One of the best jokes on The Office was when Michael Scott made a local advertisement that bragged that his company had “limitless paper, in a paperless world.” And yes, the truth is people don’t need paper like we used to. But that doesn’t mean we don’t need paper at all.
If you have a home office, you’re probably going to need to print out documents, memos, contracts and the like. Kids often need printers handy for school papers and projects. Even if you aren't running a small business, more and more of us are working from home nowadays, so it can be useful to have a small printer around.
Printers are both smaller and cheaper than they were even a decade ago, and more of them come with built-in copiers and scanners to help you avoid the need to run to Staples or Kinko's. You can pay extra if you need to print a lot of documents, which could be helpful if you deal regularly with contracts, or if you want photo quality prints, which can be helpful for posters or flyers. But if you just want something inexpensive and reliable, there are plenty of options.
What printer is best for you? We like to ask experts for product recommendations when these kinds of questions arise. Here are the best printers for your money, as recommended by home office experts.
Best Home Printers for Less Than $200: Updated September 2020
HP LaserJet Pro M15w Wireless Laser Printer: Used from $156
Good things come in small packages, and Mike Bran, founder of the Sherman Oaks, California-based outdoor sports resource ThrillAppeal, says he is impressed by how much you get out of the compact HP LaserJet Pro M15w.
"It is the smallest printer of HP, but do not let its size fool you. This fast-performing printer prints 19 pages in one minute. The accompanying smart app allows me to print and scan from the mobile device," he says. "The wireless connectivity makes the printing process smoother and faster for me. This minimal-priced laser printer takes a small place in office space, has high print quality, and is also a cost-effective option for those on a low budget."
Epson Expression Home XP-4100: From $182
Aqsa Tabassam works as a brand manager for Austin, Texas-based SimplFulfillment, a logistics and supply chain company. Part of the company's focus is on "Print Fulfilment," as they call it, "which is basically third party vendor printing, storing, collating, assembling, packaging, and/or shipping printed and promotional products," she says.
"If you are looking for high performance and a small size, then Epson Expression Home XP-4100 is an optimal option. Auto 2 sided printing along with a 100 sheet paper feed tray saves paper and time. Along with fantastic print quality, I love the voice-activated printing functionality that does not bind me to operate it manually," she adds. "If you also want a copier and scanner, this mini-printer will be enough to satisfy your needs at a reasonable budget."
HLL2395DW Monochrome Laser Printer: $169.99
Joseph L. Stornelli, the owner of the New York City-based IT company JS Technology Group, says that he "frequently has to recommend printers for home and office." He likes the HLL2395DW from Brother, because in addition to being inexpensive, "these machines are known for being fast and reliable once installed. Interface and software are no-frills. These just work."
Best Home Printers All in One (for $200 or More)
Stornelli also likes HP's M255dw because it does a lot for the price without taking up much space. "For the consumer who needs color printing, the HP is one of the smallest units in its class. It’s quiet and fast, although not as fast as more expensive color lasers," he says. "At $299, the speed is hardly a dealbreaker to print in color. The HP brings a nicer touch-screen interface and better ease-of-use overall."
The main draw of the Canon TS5120 is that it's easy to use and can do a little bit of everything. "It is my top recommendation for buying a budget-friendly all-in-one printer with a scanner and copier. Due to its wireless functionality, users could connect all their devices with ease," Bran says. "It has vast OS compatibility, including Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS that makes printing quick and easy. Moreover, it does not take much room in the workplace because of having a compact size."
Depending on your business (and, perhaps, your kid's school projects), you might need print-outs that are photo-level quality. If so, Bradley Stevens, founder and CEO of the Miami-based LLC Formations, likes the Canon TS9120.
“The best thing on my working desk is this medium-sized Canon Pixma TS9120 with a 6-color individual ink system. It delivers exceptional photo quality results," he says. "It is compatible to connect with several devices via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi and can print the proper documents. I can connect the printer with my laptop, tablet, smartphone, or even from the cloud. I can also take out the photo prints using Photo Blue ink as part of the 6-color system. With the built-in creative filters, I can be more creative with my photos."
When you're trying to get the word out about your business, you can't afford to waste any time. Zach Reece is the owner of the Atlanta-based Colony Roofers, LLC.
"Most of my time is spent in the office, especially in the wake of COVID. As such, I have become quite acquainted with my printer," he says. "I own the Expression Photo HD XP-15000 Wireless Color Printer. This model makes it exceptionally easy to snap photos from my phone and send it right to the printer. The color printing is also really crisp, and can also print on special paper like postcards. This makes it really useful when printing material for offline marketing, which is really important for my company as a local business."
HP OfficeJet Pro 8620: Used from $500
The HP OfficeJet Pro 8620 is on the expensive side, but one fan attests that it's a worthwhile investment, because it can withstand constant use over a several-year period.
Miguel A. Suro is a Miami attorney and lifestyle writer at The Rich Miser, which has been featured on MarketWatch and Consumer Reports. "I’ve mostly worked from home for years, and am a heavy home printer user. For example, it’s not unusual for me to have to print over 1,000 pages when I need to travel for a legal deposition, or to scan hundreds of pages when I receive a record from a client," he says. "I currently have an HP OfficeJet Pro 8620 that has been with me since August of 2014, with no problems.
"It’s easy to print directly from both Android and iOS phones (I’ve tried it with both). The HP scanning software is simple and easy to use," he says, adding that he deals with "few or no jams, even with cheap paper."
Don't forget the little things. While there's no shortage of bells and whistles available for printers these days, there's something to be said for a printer that doesn't always run out of ink, and that leaves less of an environmental footprint. Vinay Amin is the CEO of Henderson, Nevada-based health and wellness store Eu Natural. "I work mostly from home, so I understand the importance of a reliable printer," he says.
"I recommend the EcoTank ET-3760 Wireless Cartridge-Free Printer. Aside from printing, it can also copy and scan files. What I really like about this printer is that it does not use traditional ink cartridges. It uses bottles that store far more ink, making replacement far less frequent," he says. "I have had the printer for a little over two years now and only had to replace the ink bottle once, and it took less than five minutes. I realize this may not be the greatest feature that will have everyone sold, but it certainly makes my job easier."
Epson L3160 (available by appointment through authorized sellers)
Printing T-shirts and printing documents aren't the same thing, but they're related. So anyone who works in the custom garment industry likely knows a thing or two about what to look for in a printer. Mike Sheety is the Director of the Ontario-based That Shirt, a custom shirt design service.
"When I consider home printing there are a few key characteristics that I look for. First, they're inexpensive and the replacement colors or toners are also inexpensive," he says. "Secondly, they have a good quality of print and they can print relatively fast. Thirdly, they have extra features that I might need, like a scanner for example. This all seems like a lot to find in just one device, but I think that Epson L3160 has them.
"The biggest plus of this printer is its EcoTank color technology. You don't need to buy expensive cartridges anymore, just a bottle of color that you pour down the corresponding opening in the printer. They last long and are surprisingly cheap," he says. "It's also worth noting that the quality of the print is exceptional and that it can print well on a paper that's a bit thicker than the conventional 80g office paper. You can use reflective or coated papers to print your images as well."