• February 26, 2024, 12:47 am

The best small printers for 2024 SoftAIT

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Update : Tuesday, January 9, 2024

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The best small printers

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For those with limited space, small printers can be hugely beneficial. These compact devices can even be assets for those with printing needs while traveling. Despite the compact size, these printers can often offer all-in-one capabilities, wireless connectivity, and excellent print quality. They come in all varieties, from laser and inkjet to miniature Zero Ink devices. The best small printers will meet your printing needs while taking up significantly less space in your home or office.

How we chose the best small printers

When selecting the best small printers, we, of course, prioritized size. However, we focused on more than just portable devices and included options geared toward stationary use as well. Beyond device footprint, we also evaluated print quality, features, connectivity, and print speed. We made our selections based on a mix of hands-on experience, user feedback, and editorial reviews.

The best small printers: Reviews & Recommendations

Don’t let the diminutive size fool you; small printers can still output plenty of quality with top-notch features, even for demanding folks. Plus, they typically come at lower price points than larger printers, which is an added benefit.

Best overall: HP OfficeJet Pro 8025e

Specs

  • Printing technology: Color inkjet
  • Functions: Print, copy, scan, fax
  • Maximum print speed: 20 ppm black, 10 ppm color
  • Maximum print size: 8.5 x 14 inches
  • Weight: 18.4 pounds
  • Dimensions: 13.43 x 18.11 x 9.21 inches

Pros

  • Comes with six free months of Instant Ink
  • All-in-one functionality
  • Good print quality
  • Relatively fast print speeds

Cons

  • Photo quality is lacking
  • Doesn’t support duplex scanning

Our top pick isn’t portable, but it is compact enough to take up minimal space on your desk or counter. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8025e is a full-function all-in-one, meaning it can scan, copy, print, and fax. It’s a great choice for busy homes or small offices. It comes with six months of HP Instant Ink, the company’s automatic ink delivery service. It includes cartridge recycling, which we appreciate.

Though this printer isn’t breaking any speed records, it is able to print up to 20 ppm in black and white and 10 ppm in color. It offers USB, WiFi, Ethernet connectivity, as well as Apple AirPrint and Mopria Print Service. You’ll even be able to take advantage of self-healing WiFi, keeping you from fussing with settings as frequently.

The OfficeJet Pro 8025e is capable of auto duplexing (automatic two-sided printing), though it cannot duplex scan. The automatic document feeder is ideal for scanning or copying multi-page documents. It prints high-quality documents with sharp and clear text. It does lack in photo quality, though that’s to be expected in an office-oriented all-in-one. Overall, this HP printer is one of your best choices if you need a well-rounded printer with a small footprint.

Best portable: HP OfficeJet 250

HP OfficeJet 250

Specs

  • Printing technology: Color inkjet
  • Functions: Print, scan, copy
  • Maximum print speed: 10 ppm black, 7 ppm color
  • Maximum print size: 8.5 × 14 inches
  • Weight: 6.5 pounds
  • Dimensions: 14.96 x 7.8 x 3.6 inches

Pros

  • Very compact and lightweight
  • Battery is rechargeable
  • Plenty of connectivity options
  • Includes a 50-sheet paper tray

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Doesn’t come with a USB cable

The HP OfficeJet 250 takes small to the next level while maintaining full functionality with plenty of features. This portable printer weighs 6.5 pounds but is small enough to fit into a backpack or larger briefcase. It can run off of an internal rechargeable battery, which provides a life of roughly 225 prints. The battery power is a big plus for those needing to print receipts or documents at events.

Despite the compact size, the OfficeJet 250 is an all-in-one with everything but fax functionality. It features an auto-document feeder and a sheetfed scanner. There’s also a 50-sheet paper tray, so you don’t need to add paper one by one like some portable printers. The color touchscreen makes it easy to adjust settings without needing to pull out your phone or computer. And you can connect via USB (though you’ll need to buy a cable), WiFi, or USB flash drive.

The portable form factor doesn’t result in lower quality, either. It produces high-quality scans, sharp text, and color prints that easily meet professional business standards. Just be aware that you will be waiting for those prints. The print speeds are on the slow side, with only 7 ppm for color prints when plugged into a power source. That slows down slightly when running on the battery. It’s also not a cheap printer. But if you need access to printing, scanning, or copying on the go, the OfficeJet 250 is the best available.

