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The Best Printers for 2021

 The Best Printers for 2021

Choosing a printer may sound easy, but once you start diving into all of the available features, making a choice can quickly get daunting. Do you need a basic printer, or do you want it to have scanning and copying abilities, as well? How do you choose between inkjet and laser technology? What’s the difference between a $200 model and a $500 model? Here are some pointers to help you find both the right category of printer and the right model within that type. (And if you're finding it hard to find the one you want in stock as global supply chains continue to struggle, check out our guide to landing tough-to-find tech.)

How Do You Intend to Use Your Printer?

Printers vary widely based on whether they’re for home or business use (or dual use in a home and home office), what you intend to print with them (text, graphics, photos, labels), and whether you need color printing or just monochrome.

Most printers are designed with either business or home use in mind. Generally, business models and are geared toward text and usually graphics, while home printers (generally inkjets) favor photos. Special-purpose options include dedicated and near-dedicated photo printers and label printers. (Even among specialty printers, 3D printers are a special case, and beyond the scope of this discussion.) Even if you primarily want to print photos, you may also want a printer that can do other things, so be clear on the whole scope of your printing needs before you buy.

The Most Common Types of Printer

Most printers are designed to print text, graphics, or photos. Generally, business models use laser technology and are geared toward text (and sometimes graphics), while home printers (generally inkjets) favor photos. Within these considerations, printers still vary widely in output quality for these categories. Some business printers can handle all three output types well enough that they can be used for in-house printing of brochures and other marketing materials.

The Best Printer Deals This Week*

*Deals are selected by our partner, TechBargains

Canon Maxify MB5120 Wireless All-in-One Inkjet Printer — $249.99 (List Price $279.99)

Canon PIXMA G4210 Wireless MegaTank All-in-One Printer — $299.99 (List Price $399.99)

Canon PIXMA iP8720 Wireless Inkjet Printer — $318.00

Canon imageCLASS D570 Wireless All-in-One Laser Printer — $179.99 (List Price $229.99)

Epson EcoTank ET-3710 Wireless All-in-One Inkjet Printer — $309.99 (List Price $379.99)

Want to Save Even More?  DealFinder automatically applies the best promo codes at checkout.

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The two most common technologies, laser and inkjet, increasingly overlap in capabilities, but there are still differences. Most lasers and LED printers (which are identical to lasers other than using LEDs for a light source) print higher-quality text than most inkjets, and almost any inkjet prints higher-quality photos than most lasers—but both technologies have developed considerably in the past several years, and you may be surprised to learn which is best for your needs. See our in-depth discussion of the inkjet vs. laser question for more

the questions of inner technology and output type, there are several more finely grained categories of printer.

Home printers (approximate price range: $50 to $250) are almost exclusively inkjets, and are built for low-volume printing. They tend to be slow, and have high ink costs. They print photos better than text and graphics. Nearly all are multifunction (all-in-one) devices that are able to scan, copy, and often fax as well as print. If your budget is tight, this is where to start looking for an 

Home-office printers ($100 to $400) are largely inkjets, and are built for low- to mid-volume printing. Most areThey are geared toward text and graphics printing over photos. Paper capacity starts at about 100 sheets, and higher-end models can hold up to 500 sheets. Most of these printers can also be used in so-called micro offices (with up to five people), and many are perfectly fine choices for households, especially if a student is printing a lot of documents for school.

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