There’s something inherently satisfying about a physical print in our digital age. Electronic files can be sent almost instantly all around the world, but nothing quite beats having a great print in your hand, or hanging on the wall in your home.
Choosing the right printer for your needs can be quite a task, with many available at a range of prices and purposes. You can pick up some home printers as cheap as chips, but in some cases the low quality results really don’t justify the savings. The best thing to do is look for a printer that’s within your budget, yet still delivers good results.
Here’s our pick of the best value printers you can find right now...
1. Canon Image Prograf Pro-1000
This model really pushes into the category of professional printer.
For a home printer, it definitely isn’t a budget option, but it will take your prints to the next level. The ink tanks are large capacity (80ml), so the ink will need to be replaced less frequently, and the nozzles have been designed to prevent wastage from the 12 ink cartridges. It’s able to print up to A2 size and can produce borderless, top-quality prints. It doesn’t restrict you in terms of media either, as it’s compatible with a variety of types including gloss, matte, fine art papers and canvas. Of course, it’s got Wi-Fi and ethernet connectivity and plug-ins for photo applications. The print quality is nothing short of mind-blowing, with extremely accurate colours. If you have the money, and the space – as it’s far from compact – you can’t go wrong with this Canon model and it’s pro-quality prints.
Size (WxHxD): 723x285x435mm
2. Brother DCP-J4120DW
If you’re after a printer that’s sleek, compact and stylish, then the Brother DCP-J4120DW will fit the bill nicely.
The compact size makes it ideal for home offices, as it won’t take over too much space, and while it’s not brimming over with features those present are ideal for most home printing needs. It offers up to A3 size prints, and will copy or scan up to A4. To save on paper, it’s able to print double-sided and has the option to do so automatically. It’s wireless-ready and can connect to your mobile device or the Cloud, enabling you to print directly from these sources instead of having to plug your printer into a device. You can also print directly from a USB stick or SD card. Menu navigation is easy, thanks to the 7cm touchscreen for controlling the settings and options. It may not be top-notch quality, but for the price this is a solid choice for the whole family to use.
Size (WxHxD): 480x163x290mm
3. HP Envy 4520 All-in-One
With a sleek, stylish and compact design, the HP Envy 4520 All-In-One will seamlessly fit wherever you need it.
It will also print in Quiet mode, which is perfect if your chosen spot is the corner of the lounge and you need to print without causing any disruption. Although compact, it has the ability to scan, print and copy, and at just 5.4kg is light enough to move around if needed. The 5.5cm mono touchscreen can be used to navigate menus quickly and easily, and as it’s mono it matches the overall design of the printer itself, adding to the minimal and chic overall look. You can also print directly from your smartphone or tablet using Wi-Fi. The HP Envy 4520 is economical, with automatic double-sided printing. And when used with the very handy HP Instant Ink Service, ink can be automatically sent to you when your ink levels are running low. This compact printer is good value for the featureset, and perfect for home use.
Size (WxHxD): 445x128x367mm
4. Fujifilm Instax Share SP-1
The Fujifilm Instax Share SP-1 won’t print your boarding cards, or create perfect images for your picture frames, but it is an incredibly fun way to print snapshots from your phone.
Just shoot your images on your smartphone, then send them wirelessly to the printer via the app. The printer is small and portable, enabling you to print anywhere and at anytime. It’s also compatible with many Fujifilm cameras, meaning you can print straight from your camera. The app allows you to edit your shots before you print them and add effects such as black & white, sepia or colour alterations. This printer isn’t an investment purchase, as its uses are fairly limited, but it does provide a fun, speedy way to record your memories on print. It’s not particularly cheap though, as when you factor in the cost of film it costs around £1.50 per print, making this a product that you may want to use sparingly.
Size (WxHxD): 102x42x123mm
5. Epson EcoTank ET-2550
Epson has created the ultimate economical printer with the Eco Tank ET-2550.
Printing costs have been reduced by 70% (compared to the top ten best-selling models), thanks to the use of ink tanks instead of cartridges and when using the bundled ink. Although the initial cost is a little on the pricey side, long-term you will see a dramatic saving in running costs. It even comes with two years’ worth of ink, meaning that you shouldn’t need to think about ink for quite a while after buying this printer. Capable of printing from mobile devices, via email and the Epson app, the ET-2550 can print, scan and copy, which covers most of your day-to-day printing needs, but can’t print larger than A4 so may not be suitable if you’re wanting a printer that can enable larger or more creative printing. The 4cm LCD screen allows for easy navigation through the menus. A cost-effective solution.
Size (WxHxD): 489x169x300mm
This group test was first published in the October 2016 issue of Practical Photography - download back issues here.