Specs

  • Printing technology: Instant film
  • Functions: Print
  • Maximum print speed: 12 seconds per print
  • Maximum print size: 2.4 x 3.9 inches
  • Weight: 0.75 pounds
  • Dimensions: 6.1 x 2.8 x 7.6 inches

Pros

  • Very portable
  • Comes with a stand
  • Photos are vibrant and sharp
  • Doesn’t use ink

Cons

  • Only for photos
  • Film can get expensive

Fujifilm is perhaps best known for its party-friendly Instax cameras. But the company also makes mini printers that print instant photos as well. The Instax Link Wide prints the largest version of Instax film, which results in a 2.4 by 3.9-inch print. Should you want an even smaller miniature printer, the Instax Mini Link 2 produces even smaller two-by-three-inch prints.

Once you download the Instax Link WIDE app, pairing the printer to your phone via Bluetooth is easy. Printing is simple and relatively quick, though you’ll need to wait for it to develop since it is an instant film photo. The app provides lots of tools, including the ability to crop, adjust brightness, contrast, and saturation, or add filters. You can even add text and stickers, create collages, or add a QR code. The app also tells you the battery life and how many shots you have left.

The printer itself is very small, weighing less than a pound, and easily fitting in a backpack. It comes with a handy stand, which allows it to sit upright. It charges via micro USB, and Fujifilm promises 100 prints per charge. Considering each film pack only contains 10 shots, that’s plenty, even for most vacations. Because this printer uses instant film, you won’t need to worry about purchasing ink. The film will run you roughly a dollar per shot at the time of writing.

The prints from the Instax Link Wide are excellent, with sharp details and vibrant, true-to-life color. I’ve been very impressed by the print quality. It is significantly better than other zero-ink printers, so it made our list. Of course, this mini printer is only designed for photos, so those wanting to print documents must look elsewhere. But it is fun to turn your digital photos into a physical, retro-looking print. Plus, you can print multiple at a time, making it a great choice for parties or gifting prints to friends and family.

Best laser: Brother HL-L2350DW

The best small printers

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Specs

  • Printing technology: Monochrome laser
  • Functions: Print
  • Maximum print speed: 32 ppm
  • Maximum print size: 8.5 x 14 inches
  • Weight: 15.9 pounds
  • Dimensions: 14 x 14.2 x 7.2 inches

Pros

  • Excellent text quality
  • Very fast print speeds
  • Auto duplexing
  • Low cost-per-print

Cons

  • Print only
  • Monochrome isn’t for everyone

For those needing a simple printer to handle occasional text documents, a monochrome laser printer can be a great way to save money. This Brother laser printer is reasonably priced with a compact footprint to take up minimal space in your home office. The toner cartridges are high-yield, meaning you won’t need to buy new toner very often. When you do buy toner, they are relatively affordable, so you’ll save money in the long run compared to a color inkjet printer.

The Brother HL-L2350DW is a single-function printer, so you won’t be able to scan or copy. It’s also a monochrome printer, so you can only print in black and white. But what it does, it does extremely well. It produces very clear and sharp text. Graphs also look excellent from this printer. It offers auto duplexing, meaning it can print two-sided documents without you needing to flip the page just the right way.

The HL-L2350DW offers plenty of connectivity options, including USB, WiFi, and NFC. A 250-sheet paper tray keeps you from constantly reloading paper. Or there is a manual feed slot that works with a variety of paper types and sizes. Though this printer may lack the functionality that some desire, it’s a fantastic choice for a basic workhorse office printer.

Best budget: HP DeskJet 2755e

HP DeskJet 2755e

Specs

  • Printing technology: Color inkjet
  • Functions: Print, scan, copy
  • Maximum print speed: 7.5 ppm black, and 5.5 ppm color
  • Maximum print size: 8.5 × 14 inches
  • Weight: 7.5 pounds
  • Dimensions: 11.97 x 16.7 x 6.06 inches

Pros

  • Very affordable
  • Compact
  • All-in-one functionality
  • Useful mobile app

Cons

You don’t have to spend a lot to get a quality small printer. The HP DeskJust 2755e comes in under $100, with frequent sales that bring the price even lower. It has a tiny footprint, taking up minimal space on your desk or counter. And despite that, it is an all-in-one with the ability to print, scan, and copy. You can even fax (send only) using the HP Smart app. That makes it an ideal choice for busy families and home use.

This color inkjet produces sharp text and good photos. They won’t be professional lab-quality photos, but that’s not surprising for such a budget-friendly printer. It is easy to set up, and the mobile app offers a lot of functionality. You can connect via WiFi, which is self-healing, as well as USB. Mobile printing is also available.

