Hot off the press: the best printers for homes and small businesses

Try as we might, we still haven’t quite gotten to a truly paperless workplace. Paper is just too handy to give up -- whether it’s passing out handouts at a meeting, or leafing through the latest quarterly finance report. Also, in spite of the rise of tablets and e-readers, there’s nothing quite like the feel of crisp paper underneath your hands. 

But while the allure of a shiny new printer is hard to resist, put it on hold for a while, and take a brief step back. It’s important to know what your needs are. Will you be printing presentation slides and posters, full of vibrant colours? Or are you just looking for something that’ll churn out entire reams of black and white document without breaking a sweat? Or maybe you’re just looking for the cheapest printer available on the market. Regardless of what your business needs, make sure you’re making the right purchase with our list of best printers for homes and small businesses.

HP Envy 5540

Image: HP

While consumer preferences may be shifting towards laser printers nowadays, due to their higher speed and lower cost per page, HP still makes some of the best inkjet printers on the market. For small-scale everyday use, the HP Envy 5540 is a name that pops up often. While it may have a relatively slow page-per-minute (ppm) output, its scans are lightning-fast. Furthermore, it both prints and scans in eye-popping detail.

But the Envy 5540’s main appeal is its 15-page photo tray. Rather than having to deal with the hassle of replacing the paper in the main tray every time you want to print photos, the Envy 5540 has its own dedicated glossy photo tray -- useful for aspiring graphic designers and photographers. If you’re looking for a photo-printing, scanning and copying inkjet, that has the added bonus of being easy on the wallet, and an automatic duplexer, the Envy 5540 looks to be your weapon of choice. 

HP Pagewide Pro 552dw

Image: TechRadar

HP continues its trend of making solid inkjet printers with its PageWide series, introduced in March this year. Competing against similarly-sized laser printers for small- and medium-sized businesses, the PageWide series miniaturises technology used in large-scale industrial printers. Rather than have a printhead move back and forth on the page as the paper inches along, like a traditional inkjet printer, HP’s PageWide technology instead has a wider, stationary array of ink nozzles that sprays ink on the page as it rolls past. This gives the PageWide series the best of both worlds: inkjet-level quality at laser printer speeds.

The largest printer on this list, the PageWide Pro 552dw is meant for medium-sized businesses of five to 15 people. With a duty cycle of up to an absolutely staggering 80,000 pages per month, this multifunction printer has printing, scanning, and even in-built wireless capability. But it’s a printer first and foremost, and that’s exactly what it does best -- with speeds of up to 70 ppm, and beautiful colour reproduction, the PageWide Pro 552dw is a game-changer.

Brother MFC-L2740DW

Image: Amazon

The middle ground between the two above, the Brother MFC-L2740DW is the first laser printer to make this list. The natural successor to the MFC-L2700DW, the L2740DW brings everything good its younger brother had, including automatic duplex, wireless connectivity, a beautiful scanner and the ability to print from mobile devices. Also, it has full fax functionality, if the need for it ever arises (fax is always good to have as a contingency!).

But speaking of scanners: the main upgrade over the L2700DW is the L2740DW’s duplex scanner. This means that you can feed documents into the scanner, and it will scan both sides of the sheet simultaneously. Furthermore, the L2740DW lets you scan directly to specific file formats, such as Microsoft Word, Excel or PowerPoint. The excellent suite of Web connectivity features then lets you save your scanned images directly to Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox or one of many other online cloud services.

Canon imageClass LBP151dw

Image: B&H Photo Video

Let’s say you already have a fantastic scanner, a wonderful photo printer, a photocopier, and (for some reason) a fax machine in the office. All you’re looking for to round out the collection is a printer -- reliable, efficient, cheap, and just gets the job done, no questions asked. What you need, and what some might say is a relic of times past, is a single function printer. 

Nowadays, there are very few single function printers left. Many offices and home businesses have switched to heavy-duty multifunction printers. Nonetheless, Canon still makes a cheap, humble contender for those who want a no-frills, mono-only printer. Inexpensive, small, and unobtrusive, the imageClass LBP151dw is cheap to refill, prints wirelessly, and edges out the competition speed-wise, with a rated speed of 28 ppm. The cherry on the cake is its automatic duplexer, which is surprising in a printer this small.