for one that is as cheap as the Pixma, it's encouraging.
In fact, the Pixma scored better in color reproduction when placed against other, more expensive all-in-one printers when printing on glossy paper. Some printers suffer from dimpling when printing images but the Pixma didn't and the skin tones were far better on the Canon image than on other brands. My only real negative is the machine's volume. You can tell it was built on a budget, but as far as budget printers go, this one's pretty good.
Sublimation is the process of transferring ink from paper to another material like t-shirts, mugs and canvases. There are plenty of options if you are looking to convert a standard printer to use sublimation ink but if possible you should buy a dedicated printer for the job.
The Sawgrass SG500 is purpose-built to print using sublimation ink and paper. It works great too: You can print up a storm of artwork to put on t-shirts for the whole family. If you're interested in starting your own business using your own art, then this printer is well worth the price.
After testing the Expression I was pleasantly surprised at how well this printer did. Being Epson's budget option it could have been poor, but instead performed excellently at text reproduction and about average on the image quality.
The setup was quick and easy and the Wi-Fi connection seems to be solid wherever I put it in my house. Print time was average at 1 minute, 15 seconds, but the text quality more than made up for the speed. All of the text, even the photocopied text was legible and smooth.
The only downside is how small the ink cartridges are on this printer. I know ink is where companies make the most money, but replacing these tiny cartridges every few weeks or months will get old quick.
If you don't care about color printing, there's a very good reason to buy a black-and-white printer: There's only one toner or ink cartridge to refill, which is going to keep your cost per page down.
When CNET's Dan Ackerman reviewed this Brother printer in 2018, he found it noteworthy for its combination of low price (at least when it's on sale), painless setup, easy operation and nearly universal customer approval. It's a monochrome laser printer, so you can't print color images or photos, but the Brother HL-L2395DW will masterfully handle any black-and-white laser printing job. (Its sibling, the HL-3170CDW, adds color capabilities, but has no scanner or touchscreen.)
This monochrome printer is easy to connect to a Wi-Fi network, and it supports Google Cloud Print and network printing whether you're using a PC or Mac. And it's quick: Printing 10 pages from a MacBook took 27 seconds. A seven-page webpage from the Edge browser on a Windows laptop took 36 seconds. Copying a single sheet of paper took 9 seconds.
Brother says the "starter" black toner that comes with the system should be good for 700 printed pages. Like a number of other models we tested, this printer supports Amazon Dash Auto Replenishment, which means it'll automatically order new toner for you when it's running low, unless you turn off the feature in your Amazon settings.
If space is tight but you need to print shipping labels, shopping lists or homework assignments a few times a month -- an increasing likelihood as the pandemic era drags on -- this is your machine.
The HP LaserJet Pro M15w is a compact printer that's a great fit for practical, nonfussy tasks and its tiny footprint, measuring about 8 inches deep and 14 inches wide, fits perfectly on a bookshelf. And at just 8.4 pounds, it makes for a great portable printer for light printing jobs.
It's a wireless printer, so it connects via Wi-Fi to nearly any device. That means you can even print from your phone. If you can live without a scanner -- after all, phone cameras can handle most scanning jobs now -- and color output, the LaserJet Pro M15w is a great choice for a decent price.
How we test
For a long time, CNETs methodology for testing printers didn't change. Our original testing was designed in the days when Wi-Fi printers were rare, and faxing was an important consideration when choosing a device. These days, Wi-Fi is standard, app-controlled printers are everywhere and what and how we print has changed considerably. I designed a new set of printing parameters for 2022 that I hope will mesh with how we use printers nowadays.
Print and copy speed
The speed at which things print and copy are important in our daily lives. Printing a quick theater ticket, or copying a document needs to be done quickly and accurately. Testing this is easy; I simply used a stopwatch and printed 10 pages of text of varying sizes and type faces. I used Fillerama to generate random text from Star Wars and Monty Python and changed the font size randomly across the page. I also used different fonts like Arial and Times New Roman to see how they would print. I even added Comic Sans into the mix, as people still think it's a good idea to use it. Middle managers mostly.
Brochure and web page test
When asked, people told me that they use their home printer for printing online tickets from webpages as well as their resumes for job interviews. With that in mind I used the standard brochure template from Google Docs that I changed a little -- I made the font size smaller and larger and changed the font too -- to give that modern resume look. I also saved my article about becoming ainto a PDF -- I needed to keep the ads the same on every test so the live article wouldn't do. Sometimes we are in too much of a rush to select just the ticket, so printing the entire webpage is easier. This test simulates that.
When you work from home you often have to submit your receipts for traveling and incidentals. One of the most common ways to do that, if you aren't lucky enough to have an app, is to tape receipts to a piece of paper and scan them into your computer. That way you can email to where they need to go quickly and easily. To recreate that, I taped my receipts from my food shopping to create a scan. I used a mixture of new receipts and ones that had faded in my wallet, then I checked the scan for legibility. Most scanners will enhance the image you are scanning and that certainly helps with receipts.
Picture quality test
Like the previous CNET photo tests, I use the PhotoDisc Target file for my image tests. I print them on the same and study them according to the guidelines associated with this industry standard. I take special note of the skin tones at the bottom to make sure they're replicated correctly and I also check for chromatic abrasion. Chromatic abrasion is a purple hue that often surrounds images and can make even the best picture look cheap and tacky. I also check for stippling; an image error that occurs on poorly calibrated inkjet printers.
Should you buy a printer with an ink subscription?
Ink subscriptions are becoming more common, with several of the printers on this list offering them as part of the original cost. Are they any good though? It all depends how much ink you use. If you're printing more than 100 pages a month, then yes, it likely is a good deal. Less than that and you may find you don't need it.
Most ink subscriptions offer you a certain number of months free, so it is worth trying it to see if it can fulfill your needs, but remember to cancel it before you are supposed to start paying if you don't want it.