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Small business owners have long shopped the consumer hardware market for wireless printers, thanks in part to their smaller footprint and price compared to their enterprise counterparts. Busy home offices benefit from these printers because they make it easier for people with multiple devices to use the same printer at the same time. Wireless printing means there’s no need for messy cables or using the printer in shifts. Everyone has printing access all the time regardless of where they are.
The ability to print from and scan to various household devices is another benefit of these machines. The best wireless printers enable users to print directly from tablets, phones, or laptops and many of them have the added bonus of allowing users to scan documents or images directly to various software programs. Wireless capabilities like these streamline the printing, copying, faxing, and scanning processes by cutting out the need to connect physically.
Remote workers and small business owners can easily share a single wireless printer if you make an informed choice when you shop. Here are the best wireless printers, considering their real-world performance and technical specs as well as the long-term operating costs and durability.
Best Overall: Brother MFC-J995DW
Perfect for those who want all-in-one wireless printing functionality, the Brother MFC-J995DW XL provides reasonable operating costs in a compact footprint (17.1 x 13.4 inches). It comes with two years of ink in the box, assuming a print rate of 300 pages a month, and the average print cost is 1 cent per monochrome print and 5 cents per color print.
The machine’s hybrid tank and cartridge design offer the cost-saving utility of a tank printer with the convenience of replaceable cartridges; users don’t have to refill the printer using bottles, only standard cartridges. According to IndustryARC manager Akshay Reddy, “The environmental issues with ink cartridges will be a major driver of refillable tank printer adoption as consumers increasingly look into environmental impacts of their purchases. The rising demand has led manufacturers [...] to focus on the enhancement of their refillable tank printer technology with a focus on the shifting trends.”
Even more, this printer comes with top-of-the-line wireless capabilities. You can connect seamlessly via Wi-Fi using AirPrint if you have a Mac or Brother’s driver if you have a PC. For Windows users who require business-class management, access to either BRAdmin Light or BRAdmin Professional (Brother’s remote management software) are also available.
Best All-in-One: HP Color LaserJet Pro M479FDW
Printing, scanning, copying, and faxing are all part of the package with the HP Color LaserJet Pro M479FDW. It offers everything you’d expect from an all-in-one printer including a claimed print speed of up to 28 pages per minute (ppm) in both monochrome and color. The scan and copy speeds are quick too, at 26 and 19 ppm respectively. This laser printer also features a dual paper tray design for a 250-sheet capacity, as well as a 50-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF). The suggested output rate of between 750 and 4,000 pages a month is a bit lower than some all-in-ones out there, but the print speed, long-term operating costs, and overall functionality more than make up for it.
In terms of wireless features, both Windows and Mac devices are supported and a home network can be set up easily. HP also offers several software add-ons for managing your printer’s usage and security, including a package called Print Administrator Resource Kit for HP Universal Print Driver, which offers pro-grade remote management tools.
The cost of operation is reasonable, too. The refill cartridges are super high-capacity for a home printer—HP claims 6,000 color pages and 7,500 black prints are produced per cartridge set. Assuming you use all the ink at the same rate, each print costs 6 cents, though if you only use black and white you can get your costs down to 2 cents a print. You can also take advantage of HP Rewards to further offset costs.
Best Black and White: Brother MFC-L2750DWXL
If you’re in the market for an affordable wireless black and white printer, look no further than the Brother MFCL2750DWXL for handling all of your work needs. This laser printer comes with two years of toner, assuming a print rate of about 300 pages per month, and it offers best-in-class claimed print speeds of up to 36 ppm. Additionally, this model has a claimed print output of about 3,000 pages, which works out to 2 cents a print. Brother’s toner recycling program is also a nice bonus: it allows users to safely recycle their old cartridges using pre-printed shipping labels from Brother.
This printer doesn’t skimp on all-in-one features, either: it includes a separate 50-page ADF tray, automatic duplex printing and scanning, multi-page copying, and the ability to print from and scan to the Microsoft Office Suite, Google Drive, Dropbox, and other cloud services and Wi-Fi enabled devices.
Best High-End Photo Printer: Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000
Creative professionals who currently rely on commercial photo printing services may want to consider investing in the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000. Its excellent print quality is thanks to features like the minimum 4 picoliters (pl) ink droplet size and the resulting maximum image resolution of 2,400 x 1,200 dots per inch (dpi). The print quality combined with the desktop design makes this photo printer one of the best options for art-grade printing. It completes a 17 x 22-inch print in 4 minutes and 10 seconds, and it prints a 13 x 19-inch bordered photo in 2 minutes and 30 seconds. The vacuum feeding system also helps safely feed paper through the printer, and the LCD panel allows for last-minute adjustments via the handy color calibration tool.
The wireless capabilities of this printer were also designed with creative professionals in mind. Like many other photo printers, it is AirPrint enabled, but this Canon also works with Wireless PictBridge, PIXMA Cloud Link, Pro Gallery Print, and of course, the Canon Print app. The only potential downsides are the price and the fact that you cannot use roll paper in this machine.
Best Budget Photo Printer: Canon iP8720
A fantastic value, the Canon PIXMA iP8720 delivers full-colored prints on a variety of surfaces, including super high-gloss paper, glossy paper, semi-gloss paper, matte paper, #10 envelopes, and even CDs and DVDs. Plus, you can use it for printing regular documents and wide-format prints (up to 13 x 19 inches).
The print quality is excellent as well, with Canon citing a maximum resolution of 600 x 600 dpi for black and white and 9,600 x 2,400 dpi for color. The printer also features a six cartridge design (cyan, magenta, yellow, black, photo black, and grey), which makes for vibrant color prints as well as nuanced black and whites.
