From text quality to print features and even the cost of ink, we can easily say that some brands handle aspects of printing better than others, and we've combined our observations to determine which brands have a lead on the competition. For more specific advice and individual product reviews, see our rundown of the best all-in-one printer and best laser printers you can buy at the moment.
Though we loved the fast performance and great document print quality, the Canon may not be the best choice for high-volume printing. Ink costs are above average and the addition of a fifth ink cartridge didn't help it on the operating costs. Even using high-capacity ink cartridges, the cost of printing was nearly 20 cents per page.
HP models performed the best at reproducing color on plain paper, with smooth transitions and lots of fine detail. The HP Envy 5540 made some of the best-looking copies. Surprisingly, though, the HP OfficeJet 4650 made copies that didn't quite match the fine details and stronger dark shades of the Envy 5540's copies. (You'd think something with "Office" in its name might handle this common workplace task with more aplomb.) Also, the OfficeJet's grayscale copies had speckled textures and rough midtone transitions. More disappointing, the quality of black-and-white copies degraded further when using the OfficeJet 4650's automatic document feeder (ADF).
Of the Epson models, the XP-640 was the best copy machine: Although its copies were lighter than some others, Epson's all-in-one reproduced smooth transitions in its copies of color graphics. The other two Epson models, however, reproduced the same graphics too darkly.
Graphics print speeds varied a little more. Epson's 3.1 ppm bested the Canon (2.8 ppm) and HP models' (2.1 ppm) averages. Taking only the fastest model from each company, Epson's XP-640 almost doubled the speed of HP's fastest unit: The Epson XP-640 printed graphics at 5.1 ppm, while the HP Envy 5540 lagged behind at 2.6 ppm. The Canon Pixma TS6020 printed graphics at 3.1 ppm.
While it works best with 20-pound laser paper (or multipurpose copy paper), it can handle up to 24-pound paper in the paper tray or up to 61-pound paper in the manual sheet feeder. A Brother TN730 standard yield toner cartridge ($45) will produce about 1,200 pages, while a Brother TN760 high-yield cartridge ($80) will produce up to 3,000 pages.
The first decision to make is whether you want an inkjet printer or laser printer. Each uses a different printing technology, with laser printers typically generating printed documents with a professional-level quality and crisp, sharp text. Inkjet printers, however, are much better at generating photo lab-quality prints from your digital images. And for the best photo prints, look for an inkjet with a six-color ink system and that prints at a higher resolution.
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.) 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. Some new printers include an ink subscription in their original price tag, 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, we've got the best printer for you.
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.
Like the previous CNET photo tests, I use the PhotoDisc Target file for my image tests. I print them on the same Canon glossy paper 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.
The ET-4760 is small, light, and easy to set up and get on Wi-Fi. We appreciated its leakproof ink bottles, which made filling the internal reservoirs much less of a messy affair than it was with the Canon Pixma G7020. The ET-4760 also has a great touchscreen interface (albeit with a very small display), reasonably quick printing (up to 12.7 pages per minute in our testing), decent print quality, and functional (if dated-looking) apps. The ET-4760 was the best all-in-one photo printer we tested, too. It produced the truest and most attractive glossy photos of the bunch, which is key if you plan to use its abundance of ink to fill out your frames. 59ce067264