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Inkjet printers are ideal for businesses with less demanding printing work but photo and other heavy color art and graphics reproduction needs. Inkjet photo-printing superiority, an aspect that even the best laser printers find challenging, is handy for operations such as real estate agencies, car dealerships, galleries, and more.
One function neatly divides the inkjet world: Those that run on familiar ink cartridges, and ink tank models with ink reservoirs that need to be filled only around once a year. Standard cartridge inkjet models are recommended only for businesses with low or occasional printing needs since ink cartridges need to be frequently replaced. Tank-based printers are better for most businesses since their maintenance needs and per-page costs are lower. Once you determine what and how much you’ll print and what your primary needs are, you’ll be able to narrow your choice to one or two models.
Here are the best inkjet printers for business needs.
Best Overall: Brother MFC-J6945DW
There are few operations that the Brother MFC-J6945DW INKvestment Tank can’t handle well for small businesses with a variety of printing needs. For starters, the printer is convenient and low maintenance: It has dual 250-sheet paper trays plus a 100-sheet multipurpose tray that can handle paper sizes up to 11 × 17 inches, and its refillable ink tanks fuel around a year’s worth of printing. Its single-pass automatic document feeder (ADF) makes scanning two-sided documents quick and easy, as does its speedy claims of 22 pages per minute (ppm) output.
One of its most useful features is the ink remaining indicator: Instead of a vague graphic status representation, this printer tells you exactly how many pages you’ve printed and estimates how many more you can print before the ink tanks need refilling. And for peace of mind, it comes with a longer-than-average two-year warranty.
Best Budget: Canon PIXMA TS5320
The Canon PIXMA TS5320 is the best all-in-one that prints, copies, scans, and faxes for businesses on a budget. It is equipped with front and rear 100-sheet trays (the rear tray can also hold 20 sheets of letter-sized photo paper), claims to produce prints at a reasonable 13 ppm, and requires only two print cartridges (one for black, one for all of the other colors). Plus, the printer measures a compact 15.9 × 14.2 × 5.9 inches when open and loaded, and it even takes voice controls via Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
The major downsides are that there’s no ADF, and if one color in the color cartridge runs dry, then you have to replace the entire cartridge. But if you only print occasionally, this Canon may be the only printer that you need.
Most Compact: HP DeskJet 3755
If you don’t have a lot of printing needs and/or space for a printer, look no further than what HP claims is the world’s smallest all-in-one: around 15.9 x 7 x 5.6 inches. The rear paper tray holds just 60 sheets, the output tray has a 25-sheet capacity, and for scanning or copying, you have to feed documents through a top-mounted scanner. Note that this printer isn’t exactly a speed demon, as it claims to produce just eight black-and-white pages and five color pages a minute.
Still, at just 5.1 pounds, this budget-friendly printer is designed to be easily moved around if, when, and where it’s needed around your home or office.
Best for Home Offices: Brother INKvestment Tank MFC-J6545DW
For a relatively low price, the jack-of-all-trades Brother MFC-J6545DW INKvestment Tank is a fully featured all-in-one that prints, copies, scans, and faxes. It has a 250-page paper cassette and a rear 100-page multipurpose tray, as well as a 50-page ADF and a 3.7-inch color touchscreen. The printer also spits out pages at a speedy 22 ppm for black and white and 20 ppm for color, according to Brother.
Best of all, Brother’s tank-based ink supply system means that you could get a year’s worth of printing without needing to refill, assuming an output of around 300 pages a month, and printed pages run less than a penny for black and white and less than a nickel for color. Though it’s bulky at 12.2 × 22.6 × 18.8 inches, this printer should give you laser-like quality text.
Best for Creative Professionals: Epson Expression Photo XP-8600
Ideal for businesses with creative document needs, the Epson Expression Photo XP-8600 will print borderless 8- × 10-inch photos as well as full-color presentations, flyers, and brochures thanks to its six-cartridge system (cyan, magenta, yellow, black, light magenta, and light cyan). It even prints text down to 6-point type.
As an all-in-one, this printer also copies, scans, and faxes. Its paper tray has a 100-sheet capacity, and its rear tray can hold 20 sheets of premium photo paper. It can even print onto CD, CD-ROM, and DVDs. With a 4.3-inch color touchscreen, this machine can print from SD cards or USB thumb drives. While it prints a bit slowly (reportedly around 10 seconds for a text page and 20 seconds for a photo), the high-quality results will be worth waiting for.
Best for Photos: Canon PIXMA iP8720
If you’re a photographer or your business relies on high-quality prints, then the Canon PIXMA iP8720 is an excellent choice. For one thing, it’s one of the few consumer printers at any price point that can print on 13- × 19-inch photo paper, which means it’s a bit on the bulky side—23.3 inches wide. Since photo printing needs vary, you stack the paper that you need for each specific job in the rear tray instead of in an enclosed cassette drawer.
