Home Printer Buyers Guide

Home Printer Buyers Guide

Selecting A Home Network Printer

No matter who you are or what you do there’s a printer out there designed for you. There are home printers, business printers, photo printers, printers for students, etc. The focus of this buying guide will be on home printers.

home printers

Most people associate home printing with inkjet printers. I refuse to recommend inkjet printers for any reason. Yes, they print pretty colors, and yes, they are usually cheap, but if you don’t use them on a regular basis the ink dries up and the nozzles clog. If you do use them on a regular basis it won’t be long before they start smearing and smudging.

Many times all four replacement ink cartridges cost as much or more than the printer itself. In an effort to save money in the short term you can end up costing yourself money and frustration in the long term.

That being said the type of home printers I recommend for home use are affordable, light-duty laser printers designed for home office or small business use. Laser printers are quieter, faster, and print much better quality documents than inkjet printers.

Even after months of neglect, they’ll be there for you at a moment’s notice ready to print whatever you need with no muss and no fuss. I won’t be covering photo printers in this guide either. I consider them expensive, specialty printers that don’t fall into the small home office category.

How Laser Printers Work

Laser printers use static electricity to force a very fine powder called toner to stick to a page in a specific pattern determined by negative and positive charges. That toner is then permanently fused to the paper using heat from a fuser. The positive and negative charges are applied by a laser that is very fast and quiet. The whole process to print a single page takes seconds. It’s an amazing technology that’s becoming more commonplace and affordable as time goes on.

home printing
color printer

Home Printer Connectivity

Inkjet printers use USB or WiFi connections almost exclusively. You’ll very rarely find an Ethernet inkjet printer. Ethernet is usually reserved for laser printers. WiFi Direct is another option that allows a direct WiFi connection to a printer via its own internal WiFi signal. This allows anyone with a mobile phone and the password to the printer’s WiFi to print directly to it without connecting to the local WiFi network.

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HP LaserJet Pro M118dw Printer Review

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HP Laserjet Pro M148dw Printer Review

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Multi-Functions

Sometimes you just want to print. Other times you want to print, scan, copy, and fax. Whenever you see MFP in the name of the printer that designates it as a Multi-Function Printer. That means at the very least the printer will usually have a glass plate on top you can use for copying and scanning. Even if it’s a black and white printer you’ll be able to scan and make copies in color.

Duplexing

Duplex printing is another feature that’s becoming more and more common in affordable laser home printers. Duplex printing saves you the trouble of reloading paper, flipping it over, and reprinting to get printing on both sides. Duplex printers have a “duplexer” mechanism inside that flips the paper over for you and feeds it back through to print on the other side. This saves time and paper.

Media

Another feature that’s becoming more commonplace is card readers or media slots. These allow you to print directly from memory sticks, portable hard drives, or memory cards from your camera or phone.

printer supplies

Printing Costs

You get what you pay for and if you want something you have to pay for it. There’s no getting around it. A major factor in deciding on a printer is printing costs. More expensive, high-volume printers will have a lower price per page cost in terms of paper and toner. Less expensive, low to medium volume printers will have a higher per-page cost.

Per page, costs can range anywhere from 1 cent per page to 5 cents per page. It’s unavoidable. They get you coming or they get you going. The main decision is to decide if you want to pay for most of that cost upfront or spread it out over time. The best approach is to look at the average toner costs per 1000 pages and decide how much you’ll be printing to arrive at an estimated annual print cost you can live with.

Investment

It may be tempting to run to the local electronics store, grab the cheapest off-brand printer you can find, and take it home. That strategy may work for you short term but it’s wiser to consider a printer a long-term investment and get something that will last several years instead of several months. Sticking to trusted brands like Brother, Canon, Epson, and HP with strong warranties and technical support is a safer bet.

Printing Speed

A printer’s speed is measured in ppm or pages per minute. Printers in the price range I focus on in this guide are usually 16ppm to 36ppm. Faster speeds than that are usually for higher-end, more expensive high-volume printers.

These are usually very handy features to have. The cost of a multi-function printer is usually not that much more than a regular laser printer. Some multi-function printers will have an analog phone port built-in to be used for faxing.

color printing

Color Printing

We can go two different ways with this. Four colors or three colors. The four colors are Magenta, Cyan, Yellow, and Black. If you have a four-color printer and print mostly in black and white you should be able to get away with replacing the black toner cartridge most often. A color printer with three colors uses all three colors to create black. That means you may find yourself having to replace all three toner cartridges just to continue printing in black and white.

As you can imagine color laser printing can get expensive. You shouldn’t expect photo-quality prints unless you’re prepared to spend a lot of money on a special photo-quality printer. This type of printer is usually used by photographers and graphic design studios. A color laser printer for a home office is best for mostly text documents with colorful charts and graphs.

Top 5 Home Printers

1. HP LaserJet Pro M118DW

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HP Laserjet Pro M118dw Wireless Monochrome Laser Printer, Auto Two-Sided Printing, Mobile...

Last update was on: January 2, 2023 10:57 pm

On many low-cost printers, the feature you cannot find anywhere else is an auto duplexer. This means it pulls each sheet of paper back into the printer and flips it over before sending it to the output tray by default. This saves time, hassle, and money in paper costs. The two-sided single tray supports letter and legal-sized paper.

