Most of the work we do from home, be it for an employer, to keep our personal finances in order or, for school, can be completed and submitted digitally. Once in a while, however, you might need to print and sign a legal contract, scan receipts for your accountant or free a photo that’s been trapped on your smartphone to hang on your wall. Situations like these are what make owning a reliable multifunction home printer so attractive.
After looking into some of the most popular printers on the market for weeks, we can tell you that the HP Officejet Pro 8035 (available at HP) is our favorite option. It’s easy to set up, easy to use, and produces crisp black and white or colored documents or photographs. It scans well and makes excellent copies of anything you throw at it.
If your budget falls on the leaner side, the HP Envy 6055 (available at HP Store for $129.99) is a great choice. While it isn’t quite as easy to use as our main pick, it does a great job of printing simple black and white documents with crisp-looking text, quickly. However, we are less impressed with the color documents it produces.
The recommendations in this guide are based on thorough product and market research by our team of expert product reviewers. The picks are based on examining user reviews, product specifications, and, in some limited cases, our experience with the specific products named.
HP OfficeJet Pro 8035
In the absence of other co-workers, while I work from home, the HP Officejet Pro 8035 is the best work-wife I could hope for: helpful, nice and good at its job.
The Officejet Pro 8035 is an inkjet printer that can produce black and white documents at a printing speed of 20 ppm (pages-per-minute). While printing colored content, it churns out pages at 10 ppm. It’s a breeze to set up and print from using a Mac, iPhone, Windows PC or Android device, thanks in part to how easy the HP Smart app is to use.
This printer produced solid quality monochrome ( a fancy way of saying it prints in black and white) and colored prints on regular paper and heavy stock paper. Of all of the printers in this guide, the Officejet Pro 8035 printed the best color photos on glossy photo paper, making it just as useful as a photo printer as it is for business or school. The photos it printed were clear, had excellent color fidelity and were neither too light nor too dark.
For scanning, it can hold up to 35-sheets of paper in its auto document feeder and scan up to Legal (8.5x14) sized documents and photos from the feeder. If you’re not looking to print your scans, they can be saved as files to your computer or sent to a USB flash drive. In the case of the latter, no matter what media you’re scanning, it’ll be saved as a photo, by default. Changing the Officejet Pro 8035’s setting so that text documents will be saved in a more reader-friendly format is a simple process.
If a printer’s ink cartridges become misaligned, images and text may print at an angle. A misalignment can occur after completing a large print job or if your ink cartridge heads are dirty. The Officejet Pro 8035 makes sure that its cartridges stay on the straight and narrow by using the scanner to check the printer cartridge’s alignment. When the printer alignment page prints out, you simply place it in the scanner and press continue.
The Officejet Pro 8035 then scans the alignment page and checks the alignment on your behalf. What’s more, I found it to be relatively quiet (for a printer) and liked how easy it was to install and remove its ink cartridges.
Despite all of the things to love about this printer, it’s not without its shortcomings. It's irritating that the HP Smart app constantly harangued me to set up an HP account, especially since having an account isn’t required in order to use the app or the printer. Additionally, the paper tray is a little on the flimsy side.
Good text & photo printing on any weight paper
Easy to use
HP Smart app works well
Flimsy paper tray
HP Smart app will bug you about setting up an account
The HP Envy 6055 might look like a spaceship, but it performs like a workhorse. During testing, it proved more than capable of spitting out sharp-looking black and white documents, quickly and neatly, from macOS, Windows, iOS and Android devices.
The Envy 6055 is a color inkjet printer that prints documents at a rate of 10 ppm monochrome and 7 ppm color. HP recommends using 20-pound paper for this machine. With just two ink cartridges, it was exceptionally easy to set up. To ensure that your printed content always looks its best, the Envy 6055 offers the ability to check printer alignment with the scanner, in much the same way that the Officejet Pro 8035 does.
While the Envy 6055 doesn’t come with a built-in display to help you navigate the printer’s setup process, HP’s excellent HP Smart for iOS and Android devices more than made up for this shortcoming, and had me up and running, in no time. That’s the good stuff. Now, here’s what’s bad.
The Envy 6055 didn’t perform well when printing on glossy photo paper: photographs came out streaky, with visible bands of ink. It was also disappointing that when printing to heavier 32-pound paper, the text smudged, and bled into the paper stock. And, while HP claims that the Envy 6055 can handle double-sided printing, I was never able to get it to do so. Finally, the printer would occasionally light up like a disco for no discernable reason.
Finally, as the printer doesn’t have a built-in display to explain what was happening, or how to stop it, I found myself resorting to unplugging it to make the light show stop.
Despite these shortcomings, If you are looking for a low-cost option that handles basic printing duties well, the Envy 6055 could be worth your consideration.
The Epson ET-4760 with its 16.4 x 19.8 x 10.0-inch dimensions won’t take up much room in your home office.
The most notable thing about Epson’s line of Ecotank inkjet printers is that they don’t use ink cartridges. Instead, as their name suggests, an Ecotank printer’s ink tanks gets topped off by filling them with bottles of ink, available individually or as part of a set, as needed. This could be a messy operation, but the Epson’s refill bottles lock into the top of the tank, which prevents spillage. Each of the printer’s tanks holds 2.2 ounces of ink.
