With more people working remotely than ever, many are looking for ways to carve out a suitable work space in the home. Fitting all the required office equipment into a small space can be a challenge. A compact printer that doesn’t take up a lot of space is a must for a small home office.
Small home office printers are available as inkjet models that can print photos in high quality or laser models that can handle large print jobs. Home office printers are more compact than those you would find at the workplace, with some even small enough to take on the road.
The best small printers for your home office can handle more than just printing duties, with many also capable of copying, scanning, and faxing. While some are wired printers that connect to a computer via a USB cable, many small home office printers connect wirelessly via a home Wi-Fi network, internal Wi-Fi Direct technology, or Bluetooth, allowing them to print not just from a computer but also from a smart device. Some are even truly wireless, operating off of a lithium-ion battery.
This guide will explore what factors to consider when shopping for the best small printer for a home office and review some of the best models on the market.
- BEST OVERALL: HP OfficeJet Pro 8035 All-in-One Wireless Printer
- BEST FOR BUSINESS: Epson Workforce WF-110 Wireless Mobile Printer
- BEST FOR TRAVEL: HP OfficeJet 200 Portable Printer (CZ993A)
- BEST BLACK AND WHITE: Canon Image CLASS LBP6230dw Wireless Laser Printer
- BEST PHOTO: HP ENVY Photo 7155 All in One Photo Printer
- BEST MINI PHOTO: KODAK Step Wireless Mobile Photo Mini Printer
Types of Printers for Home Offices
There are two main types of home office printers: inkjet and laser. Ahead, learn more about the differences between the two and find out what factors are crucial to consider when determining which model is right for your home office.
An inkjet printer sprays small drops of ink onto the paper through a nozzle as the paper moves past the printer head. This method produces vivid images, making these printers ideal for printing high-resolution graphics, photos, and other images. Most inkjet printers use two cartridges to produce ink, including a black ink cartridge and a color cartridge. These inkjet printers typically fulfill multiple needs in the home office, including copying and scanning as well as printing. An inkjet printer is a great option for those who print no more than a few hundred pages a month or who need to print high-quality graphics and photos.
Laser printers use a drum that melts toner powder onto paper by applying heat. These printers are adept at printing text while also producing a high page yield, making them ideal for users who are primarily printing documents as opposed to photos. Since they are able to produce a high volume of pages per minute and use ink more economically, laser printers are ideal for home office settings that print 1,000 pages or more per month or that use a printer primarily for black and white text.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Small Printer
Home office printers use a variety of different methods for connecting to a computer. They also vary in speed, size, and print resolution. Below, learn more about connectivity, portability, output, resolution, and other important factors that are helpful to consider when shopping for a home office printer.
Wired vs. Wireless
Home office printers use wired and wireless technology to connect to computers and smart devices. A wireless printer communicates with a computer in one of three ways. A printer can communicate with a computer by joining the home’s Wi-Fi network. Some printers use Bluetooth technology to connect directly to a device, while others use newer Wi-Fi Direct technology. With Wi-Fi Direct, a computer puts out its own Wi-Fi signal, which computers and smartphones can join. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Direct offer fully portable connectivity, as they don’t require a Wi-Fi network.
While wireless printers have the convenience of not requiring a cord to connect the computer to the printer, they can be slower if there is interference in the wireless connection or if the network is slow. Even if a printer is not wireless, it can be converted with the purchase of a wireless adapter. Some printers are truly wireless, using a rechargeable lithium-ion battery for power rather than plugging into an electrical outlet.
Wired printers connect directly to a computer via a wire. While older printers use special printer cables, most newer printers use a standard USB cable to make this connection. A wired connection offers reliability without the threat of interference of a down network that can interrupt printing. There can be compatibility issues with printers, as many newer laptops no longer have USB ports.
Printing quality is delineated by DPI, which is the number of dots per inch that a printer uses to reproduce text or images onto paper. In short, the higher the DPI, the higher the resolution of the printer. Most printers offer a range of DPI that can be adjusted via the computer that’s sending it information.