Keep in mind that this printer only has one paper tray, so if you use it for different types of prints, you’ll need to switch out your paper each time. It also lacks a screen, so all of your printing must be made through the Canon PRINT app using supported cloud services like AirPrint, Google Cloud Print, and Pictbridge.
Best Wide-Format: Epson EcoTank Pro ET-16650
The Epson EcoTank Pro ET-16650 can print, scan, copy, and fax documents up to 11 x 17 inches. Its scanner isn’t just large, but it’s also really high quality with an optical scan resolution of 1,200 dpi. The claimed print speed isn’t groundbreaking, but it’s respectable at 25 ppm for both color and monochrome prints. Wireless printing can be conducted via Apple AirPrint, Mopria, or the Epson iPrint app, but unfortunately, Google Drive, Dropbox, and other services are not supported by this all-in-one.
Though it comes with a hefty price tag, it’s not out of line with other printers that offer similar functionality, and the operating costs are reasonable thanks to the environmentally-friendly tank design. The cartridge-free ink system (with four colors) utilizes internal tanks and bottles of ink rather than cartridges, which means you’ll go a lot longer between refills and you’ll pay less. This printer comes with enough ink in the box for about 6,000 color prints and 7,500 black and white prints.
Best for Portability: HP OfficeJet 250
The HP OfficeJet 250 is a great option for remote workers with limited office space because you can easily tuck it away when not in use. It’s also great for people who work in areas without access to a reliable power source because it can run entirely off of a rechargeable battery pack (included). You can connect to the printer via USB (there are two USB ports) or via Wi-Fi using AirPrint for Mac or HP ePrint if you have a PC or Android device.
Weighing at just 6.5 pounds, this printer packs a surprising amount of functionality into its 15 x 7.8 x 3.6-inch package. When in full use, the maximum dimensions of 15 x 15.8 x 10.6 inches are still very modest compared to other similar printers. While it’s not a traditional all-in-one, the printer does offer mobile printing, scanning, copying, and a 50-page ADF. The scan quality is fine for basic text documents, and the claimed print speed is acceptable at a rate of 10 ppm for monochrome prints and 7 ppm for color. Still, it’s important to remember that this printer’s main selling point is its portability.
Best Budget: Brother MFC-J491DW
If you’re on a tight budget, take a look at the Brother MFC-J491DW. When it comes to long-term costs, the cartridge refills are all you need to worry about. Each high-yield cartridge also has a claimed print rate of about 400 pages.
You can connect to this all-in-one wirelessly (using AirPrint, Google Cloud Print, Mopria, or Brother iPrint & Scan) or via USB for convenient printing, copying, scanning, and faxing capabilities. You can also scan directly from this printer to Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive. Most printers at this price point cannot print from or scan to many different services, yet this affordable option does that and more. Other features of this printer include automatic duplex printing, automatic document feeding, a 100-page paper tray, and a recommended maximum load of 1,000 prints per month.
Most small businesses and home offices will be well served by the Brother MFC-J995DW (view on Amazon). The hybrid tank and cartridge design deliver environmentally-friendly utility and cost savings over time, and the printer’s speed and multi-functionality make it ideal for serving multiple remote workers, students, and family members.
How can I calculate the total cost of owning and operating a printer?
First, you’ll need to figure out the approximate cost per page for a black and white print and color print. Calculating this cost is easy for black and white prints and harder for color and color photographs or art prints. It’s up to you whether you include the cost of paper in these calculations.
Then, you’ll need to multiply those print costs by the number of each type of print you create in a year. The resulting number is your annual print cost, excluding the cost of the printer. After that, you’ll need to do some guesswork regarding how long you expect your printer to last. If you assume a lifespan of five years, and the printer costs $500, you should add $100 to your annual printing costs. Basic division gets this done, but keep in mind this is all approximate. It’s impossible to predict how long a printer will last, or exactly how many prints you’ll make, but this method should give you a good idea for budgeting purposes.
Jack Daly, industry research analyst at IBISWorld, offers some money-saving advice: “Many brick-and-mortar retailers that sell printers, such as Staples, have implemented price matching policies. This allows consumers to leverage the cheaper prices available online while still being able to pick up their printer at the store.”
Do I have to buy ink and toner that matches the brand of my printer?
If you search online, you’ll find third-party ink and toner that promises to fit various models of printers—such toner is usually priced lower than branded printer toner. We recommend buying ink and toner that is made by the same manufacturer as your printer (or recommended by the manufacturer) for a few reasons, the first being quality assurance.
Third-party cartridges are all over the map when it comes to quality and output. There is often no recourse for poor quality cartridges from third-party companies, so the smaller price tag comes with a higher risk. Additionally, some printer companies, like HP, are purposefully making their printers incompatible with third-party toners. So, you’re better off choosing a printer that you can afford to run with its recommended ink.
What is an all-in-one printer?
An all-in-one printer features the ability to print, scan, copy, and fax. There are printers that are labeled “all-in-one” that can’t complete all four of these tasks. Keep in mind that faxing is the most commonly excluded feature in printers advertised as “all-in-one.” The trend of marketing printers as “all-in-one,” despite the inability to fax, is likely to continue as faxing is increasingly abandoned in favor of secure scanning.
Why Trust Investopedia?
Mona Bushnell began her career as an IT technician, during which one of her primary tasks was servicing a wide variety of printers and scanners, including commercial photo printers. She has also worked extensively as a tech writer, testing both hardware and software, and making recommendations with consumer and B2B markets in mind.
She selected these picks by assessing the top manufacturers’ best-selling printers for the home office market and comparing their features and operating costs. From there, she identified several common use cases for small businesses and offices. Next, extensive research was combined with domain knowledge and reputable industry opinion to produce a curated list of printers that offer great value for money.