The Epson iPrint app is user-friendly. Boasting a straightforward tiled interface. The experience is very similar on both Android and iOS devices. Glossy 4x6 photos came out crisp and clear with the ET-4760. Scanned captures and copied photos were true to their originals. Additionally, the printer did an excellent job of single and double-sided document printing, on plain paper.
Unfortunately, photos scanned by the ET-4760 sustained a bit of a hit to their resolution that I wasn’t able to find an explanation for. Additionally, the printer didn’t fare well printing on heavier stock paper. Finally, If you plan on printing anything from a USB stick, look elsewhere: the ET-4760 doesn’t come equipped with a USB port.
The Epson XP 6100 produced legible text documents on both regular and heavy paper. I found that the copies it made of scanned printed material was acceptable. It handled photo printing reasonably well, too, but neither its copies nor photos were anything to write home about.
The Epson iPrint app for Android and iOS worked well with the XP 6100. I also liked that the printer comes with a designated email address, allowing you to print, even when you’re out of the house: simply email what you want on paper to the printer and you’ll find hard copies waiting for you when you return to your home office.
Those looking to use the XP 6100 primarily with a mobile device will likely be happy with it. phone the app and email you’ll likely be happy with it. However, I found its software for Windows and Mac computers was convoluted and irritating to use. While testing it with my Windows laptop, the XP 6100’s software would insist that the printer was connected and ready to print, but wouldn’t allow me to do so. It took three attempts before I was able to actually connect and print out a document.
This multipurpose Canon printer is a popular item among Amazon shoppers. It’s wireless, it can handle 13 black-and-white pages a minute, and its AirPrint functionality makes it a breeze for Apple users. We haven’t tested this exact model firsthand, but user reviews are generally very positive, citing ease of use and great printing quality.
If you’re concerned about getting it to connect to your device, you do have a variety of options—it supports AirPrint, Bluetooth, USB, and Wi-Fi. It’s a smaller printer, so it shouldn’t take up much space, and it seems to handle most photo projects well. It comes with a pair of ink cartridges, but replacement carts will of course cost extra; they run about $25 apiece.
This color laser printer from Xerox claims to offer office-friendly performance, though we haven’t tested this exact model out ourselves. As advertised, it should hold up to 250 sheets of paper at once, as well as handling print speeds up to 24 pages per minute. It can print on various kinds of cardstock, and you can adjust the darkness level to conserve ink—letting you save money and be environmentally conscious. Reviewers love the print quality.
The two types of printers most often put to work in a home office setting are multifunction laser printers and inkjet printers.
Laser Printers: As their name suggests, laser printers use laser beams to project what you are printing onto a metal cylinder called a drum. Static electricity on the drum attracts powdered toner from the printer’s ink cartridge, on to the drum. Under the heat of the lasers, the toner melts onto the paper. Because the toner is melted, there is a strong, distinct smell that comes with laser printing.
The good news is that a single toner drum can produce between 6000-7500 printed pages before it needs to be replaced. The bad news is that replacing a laser printer’s toner can be quite expensive. That said, depending on how often you print and how important speed is to you, investing in a laser printer could be worthwhile. 6,500 color copies with the HP Color Laserjet pro m479dw, for example, will end up costing around .07 cents, per page. Printing the same document with the HP Officejet Pro 8035, an inkjet printer costs .13 cents, per-page. That adds up to a total savings of $390. What’s more, the Officejet Pro 8035’s XL cartridges can only print around 825 pages before they need to be replaced, adding to the total cost of printing.
You should know that, if you don’t print often, investing in a laser printer is a great idea as toner cartridges don’t dry out the way that inkjet printer cartridges can when left idle for a long period of time. While Laser printers are best-known for black and white printing, ones that will also print in color have been around for a while and have become more affordable, in recent years.
Inkjet Printers: Inkjet printers propel drops of ink onto paper, either through vibration, heat or an electric charge. This tends to be a much more economical process than laser printing, but can be messier and lead to streaks in printed images and text as the dyes don’t dry as fast as the roller can move the paper through the printer.
Paper quality can have a large impact on the quality of an inkjet print job. Paper specifically designed for use with an Inkjet printer (like this Hammermill Paper (available at Amazon) will absorb ink better than standard printer or photocopy paper, leading to less streaked images and sharper-looking text.
What to Look for in a Printer
A good printer should be able to be set up using simple instructions that allow you to connect the printer to your home’s router for wireless printing or directly from your computer via USB. Using it should be intuitive: Its interface shouldn't produce cryptic messages or error codes that send you to the internet to figure out what's going on.
A solid printer should allow for printing from a wide variety of devices, including smartphones, tablets, Wi-Fi enabled cameras and computers. Being able to print directly from USB media or SD cards is also a welcome feature And, when the time comes to scan, copy and print documents or photos from any of these devices, doing so should be an intuitive experience for users.
When scanning photos that are printable at the same quality as they were captured at, making them suitable to hang in your home or to use as part of a multimedia presentation
- Allow users to quickly change what kind or size of paper they’re using
Alex Kane is a senior editor at USA Today’s Reviewed and the author of the Boss Fight Books volume on Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. He has written for Fangoria, PC Gamer, Polygon, Rolling Stone, StarWars.com, and Variety. He lives in west-central Illinois.
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