What makes a desktop office printer a smart purchase? Is it the cheapest ink cartridges? What about handling print jobs simultaneously? Or printing what look like archival quality photos? Depending on why you need a printer and how you’ll use it, there could be more than one right answer.
That may be so, but some printers are rated above others. If you’d like to select a printer based on what professional hardware testers think, here are five desktop office printers that the tech-savvy writers at PC Magazine rate among the best for 2017. [Note: Prices current as of May 2017.]
1- Brother HL-L5200DW
This high-speed laser printer from Brother prints in monochrome on legal size paper. It has automatic print duplexing, but direct printing from cameras and an LCD screen preview are convenient features you won’t find.
Still, what you get is nice for the price. It’s a low-maintenance printer that features Direct, Ethernet, and USB connectivity. It also delivers great text quality. If there’s a glaring downside, it’s that printing high-quality graphics — such as the kind you might want for a company logo — isn’t a strong point.
Dimensions: 10” (h) x 14.7 (w) x 15.3 (d)
2- Brother MFC-J985DW
This ink jet model from Brother is an all-in-one printer that prints in 1-pass color on letter size paper. It prints in four colors and has automatic print duplexing, but there’s no direct printing from cameras or an LCD preview screen.
Additional benefits include high-capacity ink cartridges and above average photo printing. Plus, you can print from USB drives and memory cards and scan to them. For some users, two drawbacks will be low paper capacity and slightly below average clarity for text and graphics.
Dimensions: 6.8” (h) x 16.5 (w) 13.4 (d)
3- Canon Pixma TS8020 Wireless Inkjet
This lightweight inkjet all-in-one model prints in 1-pass color on letter size paper. Six ink colors offer good variety, and you can print directly from cameras via cable or wireless. As expected, you get automatic print duplexing, as well as an LCD preview screen.
Additional strong points include an excellent photo and text quality — even at high print speeds — and an SD card slot. On the downside, there’s no Ethernet or fax capability, and you don’t have an automatic document feeder. But the printer excels at high-speed photo printing. If it’s a capability you need often, this is a great printer.
Dimensions: 5.5 (h) x 14.7 (w) x 12.8 inches (d)
4- Canon imageClass LBP151dw
A laser printer that prints in monochrome on legal size paper, this model uses a one ink color. Print Duplexing is automatic, but you miss out on direct printing from cameras and accessing an LCD preview screen.
Users of this compact Canon model prize it for text quality and connectivity with USB, Ethernet, of Wi-Fi. But the graphics aren’t quite as good as the text, and the Wi-Fi doesn’t have direct connectivity. Overall, this one packs nice performance into a small package that’s great for confined workspaces.
Dimensions: 9.4 (h) x 15.7 (w) x 13.2 (d)
5- Canon Pixma MG5720 Wireless Inkjet
This ink jet model from Canon is an all-in-one that prints in 1-pass color on legal size paper. Five ink colors is a nice selection for basic print jobs, but there’s no direct printing from cameras. Print Duplexing is automatic, but you won’t find an LCD preview screen.
The Pixma MG5720 is Canon’s equivalent technology for Wi-Fi Direct, facilitating fast photo printing and dispensing remarkably high-quality print jobs. Notable omissions are a document feeder and Ethernet connectivity. As multifunction printers go, this one of the best desktop versions for workstations that create plenty of printed text and/or photos.
Dimensions: 5.9 (h) x 18 (w) x 14.6 (d)
Need a Great Printer?
So, there you have it. With this round-up of the top 5 desktop printers this year, it’s clear that the what goes into the best printers seems to focus on intuitive, forward-thinking features without sacrificing superior rendering capabilities. Whether you’re investing in a printer for your home or office, consider these industry-leading options.