The best inkjet printer
Even though people don't print as many documents and photos as they once did, it's still important to have a high-quality printer on hand. You never know when you'll need a print in a hurry, and that's where inkjet printers enter the picture. Inkjet printers have a good print quality, and they operate quickly enough to match the needs of most at-home users. They can print both photographs and text documents nicely. Our favorite inkjet printer is the Epson EcoTank ET-4760 Wireless All-in-One printer. It can handle large jobs efficiently, and replacement ink is inexpensive.
Considerations when choosing inkjet printers
One frustration inkjet-printer owners have is the cost of replacement ink cartridges. During the past several years, the initial cost of printer hardware has decreased significantly. But the cost of ink cartridges has remained high. With certain inkjet-printer models, you could spend more for your first set of replacement ink cartridges than you spend on the printer itself.
Before purchasing any inkjet printer, do a little bit of research on how much replacement ink will cost. On average you can expect to replace a cartridge every four to eight months. In busy print environments at home, you could replace a cartridge every one to two months.
Additionally, some inkjet printers will use a tri-color ink cartridge, rather than separate cyan, yellow, and magenta cartridges. The tri-color cartridge is not as efficient because one of the three colors could run out while the other two colors still have ink, yet you still would have to replace the tri-color cartridge. With separate cartridges, you just replace each color as it runs out, ensuring you use all of the ink in the cartridge.
Connection options: Having an inkjet printer that has a WiFi connection option is extremely handy. You then can print from devices like tablets and smartphones. For a wired connection, the majority of inkjet printers can use Ethernet or USB cables.
Extra functions: Some inkjet printers are all-in-one devices, meaning they may have copying, scanning, and/or faxing capabilities in addition to printing.
Display screen: If you're expecting to find quite a few control buttons on the front of a modern inkjet printer, think again. Very few inkjet printers have control buttons built into the printer. Instead, you'll probably issue commands to the printer through a touchscreen display.
Paper tray: For a busy printer, having a high-capacity paper tray allows you to work for longer periods of time without having to stop and refill the tray. A tray that can hold 100 to 250 blank pages will provide a good level of performance. Some inexpensive inkjet printers may have a small paper tray for 25 pages or less, which is inconvenient.
Inkjet printer prices
For the most basic inkjet printers, you can expect to spend $30 to $75. However, they don't have a lot of performance speed. Printers in the $150 to $400 range will deliver excellent performance for busy printing environments.
Q. Can the inkjet printer actually print at the speeds listed in the specifications?
A. Rarely. The numbers that the manufacturer lists are only achievable under perfect conditions. Under real world conditions, the print-speed numbers often will be quite a bit slower.
Q. Do I have to purchase ink cartridge refills from the printer's manufacturer?
A. Third-party ink-cartridge manufacturers may offer replacement cartridges for your printer at a much lower price than the manufacturer does. The quality of the ink in these third-party cartridges isn't always as good as the manufacturer's cartridge, though.
Inkjet printers we recommend
Best of the best: Epson EcoTank ET-4760 Inkjet Printer
Our take: Has a high starting cost, but it uses huge ink tanks, which greatly reduces the cost of replacement ink.
What we like: Made for busy at-home printing environments with a big paper tray. Includes a WiFi connection option.
What we dislike: Weighs 18 pounds, so it's not easy to move around.
Best bang for your buck: Brother MFC-J491DW Wireless All-in-One Inkjet Printer
Our take: Has dozens of buttons on the front of the printer, so you can easily control it.
What we like: Low price point for a printer that can handle high-capacity jobs. Easy to print from mobile devices over WiFi.
What we dislike: Print speed could be better. Replacement inks are expensive.
Our take: Printer is easy to use because it includes a large touchscreen, so you can make changes while standing at the machine.
What we like: Works equally well for photo printing and everyday printing. Includes copying and scanning functions.
What we dislike: Cost of replacement inks is greater than with some other models.
Kyle Schurman is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.