10 Best Color Printers in 2021
We have all heard the predictions the office of the future would be paperless, with every image and document stored digitally and never leaving the screen. Decades later, we’re still living in a paper world, both in the office and at home.
For a wide variety of reasons, we still depend upon hard copy. Invariably your customers will have to go out and choose a printer, and color has become more popular. The pandemic has pushed many of them to do it sooner, given they found themselves working from home. For many, it may stay that way permanently
Shopping for a color printer may seem like an easy task. However, once you investigate all the available features, making a choice can become quite daunting.
I surveyed several ‘best printer’ writers: Stewart Wolpin from cnet.com, Tony Hoffman from PCmag.com, Brian Westover from tomsguide.com and Dave Johnson from Forbes Personal Shopper. There was not a single, color printer they could agree upon in each of the ten categories.
It reflects the truth that choosing the right printer is a very individual, subjective activity. Almost every printer can handle mobile and wireless printing from a phone or personal computer. So, what makes them different? It has everything to do with what you want to print: color photos, labels, or pages. Some are better suited to the small office or home. Others are powerful and fast workhorses. Do you have to advise your customers which is the best printer for them?
With the experts unable to agree, I was left to do my own research on color printers. Here is my top 10 list:
Best Color Laser Printer: Brother HL-L3270CDW Color Laser
When compared with inkjet printers, color laser printers are quieter, faster and work better for text documents. The Brother HL-L3270CDW can print 25 pages per minute and supports full-duplex printing. The manual feed slot handles a variety of paper types and sizes, including card stock and envelopes. You get Ethernet, USB and Wi-Fi connectivity, and NFC lets you “touch to connect” so you can print from compatible mobile devices without even connecting to the network.
Best Color Laser AIO for Businesses: Lexmark MC2535adwe
This fast, color laser all-in-one printer offers is relatively small and light, yet it is designed to meet the challenge of a high monthly duty cycle for medium-to-high-volume use in small-to-midsize offices and workgroups.
End-users will be amazed at the excellent print quality and will value the security features.
Best Color Document Printer: Canon Color imageClass LBP622Cdw
This color laser printer has no scanning or copying capabilities but prints vivid text and color graphics with high levels of contrast and range, on both white and colored printer paper. It is ideal for those needing to produce reams of market research reports, business proposals or brochures. This laser printer can deliver near-professional quality that’s noticeably superior to what you’ll get from an inkjet. It’s not expensive to run, thanks to its high-capacity toner cartridge. On average, black and white documents cost about 3 cents a page and color docs cost 3.8 cents a page.
Best Home-Office Workhorse: HP OfficeJet Pro 9015e All-in-One Printer
This compact, color, all-in-one printer is designed for light-to-medium-duty use in small workgroups and small offices. It can print at 22 pages per minute (ppm) and offers borderless printing and comes bundled with enough ink to keep you going for six months. The 9015e comes with a 35-sheet auto-duplexing automatic document feeder (ADF) for copying, scanning, and faxing two-sided multipage originals without user intervention.
Best Value for Families: HP Envy Pro 6452 All-in-One
This high-tech, modern-looking, entry-level multifunction inkjet printer is good for 200 to 300 pages a month which makes it popular for home offices, family rooms, and dorms. By subscribing to HP’s Instant Ink service, users can enjoy a much lower operating cost when compared with competitor devices. It has good print quality and comes with an automatic document feeder (ADF). Being priced at just over US$100 may be attractive for this market but predictably, it’s slow.
Best Photo Printer: Canon Pixma iP8720
If you’re looking for the best photo printer, then you’ll be choosing between two companies: Canon and Epson. Both have truly cornered the market for photographers looking to create top-quality enlargements. This printer doesn’t scan or copy, however it is faster than the competition with six ink cartridges and prints up to A3 (13 x 19 inch) sized photos. There are no physical controls or LCD screen, so you control it via the printer dialog box on your device. Instead of a traditional paper tray, users simply stack their media of choice into a rear document feeder.
Best for Portable Document Printing: Canon Pixma TR150 Wireless Portable Printer
This portable, light, single-function device is perfect for printing graphics, photos and color documents on the road. When compared with other similar printers, it is smaller, relatively fast with competitive running costs. The battery will cost an additional $100 and takes two to three hours to charge. A unique feature is its ability to create and save up to five form templates and flyers you can access and print out from the printer’s control panel.
Best Printer with Cheapest Ink: Epson EcoTank ET-3760
Refillable ink tanks are the most interesting development in printer technology of the last decade. The EcoTank ET-3760 is the latest generation in Epson’s cartridge-free range. Offering significant cost savings. This printer costs about four cents for a full color page compared with 20 cents for a typical inkjet printer. The ink tanks are now built directly into the front of the printer, making it easier to refill and see how much ink you have left. The ink that comes in the box should last about 2 years (or 7,500 pages). Features include wireless, voice-activated and direct printing from a smartphone, copying, scanning, automatic two-sided printing.
Best for Cost-Conscious Businesses: Epson EcoTank Pro ET-5850
This all-in-one inkjet printer is designed to churn out 3,000 to 4,000 pages per month for busy small and midsize offices and workgroups. Its high print quality, low running costs, and a strong lineup of productivity and convenience features make it a favorite out of the midrange color devices.
In some cases, it comes bundled with two years’ free ink. It has auto-duplexing (ADF) and excellent mobile connectivity options.
Best Large Format Printer: Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000
Wide-format color printers tend to be expensive but are indispensable if you need to print oversized documents or enjoy printing and hanging your photos around the house or office. The Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000 can print borderless pages up to A3 size (328mm x 483mm or 13 x 19 inches)—at 5760 x 1440 pixels.
This device has 6 individual color cartridges and includes a 50-sheet tray for specialty media like card stock and a 200-sheet tray for automatic two-sided printing.
** This article, “10 Best Color Printers in 2021,” is published in RT ImagingWorld magazine on pages 12 to 15. Click to download the full issue for free.
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