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The best compact printer in 2021: laptop friendly printers you can take anywhere

best compact printer
(Image credit: Canon)

The best compact printer is the perfect companion for business trips, attending events or even just simply sitting unobtrusively on your desk without taking up loads of space. We've researched the best compact printer that will not only free up office space, but will also suit your budget perfectly.

With remote working having become much more common over the past year or so, having a suitable printer suddenly became a necessity for many people. However, that doesn't mean that you have to give up acres of desk space. Compact printers are becoming increasingly popular – and it's easy to see why.

Unlike the best portable printers, compact printers are able to print on ordinary-sized paper. This means that you can enjoy the perks of a smaller, lighter printer without having to compromise on the logistics of everyday use. 

Being able to save oodles of space isn't the only benefit of the best compact printers. Many have been designed with travel in mind, which means that they can be brought along to meetings and events without any hassle. Meanwhile, some of the best compact printers can also be paired wirelessly to your laptop or tablet. Plus, other models even have rechargeable batteries – perfect for when you're stuck without a plug.

No matter what type of features you're looking for, we've rounded up the best compact printers to help you find the right model for you. 

Best compact printers in 2021

Editor's Choice

(Image credit: Epson)

1. Epson WorkForce WF110

Expensive ink, but this compact printer delivers the goods

Specifications
Paper type: Plain paper / photo paper
Approx paper cost: Varies
Print size: A4
Connectivity: Micro USB, Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct
Footprint: 12.2 x 2.4 x 6.1im / 31 x 6.1 x 15.5cm
Printer weight: 1,600g
Battery: 1 x Li-ion
Compatibility: iOS/Android/Windows/Mac
Available colors: Black
Reasons to buy
+Top-notch print quality+Wi-Fi direct connectivity+Comes with battery
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive inkjet cartridges-A little slow

Able to handle glossy photo paper as easily as it does plain A4, the Epson WorkForce WF-110W is a hugely useful compact printer, lighter than Canon's Pixma TP150, with a rechargeable Li-ion battery built in. Able to connect via Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi Direct, it's an easy printer to set up and get started with, producing prints that a highly detailed and look fantastic (albeit doing so a little slower than other printers on this list). Its inkjet cartridges are a little on the expensive side, so factor that in before making a decision as this is the kind of cost that will mount up over time.

• See also Best all-in-one printers

(Image credit: HP)

2. HP Tango X

A neat portable printer with its own wraparound cover

Specifications
Paper type: Plain paper / photo paper
Approx paper cost: £10 / $10 for 100 6x4-inch sheets (about 10p / 10c per print)
Print size: Up to A4/8.5x11-inch
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Dimensions: 15.3 x 24.4 x 10.2in / 39 x 62 x 26cm
Printer weight: 3,400g
Battery: None
Compatibility: Android, iOS, Apple OS X, Windows, Chrome OS
Available color: White/gray
Reasons to buy
+Full-sized letter printing+Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
Reasons to avoid
-No battery pack-Heavier than most

This printer is available in a naked Tango edition, as well as a Tango X edition that includes a stylish wraparound cover. It’s purely a Wi-Fi printer so has no USB port, but it has a particularly good range of wireless features. Thanks to companion apps for tablets and smartphones, you can easily print from anywhere around the home, down the street or from the other side of the world. You can also use your smart device’s camera as an input device to scan documents and share them via the cloud, email them, or print them to your Tango. HP’s optional Instant Ink plan helps to ensure that you never run out of ink, and you can also receive notifications from your printer, sent direct to your smartphone. All in all, it’s a clever little device but, as with other 4-ink printers, photo quality isn’t the best.

Recommended

(Image credit: Canon)

3. Canon Pixma TR150

An excellent five-ink printer that's easy to transport

Specifications
Paper type: Plain paper / photo paper
Approx paper cost: Varies
Print size: A4
Connectivity: USB, Wi-Fi
Footprint: 2.6x 7.3 x 12.7in / 322 x 185 x 66mm
Printer weight: 2,100g
Battery: Optional
Compatibility: iOS/Android/Windows/Mac
Available colors: Black
Reasons to buy
+Optional battery power+High quality prints+Fits into a bag
Reasons to avoid
-Battery is optional extra-No NFC

Producing five-ink prints of outstanding quality on ordinary or photo paper, the  Canon Pixma TR150 compact printer packs in a lot of technology for a device that can fit inside a standard backpack. Connecting easily to your laptop or other device via USB or Wi-Fi, this inkjet printer can manage up to nine pages per minute in black and white, which is not too shabby at all for a portable device (and color pages are delivered at 5.5 pages a minute)! It's also available at a respectable price, so no need to scrimp and save in order to enjoy top-quality prints from your laptop.