The type of ink the printer uses also makes a difference. Most inkjet printers offer a range of 300 to 720 DPI while most laser printers, which use toner for ink, create sharper pictures with DPI in the range of 600 to 2,400 DPI. It’s important to understand that although laser jet printers have higher DPI, inkjet printers excel with full-color photography, whereas laser printers produce the cleanest-looking text.
Other factors can also affect print quality, such as paper. There are printer papers designed specifically for inkjet and laser printer paper, which optimize the printing results. Photo print paper is necessary for getting the best results when printing photographs.
Speed is also a factor when selecting a printer. While speeds vary from model to model, laser printers are generally much faster than inkjet printers. Laser printers can print between 20 and 100 pages per minute depending on the model compared to the fastest inkjet printers, which can produce about 16 pages per minute. The amount of paper a printer can hold also affects speed, as it reduces the number of times the user needs to refill the paper tray. Most inkjet printers can hold about 50 pages, while laser printers can hold several hundred pages.
Unless you plan on using a printer intermittently, it’s important to consider its duty cycle. In short, the duty cycle is the total number of pages a printer can print each month without causing the printer to malfunction. For most laser printers, the duty cycle is fairly high at around 5,000 pages per month for even the most affordable models. Inkjet printers, in comparison, are significantly lower, with a duty cycle of under 1,000 pages.
Maintenance costs for printers largely come down to the expense of replacing ink or toner. While laser printers are more expensive upfront, they are significantly cheaper per page printed based on the cost of replacement ink, making them more economical in the long run.
Laser printers also produce far more pages before needing more ink. While an ink cartridge might print between 135 to 1,000 pages on a single cartridge, a laser printer can print up to 7,000 pages or more.
Laser replacement toner cartridges are expensive, costing upward of $200, while a replacement ink cartridge for an inkjet printer may only cost around $25. However, an ink cartridge may only yield around 400 pages, while a toner cartridge will yield nearly 7,000 pages. That translates into a per-page cost for inkjet printers that is more than twice that of a laser printer.
In addition to connecting via Bluetooth or a Wi-Fi network, some printers are also able to interface with smart home systems. This expands their functionality, allowing the user to control them with voice commands when paired with a virtual assistant. While wired and wireless printers require either a wireless or USB device to connect to a computer, many include SD card ports. These ports allow the user to insert a camera SD card with photographs and print pictures directly from the card without the need for a computer.
Portable printers enable the user to print virtually anywhere thanks to full wireless technology. These powerful printers run off of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries and connect to computers and smart devices via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi Direct connectivity, making them truly wireless printers. They’re also significantly smaller than other printers. Most portable printers fold down into compact shapes that are 15 inches long, about 7 inches wide, and just a few inches high, and they weigh less than 5 pounds, making them small enough to fit inside a computer bag.
Some printers include additional features that make them easier to use, including document feeders that facilitate scanning. Some have large LED displays for easy touch screen control and even photo editing. Wireless printers can connect to smartphones via an app, allowing the user to control the printer via a smart device. Some printers will monitor ink levels and automatically order ink when low.
Our Top Picks
The list below takes into account the above factors to narrow the field to some of the best small printers by class. Any of these models will capably handle the printing duties in a small home office.
With its multifunctional ability, impressive paper yield, and cutting-edge smart features, this all-in-one printer from one of the giants in business brands is well suited for the home office. This model functions as a printer, scanner, copier, and fax machine in one unit, making it ideal for tight office spaces. Controls on this printer are cutting edge, with a smartphone app that communicates with the printer and reports on ink levels while letting the user perform scanning and printing tasks. The OfficeJet Pro 8035 also prints faster than most inkjet printers, with an output of 20 pages per minute.
The app also allows the user to print photos from the phone directly to the printer, eliminating the need to transfer the photos to a computer first. Likewise, it will also send scanned images directly to the app.
With its small size, ability to travel, and formidable output, this wireless printer is an excellent option for small-business owners. Near the top of the list of features for this printer are its rechargeable battery and Wi-Fi Direct technology, which allows it to print from virtually any location from tablets, smartphones, desktops, and laptops.
