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Best Printers for Professional Results

Printers have evolved quite a bit in a short period of time. Inkjet printers used to be the low cost and quality solution to the more sophisticated laser printer option, but that's not the case anymore. Both types of printers can print quality pages, it just depends on what kind of printing you want to do. The difference between inkjet and laser is how the ink is applied and adheres to your page. Inkjets spray millions of tiny picoliter size dots onto the page, creating a vast color palette in the image. But there’s the risk the finished product might show slight bleed or a subtle pixelated effect if the printer is a low quality machine. Laser printers use toner, a powdered ink that heats ink to the page to produce an image. Unlike ink, toner doesn't have the risk of wet smudging, but you lose some of the color palette as toner lays down one color at a time and toner ink isn't as deep or thick as regular ink. Text documents and monochrome graphics look great with laser, but if you're looking to print lab-quality photos, ink presents a better color palette and deeper, richer photographic images.

There’s a wide spectrum of printers suitable for every budget. Some have limited paper capacities for smaller jobs, making them better for home or personal use. Larger paper capacities are better for office environments, so you're not constantly replacing paper. Extra features like auto document feeders and duplex printing make large and complicated jobs easier to do as the machine does much of the work for you.

One of the more resourceful and popular options at the moment is the "all-in-one" printer. These printers are capable of not only printing, but scanning, faxing and copying. These machines are one of the best options because they can do so many things in one easy-to-use unit. Plus, many of them offer the highest quality printed, scanned, and copied pages, with resolution of up to 9600 x 2400 dpi (dots per inch) for color prints.

Wireless printers is a hot commodity now too. Printers can now print documents and photos directly from mobile devices and web-based cloud services. Many of them can also accept USB drives and memory cards to download your material directly to the printer's hard drive, eliminating the need for a PC or laptop altogether. Office environments may want a printer that multiple employees can use along a shared network and there are quite a few that offer this type of connectivity.

Lastly, when choosing a printer, consider print speeds. Print speeds not only refers to the time it takes for a printer to finish printing a document (rated at pages per minute or ppm), but also to something called "first print out". This clocks the amount of time it takes for a printer to receive and process data from a printing source to when it starts the print job. Beware of the advertised print speeds from many manufacturers, however, they're not all accurate. Some manufacturers claim faster speeds but neglect to mention those are only attained at lower quality output, when the speed for high resolution prints is considerably slower. Check out our list of the best printers in 2021 to learn more.

The Best Printer Models of 2021 in Detail

Canon PIXMA PRO Color Professional Inkjet Photo Printer - Best Printer Overall

The key to the PIXMA PRO-100's high performance is the Optimum Image Generating System. Canon has developed this technology to analyze each and every photograph through a range of factors like grain, tone gradation, black density and color hue to reproduce the truest image based on the photographic image you've taken. Then the PRO-100 uses eight different color inks, including three monochrome colors of black, grey and light grey, to print your photo.

Canon's patented nozzle heads re-create your image through microscopic beads, blended together in a highly sophisticated mixture of inks that develop an image captured in high-resolution of up to 4800 x 2400 dpi. There is one limitation here though, the PRO-100 can only print images up to size 13x19.

The PRO-100 is Wi-Fi enabled and you can send images to the printer through PictBridge or through AirPrint if you use any Mac products such as an iPad or iPhone; either one lets you print directly from a digital camera or camera phone.

HP Photosmart Wireless Color Photo Printer - Runner Up

The HP Photosmart 6520 e-All-in-One Printer Photo all starts with the 3.45 inch touchscreen, which allows you access to all menus and controls on the 6520. You can print, copy, scan, and access the Internet, just by touching and swiping the screen. Using HP Wireless Direct, the 6520 lets you print photos from any source such as a smartphone, laptop, or tablet, all without hooking the printer or your source to a network.

Your pictures are lab-quality clear and detailed, with 4800 dpi color and 1200 x 600 B&W resolution, while your print speeds will vary depending upon what you're printing. The 20 sheet photo paper tray can accommodate 5 x 7 prints in conjunction with an 80 sheet main tray for your other printing needs besides photos.

As for those extra bells and whistles, the 6520 has automatic duplexing for printing on both sides of the page and eFax compatibility, but there's no automatic feeder here nor a USB port to enable printing directly from cameras or USB thumb-drives.

Canon PIXMA Wireless Color Photo All-In-One Printer - Consider

The PIXMA line has always been one of Canon's most popular and dependable products, and this MG7120 might just be the best of the bunch. Photo printing output is what makes it such a recommended purchase, using a special six-ink system of black, pigment black, cyan, gray, magenta, and yellow, the unit provides some astounding image quality.

Lush, vibrant colors utilizing a widely varied palette of shades and hues, with deep, consistent blacks, and neither color nor monochrome has any hints of banding or soft edges. Your photos are thoroughly reproduced as if you had them professionally made.

You also have a choice of convenient features for remote printing from mobile devices and cloud storage applications. A 3.5 inch color touchscreen lets you edit your photos and navigate menus effortlessly and best of all, print speeds are well beyond satisfactory for output even at high resolution.

The unit itself runs about $100 but your expenditures don't end there, Canon suggests you use the highest quality papers and specific inks inside the machine, neither of which are cheap. However, if you're looking for the sharpest imaging that looks almost as if it came from a laser printer and not inkjet, then the MG7120 may just be the printer for you.

Brother Printer Work Smart Wireless Color Inkjet All-In-One Printer - Best Budget Inkjet Printer

The MFC-J870DW not only offers some of the most advanced and varied wireless options you can find on any machine at this price point, but set up couldn't be easier. You can choose between wireless (802.11b/g/n) or wired Ethernet networking or go mobile with Brother's web-based apps. The unit is also equipped with Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, so all you need to do is touch your similarly equipped smartphone or tablet to the NFC region of the printer and you're ready to print.