The HP LaserJet Pro M118dw is a cost-effective printer that doesn’t consume much power but can produce high-quality prints. It’s particularly cost-effective if you need to print just a few pages per month. The automatic double-sided printing function makes the HP LaserJet Pro M118dw a printer worth considering.

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2. Brother HL-L2370DW

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Brother Compact Monochrome Laser Printer, HL-L2370DWXL Extended Print, Up to 2 Years...

Last update was on: January 2, 2023 10:57 pm
$235.52 $259.99

This Brother printer has the full set of network connectivity needed for your needs. You can connect to your PC or laptop via USB, from a mobile phone through Wi-Fi Direct, and there’s also Wi-Fi . It is surprising to find an Ethernet connectivity at such a low cost for a laser printer.

Sometimes you just want to print. The Brother HL-L2370 lets you do that easily and quickly, reliably, and inexpensively. It’s simple to impress you with an abundance of tricks. It’s just there for you   when you want to PRINT. Ethernet connectivity and auto-duplexing are significant features for a printer of this caliber at this price point.

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3. HP LaserJet Pro M15W

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HP LaserJet Pro M15w Wireless Monochrome Printer, works with Alexa (W2G51A)

Last update was on: January 2, 2023 10:57 pm

You won’t find fancy things like duplex printing and flatbed scanning, but you will indeed find fast (19 ppm) printing and inexpensive, sharp laser printing. The display isn’t touchscreen, but the app’s intuitive interface fills in the gap for a good experience.

As for laser printers when it comes to performance and quality, they easily outdo inkjet printers. Inkjet printers are sometimes bulkier and noisier outdoing their laser printer counterparts. Smudges, smears, clogging nozzles, and constantly replacing dried-up ink are the downsides to inkjet printing. The HP LaserJect Pro M15W gives you laserjet printer quality at an inkjet printer price.

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HP LaserJet Pro M15w Printer Review
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HP LaserJect Pro M15W Full Review

4 HP LaserJet Pro M148DW

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HP Laserjet Pro M148dw All-in-One Wireless Monochrome Laser Printer, Mobile & Auto...

Last update was on: January 2, 2023 10:57 pm

The HP Laserjet Pro M148dw has various WiFi Direct features, enabling you to print directly from your tablet or smartphone using the printer. The automated duplex printing feature gives you the opportunity to print on both sides of the page automatically.

The HP M148 is a very good printer for low-volume printing. Some rivals consider it an inexpensive photo printer too. Don’t get confused for it like a color printer though. It’s an inexpensive, versatile multi-function solution that is ideal for home.

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HP LaserJet Pro M148DW Full Review

5 HP Color LaserJet Pro M255DW

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HP Color LaserJet Pro M255dw Wireless Laser Printer, Remote Mobile Print, Duplex...

& Free shipping
Last update was on: January 2, 2023 10:57 pm

The HP Color LaserJet Pro M255dw supports wireless printing at speeds up to 22 pages per minute, automatic two-sided printing (auto-duplexing), and the control can be handled via the 2.7-inch color touchscreen or mobile apps. Using the HP Smart app permits individuals to set up a printer from a mobile device, manage print job settings, and also get alerts.

This printer’s light-to-easy configuration makes it appropriate for use in a little home-office setting, producing up to 3,000 sharp text pages and up to 2,500 pages of high-quality charts and graphs every month. It works perfectly without sacrificing ability or consistency with the higher models, making them a pain if mismanaged.

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HP Color LaserJet Pro M255dw Printer Review
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HP Color LaserJet Pro M255dw Design The M255dws design is rather mundane except for the slightly out-of-place-looking control panel propped up on one corner. It does fold down so any concerns …

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Buzzwords You Should Know

Toner Cartridge

Most people are familiar with toner cartridges. They’re long plastic cases full of toner that the laser printer uses to print an image on the page. Most printers will have indicators to tell you when your toner is low. If you get an indication your toner is low taking it out and giving a quick sideways shake or two will spread it out more evenly and give you a few more print jobs while your waiting for more toner.

Fuser

The fuser is a box in the back of most printers that applies heat to the paper one has toner stuck to it and fuses them together permanently. Maintenance kits for printers usually contain a new fuser. When replacing a fuser make sure to unplug the printer first and give the fuser some time to cool down before removing it because it can get very hot.

Drum

The drum is an electrically charged cylinder in the printer that creates the difference in charge between the paper and toner that causes them to stick together (Opposites attract.) Once the toner is stuck on the paper the fuser fuses them together with heat.

In some printers, the drum may be incorporated with the toner cartridge so when you replace the toner cartridge you also replace the drum. In some printers, a drum is a separate unit.

Imaging Unit

The Imaging Unit is the same thing as the Drum. If your drum or imaging unit is separate from the toner cartridge you probably won’t need to replace the drum as often as the toner. You may be able to go through 3-4 toner cartridges before having to replace the drum.   

Whenever replacing a drum or imaging unit it’s important to make sure you DON’T TOUCH the shiny surface of the transfer roller. The oils on your finger can destroy the coating on the roller and ruin the quality of your print jobs. The only fix is to replace the drum.

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Jerry Jones (WiFi Guy) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

“As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.” – Jerry Jones

Affiliate Disclosure

Jerry Jones (WiFi Guy) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

“As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.” – Jerry Jones

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