What's the best printer to buy? All-purpose printers are a booming market, and you're spoilt for choice, so here's our pick of the best printers on the market right now.
In choosing the best printer your first decision is whether to go for a standard printer, or a multi-function device which includes a scanner and which can also work as a standalone copier.
These aren't much larger than regular printers, but they're a whole lot more versatile, especially when you need to keep a copy of a letter, a bill or any other important document, so our first list includes the best inkjet printers and best multi-function devices.
You should also think carefully about whether to invest in an inkjet or a laser. Lasers are usually associated with office environments, where they produce sharp, smudge-free printouts quickly, quietly and economically, but this can be just as useful at home or in a home office.
And don't imagine that mono laser printers are the only option - colour laser printers are now very affordable, and you can even get get multi-function laser printers, too. So we've also come up with a list of the best laser printers, and not just for office users with budgets to burn, but home users looking for value, quality, compactness and ease of use.
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So let's firstly look at the best inkjet printers around - hit the second page for the best laser printers. Please remember that the prices shown here are for guidance only.
1. HP DeskJet 1000 – £30
How do they do it for the money? It's not just that this printer is cheap, because with most budget printers you get stung later on with high-priced consumables, but the black and tri-colour ink cartridges for the DeskJet 1000 are pretty reasonably priced, and you can get XL high-capacity versions too.
And for a budget printer, it's pretty fast, with a quoted maximum of 16ppm mono, 12ppm colour. There are no fancy extras - you even have to supply your own USB cable - but it does exactly what it says on the box, providing low-cost, fuss-free printing for as little money as possible.
2. Epson Stylus SX425W - £60
The SX425W gives you a a lot for your money, with built-in memory card slots, wi-fi printing and multi-function scanning and copying. It uses Epson's DURABrite inks, which means that the paper is dry as soon as it emerges from the printer, and you get exceptionally clean, bright and smudge-proof output on plain paper.
Photo output is slightly dull by comparison, though, and like a lot of low-cost printers, the SX425W does cost quite a bit to run. It's perfect though, if you want a versatile yet inexpensive document printer for light or occasional use.
3. HP Photosmart 7510 - £120
With print quality very high and prices ultra-low, what can multifunction printer manufacturers do to improve on previous models? This new HP Photosmart 7510 sets itself apart by offering a huge range of features, but it also leaves a few behind.
The HP Photosmart 7510 uses five ink tanks: CMYK, plus a pigmented black for clear, waterproof text. It connects to your Mac through USB or to your home network using Wi-Fi b/g/n, and has AirPrint for printing from iOS devices.
4. Lexmark Genesis S815 - £120
Lexmark's Genesis S815 is full of fresh ideas. Instead of a standard flatbed scanner, this multifunction device uses an image capture system based on a digital camera. It can capture an entire page in three seconds. It boasts a range of integrated mini-applications too. Downloadable apps include a calculator, clock, Facebook and Twitter integration, graph or music paper printing and there's even an app to display news and sports feeds from Apple, ESPN and the BBC. Overall print quality is good, too.
5. Canon Pixma MX870 - £150
If you're looking for a stunning printer for your small office or home office, the Canon PIXMA MX870 is for you. Like most recent Canons, it uses a five-tank system with pigmented black for crystal-clear and waterproof text printing. It can't print directly onto optical discs, but its fax facilities and 35-sheet document feeder are probably more use for a small-office machine.
Connectivity is through USB, Ethernet and WiFi. It took almost five minutes to print our 20-page text document, which is a little slow for an office printer, but its print quality is fantastic.
6. Kodak ESP 9250 - £160
Kodak's top multi-function printer has a much stronger business slant than its cheaper consumer models. Kodak's drive to reduce running costs means both documents and photos could cost you less in the long run, even though the 9250's initial asking price is quite high.
And because it uses just two separate ink cartridges, it's simple to maintain. Photo output is, actually, a tad disappointing, but if the built-in fax machine, 30-sheet automatic document feeder, wi-fi and Ethernet connectivity make up for that.
7. Canon Pixma MG8150 - £193
You can sum up this amazing Canon printer in two words; 'no compromises'. It doesn't compromise on print quality. In fact, it has arguably the best print engine of any multiformat inkjet, with stellar photo printing and crystal-clear text. It makes no compromises on speed either. Our 20-page text document printed in just over four minutes, which is entirely acceptable for a home printer. And nor is its feature set compromised. It can do disc onbody printing, automatic Duplex and more. It's an excellent all-round printer.
8. Canon Pixma iP100 - £200
It's fine using a laptop when visit friends, customers or colleagues, but that's a fat lot of good when your printer's back at the office. The portable Pixma iP100 is the answer, printing anything from photos and business cards to regular A4 documents, and at a decent speed, too.
The rechargeable battery's good for up to 300 prints, which is remarkable in itself, and the quality is fine, both for photos and regular documents, so you could even use it as your everyday desktop printer too.
9. Canon PIXMA iX6850
This A3 printer, the Canon PIXMA iX6850, is a high-quality compact model, designed for home hobbyists and small businesses rather than busy offices. It's inexpensive too, dropping to £186 on Amazon. Previously, A3-capable printers have been too bulky and too expensive to make any great inroads into the home market, but the Canon PIXMA iX6850 is both affordable and compact – or at least as compact as an A3 printer can be.
10. Brother MFC-J6910DW - £284
If you need to print in A3, this Brother printer can be bought for under £400. It's as compact as it's possible to be for an A3 multifunction device, sturdily built and has two paper trays so you can load A3 and A4 paper simultaneously, and a rear sheet feeder for the occasional photo paper print or letterhead. Connectivity is through USB, Ethernet or WiFi, and it features an 8.3cm touchscreen.
Like many Brother printers, the MFC-J6910DW's print quality is merely workmanlike. Text is a little grey, and photos are a little over-red. But it's fine for day to day use.