The top 3 contenders this year for heavy users are the Epson Workforce 840, the HP Officejet Pro 8500a, and the Lexmark Platinum Pro 905. All 3 machines offer great quality prints with lots of bells and whistles, but they also offer wallet friendly ink, and good reliability.
For our light users, those who use their printer primarily for photos, cards, and homework, we have compiled the following list of printers. All of these printers share the most important features to the average at home printer. They are all under $200, print good quality color photos, can be used wirelessly, have user friendly interfaces, and of course have low cost ink options.
The Epson workforce 840 can be found starting at $99 (refurbished) up to $299.99. This printer includes an auto-duplexing feature, wireless networking, mobile printing support, and easy USB and networking connections. It is rated as one of the fastest and most efficient all-in-one printers on the market today. The Workforce 840 takes either the Epson T126 or T127 series of cartridges, which are available as an OEM item, or as a re-manufactured item. While the cost of this printer is more than what you’ll pay for many of the base models you can find at the average big box store, the excellent print quality and functionality of this printer will definitely make it worth it for small businesses or home offices.
The HP Officejet Pro 8500a is another multi-function machine that offers excellent print quality and print speed. The 8500a includes functions such as ePrint and AirPrint support, auto-duplexing, and an automatic document feeder as well as the standard multifunction options of printing, scanning, copying, and faxing. The ink prices are on par with those of the Workforce 840. The only prohibitive aspect of the 8500a is the initial cost. Prices range from $399.99 up to $650.00 making it a hefty hit to the wallet in the beginning. The low ink cost and minimal maintenance requirements do help absorb some of this cost in the long run, but odds are that this printer will find more use in a small business office than at home.
The Lexmark Platinum Pro 905, much like the HP 8500a has a larger price tag than the Epson Workforce 840. However, this machine provides you with blazing fast print speed, and a host of functions and options that can’t be matched by its contemporaries. Purchased new, it includes a 5 year warranty from Lexmark which is always a boon. This printer really does cover the range for any business with a medium to high print need. You can create one touch SmartSolution shortcuts for frequently performed functions, and even check the news headlines or print driving directions directly from the printer. The web-enabled touch screen interface is fairly easy to use, and the dual feed trays allow for less time fiddling with the printer, and more time being productive. The 100xl cartridges it uses are readily available in a compatible format and easy on the pocket book. Overall, it’s pretty hard to beat the package this printer offers for any small office environment.
The Brother MFC-J5910DW. The only major drawback to this printer is the single feed tray, which means that in order to do the larger or smaller glossy prints you want requires swapping out the paper every time. The plus side is that the printer is an all in one that will print, scan, fax, and copy. The print speed isn’t lightning fast, but it’s far from sluggish, so no long wait times. It offers both wireless and Ethernet connections as well as a USB port. The text quality is great, and the picture quality, while not what you will receive from one of the high end printers, is still pretty darn good. Overall, it’s a great little printer for your home.
Next in line is the HP Officejet Pro 8100 ePrinter. The main drawback to this printer is that it is not a multifunction printer, so this is just for printing. The up side? Except for the multifunction capabilities, it is just like the Officejet pro 8600, but for $150 less out the door. What you get with this printer is speed without a loss in quality of print. So for those looking for at home printing and want it done fast, clean, and looking good, this is the printer for you. With better speed than comparable laser printers, and a better operating cost, you can’t really miss the mark here.
The last in our home line suggestions is the Kodak ESP 3.2. This little printer provides the ease of use and great photo printing people have come to expect from Kodak. The down side is that you can’t fax, and it doesn’t have a support for a wired network connection. What you sacrifice in function and connectivity, you make up for in speed and quality. It is one of the only printers in its class that can print a 4x6 color photo in under a minute without losing any of the great quality that is the Kodak trademark. Keep in mind that these printers were designed primarily for photo printing. This means that the text and graphics you see aren’t going to be as crisp as the photos, but on the whole, the output is close enough to others in its class that we consider it a negligible loss. Overall, if your main goal is to print those precious family moments, and you don’t mind using a wireless connection, then the ESP 3.2 is right up your alley.