Believe it or not, it’s possible to find an affordable printer that handles the bare essentials for any household or office.
Cheap printers have their limitations, but for some people, they’re capable enough for everyday printing. Some basic printers even have one or two premium perks, such as mobile printing or duplex printing capabilities.
Provided you have realistic expectations, you’ll be able to find a printer within your budget. To point you in the right direction, we’re sharing this overview of what to expect from cheap printers with a few recommendations at the end.
What’s the difference between expensive and cheap printers?
Print speed refers to how fast a printer prints. It’s expressed in pages per minute, or ppm.
Print and image quality is significantly better with expensive printers, especially laser printers and premium color printers. They’re ideal for individuals or professionals that need to create pamphlets or flyers on a regular basis.
Cheap printers, on the other hand, have decent or passable print and image quality. While text and pictures won’t appear blurry by any means, they won’t be as crisp and clear as documents printed by expensive printers. Instead, cheap printers are better for simple, everyday printing, like word files.
It’s easy to say you get when you pay for when it comes to printers, but price doesn’t necessarily dictate lifespan.
Cheap printers are often used for small or low-volume print jobs. Even if they’re used daily, they’re not subjected to as much stress as expensive printers that frequently do high-volume printing jobs. As a result, it’s not unusual for some cheap printers to outlast expensive ones by a few years.
Basic printer features
Black-and-white vs. color printing
There are color printers and black-and-white printers, but it should come as no surprise that color printers cost more than black-and-white models. However, it’s not always worth the extra cost for color printing capabilities.
For one, color printers aren't ideal if you mostly print text-based documents. Color printers are also more expensive in the long run. You'll need to replace pricey sets of color ink cartridges and toner, rather than black ink cartridges for black-and-white printing.
Wired vs. wireless printing
Printers either have wired or wireless printing, and you’ll find both types in the budget-friendly price range.
Wired printers must be hard-wired to a computer. Many consumers still prefer these printers because of their more reliable connection. Setup and configuration is far more user-friendly with wired printers, as well.
Wireless printers are either Bluetooth or WiFi-enabled. These printers are ideal for households and offices with multiple computers, in which case a wired connection isn’t practical. Some wireless printers also offer mobile printing, in which you can send print jobs from compatible apps.
Duplex printing refers to double-sided printing. Printers that only offer printing on one side of paper are referred to as simplex printers.
Only some cheap printers offer duplex printing, and more often than not, it's models at the top of the budget-friendly price range. Duplex printing is considered a highly desirable feature to eco-conscious consumers because it reduces printer paper consumption by printing on fewer pages.
Scanning and copying
It's common for printers, including affordable models, to function as all-in-one devices. In addition to printing, these models are capable of scanning and copying. These printers offer the most bang for their buck in terms of overall convenience.
How much do cheap printers cost?
Cheap printers cost $200 or less. Those around $60 to $120 mostly are basic black-and-white printers. Printers priced around $150 are usually wireless, while models around $200 likely have color, duplex or mobile printing capabilities.
Touted as one of the best printers under $100, this budget-friendly model doesn’t compromise on features. It offers wireless connectivity for easy printing from any device as well as scanning and copying.
Those who print in black-and-white can appreciate the reliability of this Brother printer. It prints a whopping 36 pages per minute and is capable of printing 2,000 pages per month. The printer is also compatible with Apple AirPrint.
Look no further than this model for a user-friendly, color printer. With a large 2.7-inch touchscreen, it’s easy to customize print jobs. This affordable model also offers mobile printing from most devices. Also available from Best Buy
In addition to easy setup, this printer offers easy pairing with smartphones for quick mobile printing. Manage jobs through the Canon Print app, and if you want to print your photos, conveniently edit any before printing through a few of Canon’s creative apps. Also available from Best Buy
Creatives can enjoy superior photo quality with this printer. The device uses high-quality Claria inks that are smudge-, fade-, and water-resistant. It’s also capable of printing on specialty paper and DVDs. Also available from Best Buy
Sian Babish is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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