This article was recently updated.
In choosing the best printer for you, your first decision should be whether to go for a standard printer, or a multi-function device that includes a scanner and that 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 - color 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.
It's important to keep in mind overall cost of ownership. Don't just look at the initial price and make your determination. Figure out what you'll be printing, how often you'll be printing, and what kind of energy consumption this will require. Then you will be able to make an educated decision.
So let's firstly look at the our favorite inkjet printers - hit the second page for our favorite laser printers. Please remember that the prices shown here are for guidance only.
HP DeskJet 2540 - ($79.99)
This solid photo printer is great for home or small office use. If you want something at a fantastic price, that offers wi-fi connectivity that's capable of printing quality photos from a mobile device, then this is the machine for you.
Just be aware that it doesn't offer a color screen, it doesn't do borderless printing and it is incredibly slow. The device offers nowhere to plug in removable memory cards, there's no internal paper tray, and there's no auto Duplex. But the 2540 holds its own very well considering how cheap it is.
Canon Maxify MB5320
The MB5320 is a wireless inkjet all-in-one printer that is available in the US only for $399.99. It comes with a stacked feature set and robust paper handling that should limit paper jams and spills. The price is a bit steep for the target market (small businesses), and users looking to get high-quality graphic and photo creation, might be disappointed by the quality.
However, the Canon MB5320 would be a sound addition to any small or home office looking for an efficient printer that can handle large volumes of paper without a ton of maintenance.
Read our Canon Maxify MB5320 review
Canon Pixma MG7520 - ($199)
The Canon Pixma MG7520 is a steal for photography enthusiasts who don't need to print large documents or in high-volume. This 17.4 pound printer is only 17.2" wide and 5.9" tall, so it isn't exactly compact, but it is pound-for-pound a solid device. The prints it produces are exact replicas to their digital files. You'll spend hours printing photos and loving every minute of it.
Canon says the MG7520 can print documents and web pages at 15 images per minute for black ink and 10 images per minute for color ink. However, it took us 18 seconds to print one full-color print on plain Letter paper. It took nine seconds to print the same image in black & white on Letter.
When we loaded the tasks to print 20 copies, we were able to print the image in black & white 14 times in one minute on Letter-sized pages, but it took 85 seconds for the image to print once in 300 dpi on Canon Semi-Gloss photo paper. Don't worry though, the print quality warrants the moderate pace.
Brother MFC-L2740DW - ($299)
The MFC-L2740DW is very well suited for small offices or home offices that require a lot of printing. Running costs are good and the unit itself is highly affordable. Although the design and the touchscreen are iffy, the printer itself offers good value for your money.
Epson XP-820 - ($199)
If you're looking for a device that prints high-quality color photos in addition to handling your regular printing tasks, this is a great option. Not every customer will need to shell out for a higher end desktop printer just to print photos from the Grand Canyon. However, the Epson XP-820 is a great option for a household in need of a multi-tasking home office printer that can also print high-quality photos.