With tons of people now working from home, we’ve seen a renaissance for home printers and printers for small home offices. If you’re one of the many folks who need their own printer, CNET is here to help you find the right one. We’ve roamed over the changing landscape of printers to bring you the best models available this year, so you can print photos, documents, college essays and more whenever you need to.
Every printer profiled below can manage basic printing needs. For example, they can handle mobile printing and wireless printing from a phone or any PC, Mac or Chromebook, which is a must when it comes to office printers. They can also print over a cabled connection and via wireless printer connectivity. (Note that some, but not all, printers support Apple’s AirPrint and Google’s Cloud Print protocols, which are usually less onerous than the printer vendors’ proprietary systems.)
Which is the best overall printer?
For a home office that has just one or two people using it, the HP OfficeJet Pro 9015e is the best overall choice. The print speed is excellent and all the printed words were crisp and clear. This isn’t a photo printer, and it shows, but it works well enough for daily imagery tasks. If you are using it to print brochures or word documents this is an almost perfect printer for you.
Factors to consider when buying a printer
What you intend to print will determine which is the best printer for you. If you’re mostly working with shopping lists, concert tickets or travel itineraries, having excellent print quality is arguably less important than print speed and price. If you’re using your printer for professional materials or photo printing, then color accuracy, printing quality and the inclusion of features like borderless printing will be primary considerations when you’re looking for the right printer.
Another factor to consider is the cost of ink and ensuring you have enough ink to print everything you need. (There’s nothing more frustrating than having a printer but no ink in the ink tank.) Inkjet printers use liquid ink to print, whereas laser printers use toner cartridges containing powder. So even if you’re getting a great printer deal, just be sure to do some research into how you’ll refill the ink, so you can choose the best printer for your overall budget. Some new printers include an ink subscription in their original price tag, so that may be something to consider as well.
I have testing this latest crop of printers for over a year now, with dozens of printers running at the same time. It gets a little noisy but each printer I test narrows down the best overall. Those are the ones we are listing here. That list of course will change over the
Best printers of 2023
How we test printers
For a long time, CNET’s methodology for testing printers didn’t change. Our original testing was designed in the days when Wi-Fi printers were rare, and faxing was an important consideration when choosing a device. These days, Wi-Fi is standard, app-controlled printers are everywhere, and what and how we print have changed considerably. I designed a new set of printing parameters in 2022 that I hope will mesh with how we use printers nowadays.
Print and copy speed
The speed at which things print and copy is important in our daily lives. Printing a quick theater ticket or copying a document needs to be done speedily and accurately. Testing this is easy; I simply used a stopwatch and printed 10 pages of text of varying sizes and typefaces. I used Fillerama to generate random text from Star Wars and Monty Python and changed the font size randomly across the page. I also used different fonts, like Arial and Times New Roman, to see how they’d print. I even added Comic Sans to the mix, because some people still think it’s a good idea to use it. Middle managers mostly.
Brochure and webpage test
When asked, people told me they use their home printer for printing online tickets from webpages as well as their resumes for job interviews. With that in mind, I used the standard brochure template from Google Docs, which I changed a little — I made the font size smaller and larger and changed the font too — to give that modern resume look. I also saved my article about becoming a Star Wars action figure into a PDF — I needed to keep the ads the same on every test, so the live article wouldn’t do. Sometimes we’re in too much of a rush to select just the ticket, so printing the entire webpage is easier. This test simulates that.
When you work from home, you often have to submit your receipts for travel and incidentals. One of the most common ways to do that, if you aren’t lucky enough to have an app, is to tape receipts to a piece of paper and scan them into your computer. That way you can email them wherever they need to go quickly and easily. To re-create that, I taped my receipts from my food shopping to create a scan. I used a mixture of new receipts and ones that had faded in my wallet, then I checked the scan for legibility. Most scanners will enhance the image you’re scanning, and that certainly helps with receipts.
Picture quality test
As in previous CNET photo tests, I used the PhotoDisc Target file for my image tests. I printed images on the same Canon glossy paper and studied them according to the guidelines associated with this industry standard. I took special note of the skin tones at the bottom to make sure they were replicated correctly and I also checked for chromatic abrasion. Chromatic abrasion is a purple hue that often surrounds images and can make even the best picture look cheap and tacky. I also checked for stippling; an image error that occurs on poorly calibrated inkjet printers.