One important thing to note is that this printer can be battery powered –. which is particularly appealing for when traveling – but doesn't come with the rechargeable power pack as standard. In some places you can buy the TR150 with battery as a kit, and others the Canon LK-72 battery is bought separately.

(Image credit: HP)

4. HP OfficeJet 250

A ‘proper’ inkjet printer that can print on plain or photo paper

Specifications
Paper type: Plain paper / photo paper
Approx paper cost: £10 / $10 for 100 6x4-inch sheets (about 10p / 10c per print)
Print size: Up to A4/8.5x11-inch
Connectivity: USB, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Footprint: 14.97 x 15.8 x 10.6in / 38 x 40 x 27cm
Printer weight: 2,0960g
Battery: 1 x Li-ion
Compatibility: Windows/Mac
Available colors: Black
Reasons to buy
+Includes a built-in scanner+Built-in color screen+Rechargeable battery
Reasons to avoid
-Bigger than most compact printers-Photo print quality is mediocre

The OfficeJet 250 is understandably bigger and bulkier than most portable printers but it’s much more compact and lightweight than typical all-in-one or ‘multi-function’ printers. As a scaled-down version of a desktop printer, it enables full-sized printing on letter sized plain paper, as well as on glossy photo paper, and comes complete with a built-in color scanner and color screen, enabling easy photocopying on the fly. A must for portable printing, it also includes its own rechargeable battery pack, so you can print anywhere. The printer uses a pigment-based black ink cartridge and a tri-color dye-based cyan, magenta and yellow cartridge. Quality is good for color documents but not the best for photo output on glossy paper.

(Image credit: Fujifilm)

5. Fujifilm ASK300

The best printer for events photography

Specifications
Paper type: Fujifilm Quality Thermal Photo Paper
Approx paper cost: $120/£130 for 800 4x6in prints (15c/16p each)
Print size: 4 x 6inch (10x15cm), 5 x 7inch (13x18cm), 6 x 8inch (15x20cm)
Connectivity: USB
Dimensions: 10.8 × 17.6 × 6.7in / 27 x 45 x 17cm
Printer weight: 26.4lb / 12kg
Battery: No
Compatibility: Windows/Mac
Reasons to buy
+Best dye-sub printer for pros+Reasonably compact footprint+Large prints (up to 8x6 inch)
Reasons to avoid
-Heavy-Expensive to buy and run

If you're an event photographer looking to deliver a large number of prints on-site, then the Fujifilm ASK 300 is a solid choice of printer. It uses dye sublimation printing to deliver high quality photographic prints using ribbon cartridges - and can give you prints that measure up to 8x6in. It's significantly heavier than the other printers on this list (as it's 12kg, you're not going to be carrying it on the train), however it has a reasonably small footprint at 45 by 27cm, so won't take up too much space. Provided you have your own transport it's a perfectly portable choice, and it's able to spit out high-quality 4x6in prints in 12 seconds. Its ink packs may appear expensive, but one $120/£130 (ish) pack will do you around 800 prints, so the value for money is not bad at all. 

Read more:

Best portable printers
Best photo printer
Best Mac printer
Best large format printer
Best photo paper for inkjet printers
Best online photo printing services
Best wireless printer
Best 3D printers
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Matthew Richards

Matthew Richards is a photographer and journalist who has spent years using and reviewing all manner of photo gear. He is Digital Camera World's principal lens reviewer – and has tested more primes and zooms than most people have had hot dinners! 


His expertise with equipment doesn’t end there, though. He is also an encyclopedia  when it comes to all manner of cameras, camera holsters and bags, flashguns, tripods and heads, printers, papers and inks, and just about anything imaging-related. 


In an earlier life he was a broadcast engineer at the BBC, as well as a former editor of PC Guide.