With Coronavirus measures ramped up, many of us now find ourselves having to work from home. Using our own computer, or bringing one home from the office, is generally quite easy but the chances are you might not have a suitable printer for creating hard copy.
If you’re hoping to be working from home just for a couple of weeks or so, you won’t want to splash out on anything too expensive. Thankfully, the best all-in-one printers are relatively cheap to buy and don’t take up too much space in the home.
The best multi-function printers also come complete with a built-in scanner, so you can easily scan documents and send them as email attachments or, in some cases, fax them direct to recipients. It’s also nice being able to photocopy documents and images on the fly. As such, all of the models we’ve chosen for this guide are ‘all-in-one’ or MFD (multi-function device) printers.
Many of us use laptops rather than desktop or tower computers and, if you’re working from home, it’s nice to be able to sit anywhere you like rather than being tethered to a desk. All of our chosen printers therefore have Wi-Fi connectivity in addition to a USB interface, so you can print from anywhere using your wireless home network.
• Read more: Everything photographers need to work from home
All work and no play is never a good thing. A bonus of having a home printer is that you can create high-quality photos in minutes or, in some cases, even seconds, without having to visit a public printing kiosk or upload your images to an online printing company. With this in mind, we’ve chosen inkjet rather than laser printers for all of the models in our guide. Inkjet printers are generally smaller and more convenient to run anyway.
Bear in mind that most inkjet printers are sold with standard-capacity or ‘installation’ cartridges, which can run out fairly quickly. High-capacity XL or even XXL replacement cartridges are often available, which can reduce running costs in the long term, but a full set of these can cost almost as much as the purchase price of the printer itself.
We’ve included a couple of Epson ‘EcoTank’ printers in our round-up, which can reduce running costs and add convenience if you need to do high-volume printing, although you’ll naturally need to pay a lot more up-front.
Here are the best all-in-one printers for home working to suit a range of different requirements.
Best printers and scanners for working from home
Canon’s five-ink printers typically give you the best of both worlds. The combination of a pigment black ink plus dye-based cyan, magenta, yellow and black inks deliver immaculate quality for crisp mono and color documents, as well as superb photo output.
Known as the Canon PIXMA TS6320 in America, and the PIXMA TS6350 in Europe, this latest model in the line-up has smart paper handling options, including a space-saving motorized output tray that extends from the front, an internal paper input cassette, plus a rear-loading feeder that’s ideal for photo paper and alternative media sizes. Automatic duplex printing is also available, with the potential of saving paper and postage costs. Although there’s no touchscreen, an intuitive onboard control system is based around a high-quality OLED display.
If you’re hoping that working from home is very much a short-term measure, you won’t want to spend more on a printer than you really need to. Good-quality models don’t come any cheaper than this Canon, and it’s a real lightweight space-saver into the bargain. As you’d expect, however, it cuts a few corners. With four inks in total, it’s the only printer in our round-up to run on mono and tri-color cartridges, rather than having separate cartridges or tanks for each ink. It is sold as the Canon PIXMA TS3320 in the US , and the PIXMA TS3350 in Europe
If you print a lot of yellow, for example, you can find yourself throwing away cyan and magenta inks when you need to replace the cartridge. In general though, the optional XL cartridges help keep costs down. Print speeds aren’t exactly quick and double-sided printing can only be done manually but, even so, this PIXMA is a good budget option.
On the face of it, this is a remarkably inexpensive printer considering that it enables all of the usual multi-function scanning and photocopying duties, as well as adding a direct fax facility and even an auto document feeder that can accommodate up to 30 pages. It also takes automatic duplex printing in its stride and generally ticks all of the right boxes for working from home. With only four inks under the bonnet, it’s not ideal for photo printing but does a good job of color documents.
There are individual cartridges for all four colors but the printer is supplied with low-capacity ‘setup’ cartridges which can run out soon after installation. Even so, XL high-capacity replacement options help to drive down running costs.
Bucking the trend of printer manufacturers selling inexpensive hardware and making their money on ink cartridges, this Epson EcoTank printer takes the opposite approach. It’s relatively expensive to buy but leaves ink cartridges out of the equation altogether. Instead, it has four ink tanks and comes with bottles of cyan, magenta, yellow and black inks, with sufficient capacity for printing up to 4,500 mono pages or 7,500 color document pages. Replacement high-capacity ink bottles (if and when you need them) are much cheaper than most regular cartridges.
Other home office-friendly features include auto duplex printing, a 30-sheet auto document feeder and direct faxing with a 100-name/number speed dial memory.
Building on Canon’s rich heritage of five-ink printers, this model goes one better with its six-ink system. You get the usual mix of pigment-based black and dye-based CMYK, plus a ‘photo blue’ ink for more vivid photo output with even smoother graduations. It’s simply the best A4/letter sized photo printer on the market, but it’s equally adept at office duties. Mono and color print speeds are fast and there’s an auto duplex facility.
Further automation extends to a motorized tilting front panel and extending output tray, along with auto paper width detection, which can save setup time when using different sizes of media. Speaking of which, there are dual input paths including an internal cassette and rear feeder. This printer is called the Canon PIXMA TS8320 in north America, and the TS8350 in most other places around the world.
For most home-office needs, an A4/letter sized printer will suffice. However, if you need to create larger output, or maybe fold a larger sheet of paper in half to effectively make a four-page A4/letter sized pamphlet, this 13-inch Epson printer is the ideal solution. It’s also a dab hand at creating A3/11x17-inch photo prints. A major frustration of most large-format printers is that you can find yourself perpetually running on empty, for at least one or more of the ink cartridges.
Typical of Epson’s EcoTank range of printers, this one has high-volume ink tanks instead of cartridges, and is supplied with sufficient ink to create thousands of mono and color documents, or up to 3,400 6x4-inch photos, with correspondingly smaller amounts of larger sizes
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