Print speeds range from 33 ppm black and white, 27 ppm color in fast mode, and 12/10 in high quality. This unit is an all-in-one, so it does everything, print, scan, copy, and fax, and you can even log onto the Internet with it. Go to Facebook, Picasa, Google Drive, Evernote, Dropbox, you name it. You can even print your material directly from those sources. Everything is navigable on the 2.7 inch touchscreen display that’s entirely customizable for quick access to keys and controls you use the most.

Canon Office Products IX6820 Wireless Inkjet Business Printer - Best Home Inkjet Printer

The first thing you should know about Canon's PIXMA iX6820 is the quality of the output. Five individual ink tanks work together to produce gorgeous image quality that always comes out with crystal clarity and lush colors at 9600 x 2400 maximum color dpi. Speed isn't a problem here either, as 4 x 6 borderless photos are produced at a median output time of roughly 40 seconds.

You have a choice of options for the size of your prints, with the Canon able to produce anywhere from 4 x 6 to as large as 13 x 19 per print. But before you produce anything, you can tweak your photos through Canon's Auto Fix II software that helps with exposure and lighting correction to make sure your images look their best. HD Movie Print lets you isolate and print any image from an HD movie clip captured on compatible Canon EOS Digital SLR or Powershot Cameras.

Brother Printer HL5470DW Wireless Monochrome Printer - Best Home Laser Printer

The HL5470DW isn't the newest machine on the market but it's definitely one of the best laser printers you can find right now. Sturdy and fast enough to work for multiple users or a single person who generates a lot of output, this Brother MFP boasts speeds of up to 40 ppm with 1200x1200 dpi resolution. You have a choice of connectivity options, via wireless 802.11b/g/n and Ethernet network interfaces or through a high-speed USB 2.0 interface. The unit works with AirPrint, Google Cloud Print, Cortado, and other apps to enable communication with mobile devices for wireless printing.

Brother's printer has duplex printing capability and can handle a list of paper sizes for all kinds of different jobs, with a 250 sheet capacity paper tray for letter and legal size sheets and an additional 50 sheet tray for printing on letterhead or other custom sizes. Basically, this unit is awesome in every possible way and you should consider owning one. The price pint certainly makes it a tempting choice for your home or even the office.

Hewlett Packard 1102W Laserjet Wireless Monochrome Printer - Best Home Laser Printer

Networking is easy with the HP P1102W printer. Compatible with 802.11 b and g networking standards, the unit is easy to set up with HP's Smart Install technology. There are no CD's or downloadable drivers required since the necessary software is pre-loaded into the P1102W's memory. Just plug it in and with one touch of a button to get it communicating with the router.

Output speeds aren't the fastest ever, with up to 19 pages per minute on standard black and white text documents and almost nine seconds on first print out. As far as resolution is concerned, 1200 x 600 dpi is the highest available here. HP's ePrint app lets you print from any number of compatible mobile devices and HP's Smart Print features lets you conserve resources by editing and re-arranging your documents for less paper and toner usage.

Dell B1160w Wireless Monochrome Laser Printer - Best Home Laser Printer

The B1160w is the wireless version of the same printer with similar output speeds higher than some of the others on our list. Capable of a 21 page per minute output, the Dell prints at up to 1200 dpi resolution and is capable of handling enough jobs to equal about 10,000 pages per month. The B1160w is not a multi-function unit as it only prints. While it won't copy or scan, printing is fast, easy and can be done from a list of compatible wireless devices through Dell's Mobile Print app.

Setup is easy but takes a little more time installation-wise as you have to run the starter CD first to get everything up and running. But after the initial introductions, your printer will be ready to go at a moment's notice. You can also hook the printer up to your computer via USB cable in case you'd rather not go wireless. It's up to you, but if you'd rather stay tethered to your computer, then you might want to go with the B1160 and save a few bucks more.

Samsung Xpress Color Printer SL-C410W/XAA - Best Home Laser Printer

The Xpress C410W is a laser printer that just prints. But unlike the other picks on our list, this one can do print documents in color. But you're going to sacrifice a few things for the luxury since print speed is  just 4 ppm and monochrome comes in around 19 ppm, which is also on the slower side of the spectrum. However, the C410W has some superb print quality. You get five settings to work with and depending on what you're printing, each one is designed to enhance the qualities of your image or text by way of color saturation, contrast and detail.

The biggest selling point here is the Near Field Communication (NFC) printing capability. All you do is simply tap or touch your mobile device or smartphone to the NFC patch on the printer and you're hooked up. Your phone must be NFC enabled however, and being a Samsung product, it works perfectly with their Galaxy line of phones. If your device doesn’t have NFC then this feature won't do you much good.

Epson Expression XP-400 Inkjet Multifunction Printer - Best Budget All-in-One Printer

Epson has been in business for over four decades, and it’s a household name when it comes to printers. Given that, it's not surprising that the Expression Home XP-400 is one of the best printers you can buy on a limited budget.

Epson's marketers got cute and creative with this one, calling it a "Small-in-One". However this isn't much of a stretch as this is a tiny printer. Within its minimal footprint, the XP-400 "Small-in-One" offers a 2400 dpi scanner, copier, and a printer that puts out 8.7 pages per minute (ppm) black and 4.5 ppm color.

The XP-400 comes with 802.11n WiFi, fully compatible with both Apple AirPrint and Google Cloud Print,  but unfortunately doesn’t offer fax capabilities. It's entirely unfair to expect professional-quality prints from a budget-friendly machine, but the XP-400 does offer low-cost operation all around. Ink is cheap and readily available at any office store (or Amazon). For basic home use on a limited budget, this is quite simply the best.

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