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 using eight of the most popular printers on the market for weeks, we can tell you that the HP Officejet Pro 8035(available at HP) is your best option. It’s easy to set up, easy-to-use and produces crisp black and white or colored documents or photographs. During testing, we found that it scanned well and made excellent copies of anything we threw 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 were less impressed with the colored documents it produced.
Here are the best home printers we tested ranked, in order:
HP Officejet Pro 8035
HP Color Laserjet Pro M479dw
HP Envy 6055
HP Laserjet Pro MFP M148fdw
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.
I’m Lela Gwenn. As a comic book writer, printers are indispensable to me. I’ve always found focusing on a script, when viewed on my computer’s display, to be difficult. I do my best work, poring over a printed copy of my writing. Additionally, being able to print out quality color copies of pages that the artists I work with produce, is an incredibly important part of my workflow.
I know what to look for in a good printer, and I want to make sure that you do, too.
To choose which printers to include in this guide, I looked at reviews from a wide number of trusted sources to see which brands and models people were in love with. I also considered new printing technology, like Epson’s Ecotank system (we’ll get to that in a bit), that people might not have had a chance to experience yet.
Most importantly, I made sure to choose printers from a wide spectrum of different price points, because a high price doesn’t always translate into high quality.
I chose to focus on two areas of testing: how easy each multifunction printer was to set up and use and, how well it did the jobs of printing, copying and scanning.
During my set up tests, I determined how difficult it was to assemble each printer, install its ink or toner cartridge and, where possible, connect it to my home network. Once connected to the network, I inspected how easily each printer could take input from USB key (where applicable), wirelessly using the printer’s included drivers/software on my laptops, and wirelessly, using each printer’s companion app for iOS and Android smartphones.
Next, I tested each printer to see if it functioned as advertised when connected to Android and iOS devices, as well as Apple and Windows PCs, by doing the following:
Printing a copy of the manual that came with each of the printers
Scanning the printed manual and then, printed my scanned copy so that I could compare any difference in quality between the scanned document and the original copy
Using 4 x 6 glossy photo paper, I printed out a high-quality JPEG image of my cat, who is very cute
For printers that were unable to accept 4 x 6 photo stock, I printed an 8 x 10 photo of my cat (so cute) on 20-pound white printer paper
For each printer in my test group, I gauged how difficult it was to print documents and how easy it was to scan a document. How well the smartphone and laptop apps were to use, the general user-friendliness of each printer and their build quality were also taken into account.
Finally, To test overall print quality and double-sided printing (where applicable), I printed a resume, in color and in black and white, on 20-pound white printer paper and 32-pound antique gray paper stock.
What You Should Know About Printers
Laser vs. Inkjet: What's the Difference?
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
Other Printers We Tested
HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M479fdw
The HP Color Laserjet pro m479dw was much larger than the other printers we tested. It’s big and screams “I belong in a fancy office”. However, we were happy to set it up at home: connecting it to PC, Mac & phone apps was almost effortless and using the USB stick to print was a breeze.
I’m pleased to say that the quality of the scanned capture was very crisp and color true. Documents printed by the m479dw on plain or heavyweight paper were very good. Photo printing was clear and there wasn’t a single streak. The advantage of the laser copier shows here—streaking simply isn’t a problem.
I did have some hiccups between paper changes, I had to tell it what kind of paper I was changing to sometimes more than once. When printing photos, m479dw added a border much larger than the other printers I tested did.
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 HP Laserjet Pro MFP M148fdw is one of two black and white only multifunction laser printers reviewed for this guide. Unfortunately, it did not perform well.
The MFP M148fdw quickly printed crisp, legible sing and double-sided text documents. However, scanning a photo produced a copy that was markedly lighter than the original. As it’s not capable of printing to 4 x 6 photo stock, the only way to print images are on ordinary printer paper. Even when scanned at a high resolution 1200 dpi setting, the M148fdw produced a blurry grayscale image that I found unacceptable. It was unreliable in other areas, as well.
On several occasions, the printer grabbed multiple sheets of paper at a time, sending them through the printer, together—an issue that could lead to paper jams. While attempting to print a two-page document, it refused to print the second page. Worst of all, I was unable to connect the M148fdw to its companion HP Smart app, which left printing from a mobile device out of the question.
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.
In order to use the Lexmark MB2236, you’ll need to download two apps: the Lexmark Mobile Assistant app, which allows you to set up the printer and the Lexmark Mobile Printing app, which lets you put it to work. The Mobile Assistant app made setting up the printer a breeze. Printing using Lexmark’s Mobile Printing app? Not so much. Print jobs created in the Mobile Printing app would queue but refused to print, with no way to clear the queue.
I experienced similar issues while attempting to print from my Windows and Apple laptops. After requesting that a document be printed, a small box would pop up in the corner of my computer’s display to tell me that the print job was queued, however, nothing would print. More frustrating than this, there was no way to clear the print queue. I turned to Lexmark’s troubleshooting suggestions to resolve these issues but was unsuccessful in finding a solution to the issue. Be ready to connect to the MB2236 using a USB cable.
Loading the MB2236 with paper proved to be something of a challenge as well. The paper tray is hidden, requiring that a door in the back of the printer be opened before it can be loaded up with paper. That the paper tray is fragile makes this process all the more stressful.
With its chunky buttons and office photocopier good looks, the Brother MFC-J805dw looks like it could be a time traveller from 1996. That connecting it to my home network took longer than logging on to AOL with a glacially slow dial-up connection reinforced this. The printer seems to take forever to find my network and eventually froze. The only indication that it was doing anything was a message on its display that stated the printer was busy and to try to connect again later. ‘Trying again later’ involved unplugging the printer from the wall and plugging it back in so that I could restart it.
Despite re-downloading drivers, downloading the Brother IPrint & Scan app on iPhone and Android, trying to connect to the printer via Bluetooth, and restarting my wireless router—all troubleshooting suggestions provided by Brother—I came to the conclusion that nothing from the outside world can be connected to the MFC-J805dw. The only thing I was able to print was a copy of the MFC-J805dw’s setup instructions. They came out crisp, clear and with good color.
Finally, as it lacks a USB port, it wasn’t even possible for me to print a file from a USB stick or export scanned documents or photos.
I cannot recommend this printer.
Acceptable print quality
Frequent errors that demand the printer be unplugged to resolve
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