At just 12 inches long, 9 inches wide, 8.5 inches high, and weighing less than 5 pounds, this printer is ideal for smaller home office spaces or for those who work on the road. While it doesn’t have the page output of larger printers, at its maximum print speed it can still pump out a respectable seven pages per minute for black ink and four sheets per minute for full color. Other features include automatic power off for saving the battery and voice-activated printing when paired with a virtual assistant.
This printer has the ability to fold to a compact shape of just 14 inches wide, 7 inches deep, and 3 inches high, and it weighs just under 5 pounds, making it small and light enough to fit into a laptop bag for transport. And with a collapsible design that protects its display and printer tray, it’s durable enough for travel. A rechargeable battery and Wi-Fi Direct connectivity make this model a truly wireless printer.
This printer works with HP’s wireless app to print from a smart device. A 2-inch LCD display allows for easy controls from the printer. Despite its small size, this printer has an excellent page yield at 10 pages per minute for black ink and seven pages per minute for color.
When it comes to printing black and white, nothing beats a laser printer. They produce a better resolution for text, can pump out pages at a staggering rate, and are more efficient with ink. This model is no exception. It can print 26 pages a minute with the first page completed about six seconds after hitting the print button. With its duty cycle of 8,000 pages per month, this printer is excellent for offices that do a large volume of printing.
A large paper tray can hold up to 250 pages, minimizing the need for constant reloading, while a single toner cartridge will print about 2,100 pages. It features wireless connectivity that works with a home’s Wi-Fi network for wireless printing. It will also connect directly to a computer via USB. At just 11.4 inches deep, 15 inches wide, and 9.6 inches tall, this printer has a small footprint, making it ideal for a home office.
With its high resolution of 1,200 DPI and ability to print directly from smart devices or an SD card, this inkjet printer is an excellent assistant for professional and amateur photographers alike. This wireless printer connects to a home Wi-Fi network or through Bluetooth via HP’s smartphone app, streamlining the printing process by eliminating the need to first transfer the photos to a computer. This model will also print directly from a camera’s SD card, making it ideal for pros who use high-end digital cameras.
A large touch screen allows for editing directly from the printer. This printer will also fit a wide range of common photo size paper, including 4×5, 4×6, 5×7, and 8×10, and it is capable of borderless printing. It also functions as a copier and scanner in addition to its printing abilities. This printer has a paper output of 14 pages per minute for black ink and nine pages per minute for color ink.
For those who wistfully remember the days of Kodak instant Polaroid pictures, this printer is a great option. This printer will print full-color 2×3 photos directly from a smartphone in under a minute—no photo shaking required! It’s also smaller than a Polaroid camera, at just 3 inches wide, 5 inches long, and 1 inch thick and weighing about half a pound.
This printer takes Kodak 2×3-inch photo paper that has embedded photo crystals that deliver the ink for the photo. It connects easily to a smart device via Bluetooth or NFC technology. With its rechargeable lithium-ion battery, the Kodak Step is truly wireless, allowing it to print photos instantly from virtually any location.
FAQ About Small Printers
If you still have questions about which printer is right for your small home office, then read on for answers to some of the most common concerns.
Q. What should I look for when buying a printer?
When buying a printer, look for a model that will suit your needs. If printing photos is a priority, then look for an inkjet printer with a high DPI that offers borderless printing and can handle the standard paper sizes for photographs. If your home business prints a high volume of reports, then consider a laser printer, which is more economical and prints text in a higher resolution than an inkjet printer.
Q. Do portable printers use ink?
Most portable printers use ink cartridges; however, there are mini printers that do not use ink cartridges and instead use special photo paper that has ink crystals in it that the printer activates when it prints. These printers are designed to print photographs on small 2-inch by 3-inch photo paper.
Q. What is the best small photo printer?
With its high DPI, borderless printing option, and ability to print on photo paper of many common photo sizes, the HP ENVY Photo 7155 All in One Photo Printer is one of the best small photo printers. The KODAK Step Wireless Mobile Photo Mini Printer, which weighs about half a pound and is small enough to fit in a coat pocket, is a great novelty option with its ability to print 2×3-inch photographs on special paper.
Q. How long does a small printer last?
A small printer lasts between three and five years, depending on how often it is used and how well it is maintained.