The primary downside to this printer is ink costs. The cost-per-page is quite high compared to other printers. You can save some money with HP’s Instant Ink subscription service, but this is something to keep in mind if you print a lot.

Choosing a small printer is the same as selecting any printer, though with a focus on compact devices. Of course, you’ll first need to decide how small is necessary. Are you wanting to travel with your printer? If so, a portable, battery-powered device may be best. Do you want to print small photos when out with friends? A mini photo printer will be the way to go. Or do you just want a compact option to sit on your desk in your home office? Then, a traditional all-in-one with a small footprint may be your best bet.

Beyond that, there are a handful of other things that are important to consider when choosing the best small printer for your needs.

Inkjet vs. laser

When choosing a printer for your home or business, you must first decide between inkjet and laser printers. These two types of devices produce prints in different ways, each with pros and cons.

Inkjet printers use small nozzles to spray liquid ink or dye onto paper. The liquid ink results in more vibrant photos or graphics with smoother gradients, which is why inkjet printers are the technology of choice for artists. But that ink can smudge if not handled properly immediately after printing. Also, the ink can dry in the nozzles and clog them up if you don’t use the printer frequently. But they are more affordable to buy, which is why they are typically the preferred option for home use.

Laser printers use toner cartridges that contain powder. The printer then uses static electricity to attract the powder and heat to imprint the toner onto the paper. Because of this printing method, laser printers can sit inactive for much longer periods than inkjet printers. They are also better at producing sharp, detailed text and handling high volumes, so they are the most common choice for offices. Although toner is more affordable than inkjet cartridges, laser printers are more expensive to buy.

Functionality

Printers typically offer anywhere from one (only printing) to four (print, scan, copy, and fax) functions. Even small printers come with all-in-one functionality, though those won’t be the smallest options. If you only need to print, you can skip the all-in-ones to save on space and cost. However, if you also want to scan or copy, focus on an all-in-one.

Connectivity

All printers offer wireless connectivity at this point, but those wireless options may vary across printers. Also, some may offer features like USB or SD card printing. If you want lots of options for how you print, be sure to look closely at connectivity options.

Print speed

Sprint speed isn’t important to everyone. But if you don’t want to wait around for prints, you should prioritize printers with fast print speeds. For the impatient folks out there (or those who do a lot of printing), printers with a print speed faster than 20 pages per minute (ppm)—and ideally over 30 ppm—are your best bet.

Print size

Finally, you’ll want to consider how large you plan on printing. For basic home or office use, 8.5 by 11 inches is standard and will suit you just fine. You won’t find a small printer that prints larger than 8.5 by 14 inches, however. For that, you’ll need a wide-format printer. But, if you want a printer strictly for casual photos, a smaller device that tops out at 5 by 7 inches may be the smart move.

FAQs

Q: Is laser or inkjet better?

Laser and inkjet printers each have advantages and disadvantages, so which is best depends on how you use the printer and your individual needs. Laser printers are better at handling lots of volume but can also sit unused for long periods without issues and are more expensive in terms of upfront cost. Inkjet printers are cheaper to buy and better at producing vibrant graphics and photos with smooth gradients. But they use expensive ink that can dry up and clog printers if it isn’t used regularly.

Q: Do laser printers need ink?

Laser printers use powdered toner instead of dye or pigment-based ink. They do not need ink, but they do require toner.

Q: Do mini printers need ink?

Most mini printers do not need ink. The lack of ink cartridges is part of what allows the printers to be so small and portable. Instead, they rely on ZINK (Zero Ink) technology (or some variation of that), which embeds the ink directly into the paper.

Q: Can I print from my phone?

Yes, most printers support mobile printing, which allows you to print directly from your phone. How you do so depends on which mobile device and printer you use, but printer companies have simplified the process. Typically, you just need a printer connected to WiFi, though some offer Bluetooth connectivity as well.

Q: Do home printers come with ink cartridges?

Yes, most home printers come with ink cartridges. Companies like Epson, Brother, and Canon all ship their printers with a set of ink cartridges (or bottles) so that you have everything you need in one box.

Final thoughts on the best small printers

There are lots of reasons to purchase a small printer. Whether you simply don’t have much space, need a portable device, or only want to make small prints, these compact devices offer a lot despite their minimal footprints. The best small printer for your needs will depend on what you need a printer for, so be sure to plan ahead before purchasing.

Why trust us

Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.

Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.

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