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The Best Printers in a Digital World

As the world goes digital, paper persists. Pixels may be able to hold the same information, but they can’t be affixed to cardboard boxes, and no matter what anyone says about the future of books, the printed word lives on.

So there’s still good reason to have a printer at home, and the best one depends on what you needs. An inkjet is best for photos, but if you’re printing long text documents, laser is better. Here’s a look at the top printers for all your paper needs.

Best on a Budget (Inkjet): Office Jet 4650


You have a choice to make: inkjet or laser? If it’s color you need, choose the HP OfficeJet 4650, a multi-function work horse with wireless connectivity. It can produce two-sided prints—something most cheaper printers can’t handle. If the speed gets you down—it prints about 9 black-and-white pages per minute—you can spend slightly more for the HP OfficeJet Pro 8710, which prints at more than twice the speed.

Best on a Budget (Laser): HL-L2340DW


If you’re regularly printing lots of text documents, an inkjet will feel painfully slow, no matter the speed. For that, you need a laser printer, like the Brother HL-L2370DW. Laser printers are cheap, and upkeep (read: toner) is cheap, too. It’s rated to print at 33 one-sided pages per minute and can automatically print double-sided, too (albeit a bit more slowly). The downside is it’s black and white only, though if you’re just wrestling with Word documents, that shouldn’t be a problem.

Best Overall: Color LaserJet Pro M477fdw


Hewlett-Packard introduced the world to laser printers in 1984. Ever since, they’ve been gaining speed and memory. If money’s no concern, our favorite is the HP LaserJet Pro M477fdw, which has an automatic document feeder for non-standard-sized paper and faxing, automatic double-sided printing, and versatile connectivity (Wi-Fi, Ethernet, or USB). Plus, it prints in color.

Best Photo Printer: SureColor P800 17


The Epson SureColor P800 can print beautiful photos up to 17 inches wide and also comes with a roll-paper adapter. It has a whopping nine inks—five colors and four blacks—for accurate color reproduction. Those inks will cost you, though, so don’t get this printer if you’re looking to spend a bunch once and be done with it. If you’re looking to spend less overall, for half the price, you can get the SureColor P600, which also has nine inks but tops out at 13-inch-wide paper. Both printers can connect via USB, Ethernet, or wifi.

Best Printing Service: Nations Photo Lab


Maybe you don’t want a printer at all—maybe you just want what a printer produces. The highest quality prints come from somewhere you’ve probably never heard of: Nations Photo Lab. The photos have accurate colors, strong details and contrast, and they arrive quickly, in protective packaging—features that make slightly higher prices (28 cents for a 4×6 print) well worth it.