I need an inkjet printer/scanner that's small & dumb.
October 4, 2021 7:55 AM   Subscribe

Who will walk me through the valley of printer shopping?

I have looked through old AskMes on this topic but the most recent one is from mid-2019 and I don't think the models recommended there are available any longer.

My needs:

- Must play well with my MacBook as well as my kid's windows laptop (and bonus if it can work with their school Chromebook). Ability to print from phone doesn't matter, actually it might even be desirable that the printer is not smart enough to do that.

- Must be inkjet (or otherwise cost-effective ito ink/toner refills).

- Must have scanner.

- Would be nice to have duplex printing ability.

- Must be small, like, as close to the size of a breadbox as we can manage 😅 I don't want to sprain my back trying to lift it.

- Must be usable without logging into the printer account/app. (I've had a pretty traumatic experience with my recent employer-privided HP printer. That dang thing was so creepy. I couldn't access the printer at all unless I used my HP account and app, and one time I got locked out of my account, and another time the app malfunctioned when my computer installed updates, and ugh...)

Help, MeFites? Oh and my budget is $400 tops including shipping & necessary cables.

Thanks in advance ❤️
posted by MiraK to Technology (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: (I am looking at a Canon TR8620 on The Online Shopping Site That Should Not Be Named. It seems promising. Any thoughts?)

(Also this is question #42 for me on AskMe, and I feel like it's super appropriate that I'm asking about printers. If we can crack this one, MeFites, nothing will be beyond us, surely!)
posted by MiraK at 7:59 AM on October 4, 2021

I believe I have sung the praises of Epson EcoTank in the past here on AskMe. I went through any number of other brands, especially HPs, over the years, generally with great frustrations, urges to smash the thing, etc. Then I tried an Epson Ecotank. Not only is it simple and performs flawlessly, but I no longer have to run to Staples for crazy-expensive cartridges every few months. With the Ecotank, you fill reservoirs of the four colors from a bottle, no cartridges involved and the initial supply comes with the printer. A refill lasts seemingly forever. It's pricier than other printers, but you get that back in ink savings. Mine has lasted over three years now, which is some kind of record, and I've never had to threaten it with a sledgehammer, which is also a record. It checks all your other boxes and there are models under $400.
posted by beagle at 8:09 AM on October 4, 2021 [4 favorites]

In a recent thread I comment about Brother's MFC-J4335DW.

It's not the lightest/ smallest printer out there. (But it's no industrial weight anvil either). However, it does have scanning, duplex printing, and relatively reasonable ink replacement costs. (It is a BYO usb cable if one doesn't want to print wirelessly though).

In my own research it seemed that the smaller printers either didn't have a scanner or wanted one to subscribe to an ink subscription. (No thanks).
posted by oceano at 8:18 AM on October 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Must be inkjet (or otherwise cost-effective ito ink/toner refills).

FWIW all my printer woes went away when I switched to laser printing, and toner is ten times the bang for buck compared to ink.

Mine is a Brother HL-somethingsomething, doesn't meet your "includes scanner" requirement unfortunately, so I can't recommend a specific model, but it might be worth considering making the leap from ink to laser.
posted by ook at 8:19 AM on October 4, 2021 [9 favorites]

Best answer: I will say that in 2021, using a phone as a scanner *may* be a reasonable option for light use. (And then get a laser printer).

Otherwise, I think within your price point, an inktank multifunction printer is the "jack of all trades, master of none" option.
posted by oceano at 8:37 AM on October 4, 2021 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: You can use a phone as a scanner? What. (I just googled that and whoa!)

Okay scratch the scanner requirement off my list! Thank you oceano.
posted by MiraK at 8:53 AM on October 4, 2021

Best answer: I hate printers. I've given up and decided best is 1) a simple monochrome laser printer, 2) a phone camera for scanning, 3) the neighborhood print shop for everything else. Let the professionals maintain the #*%^$&% things.

Apologies if that solution isn't really responsive to the question.... It would at least come in under your dollar and space budgets.
posted by bfields at 9:04 AM on October 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You'll find plenty of older simple printers at thrift stores. A little time powering them up, and you can see if they work / print the basic test page. Bring a laptop and usb cable in, and you can verify with your Mac. Then you can just buy new ink cartridges, and avoid the newer "subscription required" models.

My favorite for black and white laser is the Brother HL-2240D, current similar is the HL-L2320D.
What is great about lasers is they don't clog up over time, they can sit a long while between uses.
posted by nickggully at 9:14 AM on October 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

I also really got tired of the never ending problems of inkjets and went for a monochrome laser printer years ago. But! If you're looking, the best thing to do is just look at one of the "Best of" lists like the Wirecutter one about printers. Printers are expensive both in the initial purchase and how often you refill the ink. Doing all that research is annoying and so it's nice to lean on a site that already did it for you.
posted by Jungo at 9:30 AM on October 4, 2021

Wirecutter really likes HP OfficeJet Pro 9015 All-in-One Printer. The dimensions are about 17 x 21 x 11 inches and the weight is about 20 pounds.
posted by wryly at 10:15 AM on October 4, 2021

Response by poster: I bought a Brother L- 2300D which is a black and white laser printer that reviewers say works fine with off-brand toner. The printer cost $180 or so, toner tbd. I've installed and tested a scanner app on my phone. EXCELLENT. This was much less painful than expected. Thank you for your advice!
posted by MiraK at 12:43 PM on October 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

Not going to recommend specific models, but I am fairly happy with my Epson multi-function printer (it's not an Ecotank model, but I can't remember why I ddin't choose one of those).

One thing I'd like to state: IF it is possible in your home office situation, you will find print speed is improved dramatically if you use an Ethernet cable from the printer to your router/gateway and another from your computer(s) to your router/gateway. WiFi is great for removing cables, but has its own issues sometimes.
posted by TimHare at 1:52 PM on October 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

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