What's a quality home printer these days?
September 20, 2021 3:19 PM   Subscribe

We need to replace our failing Epson printer/scanner at home with something new. Must print color and black & white at 8.5" x 11", must have a scanner built in, must connect through wi-fi / Apple AirPrint / USB, and must actually print text at a decent quality and last a few years. Where's the affordable action these days on home printers?

In my research I can only find cheap, junk printers or expensive office printers. Finding a color printer for home use is even worse, as everything I see is B&W only or a color photo printer that prints small sizes. There's nothing in the $150-$200 sweet spot anymore that doesn't have miserable reviews. I've had good experiences in the past with Epson, Canon, and Brother, so those are the brands I'd prefer. HP put me off with their subscription ink program. Please, point me in the right direction.
posted by Servo5678 to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Brother laser printer is always the standard answer. We got the 2270DW(?) about 10 years ago and it's been an absolute delight.
posted by rossination at 3:43 PM on September 20, 2021 [5 favorites]

Ah crap I didn't see that you needed a scanner. Mods, feel free to delete my comment if it cleans things up.
posted by rossination at 3:44 PM on September 20, 2021

Unfortunately, at the rate the companies replace their products, if someone recommends something they've had for a few years, there's a good chance that that specific model is no longer manufactured.

I've had an Epson Artisan 710 for at least five or six years that meets all your requirements and has never had any major problems — just the usual inkjet printer annoyances. It's discontinued, and the replacement is a little over your price range, but when I need to replace it, I'll look at whatever the official replacement model is at that time.
posted by jonathanhughes at 4:03 PM on September 20, 2021 [2 favorites]

I have a Canon printer/scanner combo that has seen light use over many years and is still working perfectly.
posted by SPrintF at 4:27 PM on September 20, 2021

I know you don’t want to spend the money, but your life will be better if you buy up to a laser multifunction. Inkjets are just terrible.
posted by doomsey at 4:29 PM on September 20, 2021 [10 favorites]

I've had HP Officejet Pros for many years and they have been totally reliable workhorses for me. True the ink cartridges are ridiculously expensive, but they can fax, scan, copy, and print just fine when I need them to.
posted by jasper411 at 4:50 PM on September 20, 2021

Best answer: I got a Brother MFC-J4335DW INKvestment Tank All-in-One Color Inkjet Printer this summer,* so I can't speak to it's longevity yet.

*although to be fair, the model was just released this summer so no consumer has long term data on this.

So far it's been mostly fine*. The build construction feels like it was definitely built to meet a certain price point ... so kinda of like okay ish Ikea furniture? I do appreciate the duplexing feature. While I haven't used inkjet printers in over a decade, I don't think this one is any worse than what I remember. And so far, I do find the ink tank printers an improvement over regular ink jet cartridges.

*I really miss the awesome laser printers at the office where I didn't pay for printing supplies .
posted by oceano at 5:56 PM on September 20, 2021

must have a scanner built in
It would help to know some more detailed requirements here. Do you need an automatic feed scanner that can handle high volumes of 2 sided copies? Or are you just doing occasional scans of single sheets or small documents?

I mention this because smartphone based scanning apps can now fulfil the second type of function much better (IMHO) than traditional "all in one" printer/scanners. It may be that the best recommendation here is:
LOW VOLUME SCANNING: Use a smartphone app and buy a dedicated printer without a scanner. Probably a laser printer.
HIGH VOLUME SCANNING: Get a dedicated laser printer and a separate dedicated document scanner. This also would apply if you frequently wish to do scans of things like transparencies.
posted by rongorongo at 3:02 AM on September 21, 2021 [2 favorites]

I have an HP that I love(d), but had to turn off firmware updates because they made it so that it bricked unless one bought HP ink, which -- as is mentioned above -- is stupid expensive.
posted by Hey, Zeus! at 6:33 AM on September 21, 2021

I'd buy a laser printer and do your color photos from online services or pharmacies. We get a few photos a month from Walgreens or CVS for free. Shutterfly does free photobooks (hard bound books of your photos!) a few times a year, you just pay $5 for shipping. Even if you have to pay, each print is $1-3 dollars. Managing our own ink and printers was far more expensive.

I got a usb plug-in Brother portable scanner that was like $50. It's awesome.
posted by The_Vegetables at 11:10 AM on September 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

We have a Brother MFC machine with "InkVestment" as well, which is just Brother's snazzy name for "comes with a full ink cartridge" (as opposed to the de facto standard "starter" cartridges that a lot of inkjets come with).

It works fine. Not spectacular, but fine. Prints monochrome pretty quickly; color is more slow. Automatic duplexing feature works pretty well on the print side. The duplexing scanner can sometimes be less than reliable if the pages aren't perfectly flat and separated before going into the automatic document feeder. Scans to USB sticks as well as onto a network share or back to a computer (via a very overgrown printer driver utility on Windows).

Seems to work fine on both Mac and Windows 10 machines, although I have only ever used the basic print functionality on Mac.

I haven't really run any math on the per-page printing cost, but my gut feeling is that it's lower than most other inkjets we've had in the past owing to the relatively large ink tanks, but it's not as low as our old HP CMYK lasers or our old Xerox/Tektronik Phaser (wax ink printer). Sadly both of those went to the recycler due to prohibitively expensive drum replacement needs in the end.

The closest current model to the one we have seems to be the MFCJ4535DW. It looks externally identical, at least, and boasts most of the same features. Not sure if there have been internal changes though.

Like most other inkjets, if you don't use it regularly you can expect to have to run a cleaning cycle or two in order to get the heads clean and prevent streaking, when you do decide to fire it up. We generally use it at least once a week, so this hasn't been a huge problem, but I wouldn't recommend it for very occasional use either.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:18 PM on September 21, 2021

I have an HP that I love(d), but had to turn off firmware updates because they made it so that it bricked unless one bought HP ink, which -- as is mentioned above -- is stupid expensive.

This was also my experience with an HP laser printer: great until the company went to elaborate lengths to modify its firmware to prevent reasonably priced third party ink from being used by its customers. It was possible for me to reverse this upgrade - (and block future ones) - but only with several hours of very nerdy R&D. So: whatever model you choose, I would recommend that you look at (say) Amazon reviews of the replacement cartridges for the machine before you buy it. Are people able to successfully get these cartridges to work - even in more recent reviews?

(Bear in mind also that, for laser printers, the capacity of the cartridges the machine comes with, is usually less than that found when ordering a replacement.)
posted by rongorongo at 11:58 PM on September 21, 2021

Response by poster: Thank you so much, everyone. You've been a big help. We're going with the Brother MFC-J4335DW. I miss the days of fairly priced printers that lasted a while and took third-party ink. Now it's all disposable trash and they soak you on the ink.
posted by Servo5678 at 8:52 AM on September 22, 2021

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