This printer produces spectacular 9,600 × 2,400 dots per inch (DPI) resolution thanks to its six-cassette system, which includes a gray ink cartridge to improve grayscale and black-and-white photos. While it can print text documents, it doesn’t copy or scan.
Best for Speed: Epson WorkForce Pro WF-4830
For small businesses with high-volume printing needs, the Epson WorkForce Pro WF-4830 produces black-and-white prints at claimed speeds of 25 ppm, two-sided prints at 16 ppm, and color pages at 12 ppm. Even more, its 50-page ADF automatically scans or copies both sides of its loaded documents. To cut down on paper replenishment time, the all-in-one is equipped with two 250-sheet trays. It can also print from a USB thumb drive and has a 4.3-inch touchscreen.
Even though it prints from just four ink cartridges (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black), the printer’s output is among the most finely detailed and highly color-accurate among budget all-in-ones, even if its per-print costs run a bit higher than average.
Best for Small Businesses: Epson EcoTank Pro ET-5850
While admittedly expensive, the Epson EcoTank Pro ET-5850 will save money down the road for small businesses thanks to its low per-page printing costs, which are around 2 cents for either black-and-white or color pages. Even if you’re printing out a ream of paper a day, this printer doesn’t require a lot of care and feeding: Its ink cartridges claim to produce up to 6,000 pages before they need refilling, its two front paper trays hold a total of 500 sheets, and a rear multipurpose tray holds another 50 sheets.
This printer is also reportedly speedy at 25 ppm for both black and white and color and 21 ppm for two-sided pages, and its ADF can scan and copy both sides of a document at once. The printer is controlled via a 4.3-inch color touchscreen and comes with a two-year warranty.
Best for Portability: Canon PIXMA TR150
Canon’s PIXMA TR150 prints almost any kind of document or photo anywhere you need it to, powered either by AC, the optional LK-72 battery pack, or even a portable USB power pack. On a full LK-72 battery pack charge, it claims to produce up to 330 pages pulled from its rear 50-sheet tray. Wi-Fi Direct, Apple AirPrint, or the Android Mopria Print Service lets you wirelessly print directly from a laptop, tablet, or smartphone.
At 12.7 × 7.3 × 2.6 inches closed and weighing 5.1 pounds with the battery attached, this printer is easy to travel with or store when not needed, and there’s an anti-theft security slot to lock the printer. Most importantly, it produces surprisingly high-quality prints in the office or on the road.
Our best all-around inkjet pick is the Brother MFC-J6945DW INKvestment Tank (view on Amazon), especially if your business requires extensive color or photo printing. This fast, jack-of-all-trades tank model holds a lot of paper, its ADF can scan both sides of a page in a single pass, and its ink tanks hold around a year’s worth of ink. Perhaps our favorite feature is the printer’s ink indicator: Instead of giving you a vague idea of how much ink is left, it tells you how many pages you should be able to print before the tanks need to be refilled.
Are inkjet printers better for my business?
Conventional wisdom holds that inkjet printers are “home” printers, while laser models are “business” printers. But tank-based inkjet printers, with their lower maintenance needs and trends toward in-house-produced color marketing materials, have shifted that equation.
“Ink tends to be better for lower-quantity printing, especially if some portion of the printing is going to be color printing,” says Stephen Baker, vice president of data analytics firm The NPD Group.
What’s the true cost of an inkjet printer?
In addition to your printer, you will need to pay for ongoing costs, which could be especially expensive for inkjet printers. In heavy-use situations, inkjet cartridges seem to need constant replacement. Tank-based inkjet models don’t need ink replenishment for months at a time, but their price-per-page costs can still be three to five times that of the output of a laser printer.
What are the most important features to look for?
Speed claims, reliability, quality, and costs are all top features and specifications to consider. But Wi-Fi, printing and scanning to the cloud, as well as mobile print and scan support, have all become increasingly important for modern businesses, too. Cloud connections, however, can be targeted by hackers, making security an increasingly critical feature. Printer security should include ensuring that users are authorized to access equipment and making sure that wireless connections are protected with strong passwords.
“Businesses should be thinking about print security as part of their overall IT security,” advises Keith Kmetz, program vice president of imaging, printing and document solutions programs at market research firm IDC.
Why Trust Investopedia?
Stewart Wolpin has been writing about consumer electronics for nearly 40 years. Over that time, he has tested and written about a steady stream of printers from all major vendors, including many in this roundup.
In addition to hands-on experience with numerous printer models, we consulted with all the major printer vendors on their most popular and newest models and features, various printer retailers on what functions and features customers looked for, and printer reviews from a variety of online retailers.
Our top consideration for the models that we chose was value: how many useful features, functions, specifications, and operating costs are included versus the printer’s retail price. Included in our value calculations were paper capacity and expandability, print speed for one- and two-sided output, cost of supplies, maintenance and upkeep needs, frequency, and more.