When buying a printer the first decision you need to make is inkjet or laser. Inkjet printers are generally smaller, cheaper, and provide better photo print quality over laser printers. However, if you are only going to print black and white text or will be using it constantly then a laser printer is preferred. While some inkjets just print, many inkjet printers are all-in-one, or multifunction, meaning they can print, scan and copy. They also are often designed for more specific tasks like office use – designed for multiple users or higher volume in small office environment or photo printers – best for optimal photo quality.
Below we review the top 10 best inkjet printers for normal users as well as the top 2 best for professionals. If you still need more advice check out our inkjet buying guide.
The HP Officejet Pro 8620’s main weaknesses are image quality and its large size. The prints it makes are good, but not great, so if image quality is of utmost importance to you then you should look elsewhere. Overall we recommend this HP printer for small or home office settings where you will be printing a decent amount, but do not need superior photo quality.
Some negatives users should be aware of include an inability to print borderless photos, lacks a memory card reader, and requires manual entry of wi-fi password. The higher price of the Canon Maxify MB5320 caused us to downgrade it slightly and should cause home users to look for a different model, but overall it is a solid performer for the small business office.
Buyers should be aware the Pixma iP8720 lacks the multifunction capabilities of some of the other printers.
We recommend the iP8720 for users whose primary use will be printing photos at home with an occasional text document as well. For users who will print a higher volume of pages you might want to look for a model with lower overall printing costs.
One of the main drawbacks of the Pixma MG7520 is the printing and maintenance cost. A 4×6 will cost about $0.65 and a page of text about $0.065. It also uses a lot of ink to maintain the printhead between printings. One other annoying feature users should be aware of is that you cannot print if one of the color ink cartridges runs out of ink.
We recommend the Pixma MG7520 for home users who will primarily want to print from their phone or tablet without having to worry about transferring files around.
We recommend the HP Officejet Pro 8610 for small offices or home offices who need an affordable printer to print mostly text documents with some graphics, but who do not need super high resolution photos.
The main downsides are the print costs and the amount of ink it uses to maintain the print head. It is also louder than many other printers.
We recommend the Canon Pixma MG5620 for casual home users who need very good quality, but won’t be printing documents in large quantities or any large format images.
The cons are that it is very expensive, it is large and heavy, and it can’t print borderless photos.
We recommend the Epson WF-5690 for work offices that will be printing a relatively high number of color documents and who still need very good image quality.
One drawback of the XP-820 is the printing and ink maintenance cost. A 4×6 image will run about $0.50, an 8×10 about $1.55, and a text page about $0.052. It also uses a lot of ink in maintaining the print head if you only print intermittently.
We feel the Epson Expression Premium XP-820 is a good choice for a home user who needs a multifunction printer that does not take up very much space and will still print photos of excellent quality.
This model still uses just one color ink cartridge and one for black ink. This can affect print costs greatly depending on how you use it. For someone who only prints in color once in while, then you can save money since it will use very little ink in maintaining the print head. However, once one color runs out you have to replace the whole cartridge.
The HP Envy 7640 would make a good choice for an occasional home user who does not print that often and who does not need to produce amazing photo quality.
We recommend the Epson Expression Home XP-420 to the home user who only prints something occasionally and is more concerned with the initial price of the machine and how much space it takes up.
Best Professional Inkjet Printers
We highly recommend the Epson SureColor P600 for professionals who need the best prints, although be aware that there are other options if the initial price is too much for you.
The Canon Pixma PRO-100 is a great choice for those of you who need professional results, but don’t want to spend a ton of money.
Inkjet Printer Buying Guide
Here are some important things to consider when you are purchasing an inkjet printer:
Class / User Profile
Each machine is normally geared towards a specific use. There are models made for office or business settings. There are also versions for primarily photos, portable travel companions, and those that are for general multifunction home use. Pick one that is designed for the way you will be using it.
Resolution / Print Quality
Inkjet printers work by applying a precisely controlled stream of tiny ink droplets from one or more cartridges to a variety of paper types. The print quality you get is dependent on a printer’s resolution, expressed as DPI (dots per inch). However, the resolution is not the only thing that affects quality. Dot size, shape, and placement as well as the ink and paper quality will all affect the image quality.
Ink Cartridge Cost
One of the most important aspects of inkjet printers is the cost of ink because in the long run this will cost much more than the printer itself. Some have one cartridge for the black and second one for the color inks. Others have a separate cartridge for each color – cyan, magenta, yellow. For photos, some newer inkjets have additional cartridges that contain lighter cyan and magenta inks, or gray ink, which can blend light areas of an image better. You should see how much replacement cartridges will cost and how long or how many photos your ink will last you. One tip that can save you money is that many cartridges can be refilled with ink much cheaper than buying a whole new one.
Be wary of manufacturers claims of print speed, or how fast they can print a black or color page. The International Organization for Standardization (widely known as ISO) developed an industry-approved and internationally accepted standard, ISO PPM for black and color, specifically for inkjet printers and all-in-ones that measures default print speeds using real world printing scenarios. This is the spec you should look for which measures how many pages per minute a printer can print in black or color. A good speed is 12 ISO PPM black or 9 ISO PPM color.
If printing without wires is important look for wireless models that support WiFi. Most models also have USB and other memory card ports to print without the computer.
Generally, all inkjets print on standard paper (letter and legal sizes) and accept envelopes. However they can vary on other paper sizes, double-sided printing, and document feeders for copying, scanning, or faxing. They also will vary on how many sheets of paper their input and output trays can handle.
You should also pay attention to the path your paper will move through the printer. Some have ‘U’ shapes that won’t work will with stiff media, instead you will want a straight-through paper path.
Paper is not the only thing that many modern inkjets can print on. Some can print on discs like DVDs or CDs.
Look for a machine with simple controls for scanning, copying, or printing. Some have a large LCD screen from which you can edit images without the need for a computer.