By: Tara Tuckwiller on June 29, 2017
Whether you want an inkjet or mono laser all-in-one printer, a Brother AIO is the top choice for most, but if photos are a top priority, consider an Epson. For color text and graphics, we also found a great HP color laser AIO thats great for small and home businesses.
Dimensions (w, d, h) — 16.5 x 13.4 x 6.8
Paper capacity — 100-sheet input; 50-sheet output
Max. pages per minute — 12 (black); 10 (color)
Inkjet all-in-one printers can be ink-guzzling money pits — but the Brother MFC-J985DW is refreshingly different, experts say. Its as cheap to run as a bare-bones black-and-white laser printer, but with color inks to print photos and graphics. Its built for home or small office use, with a handy duplexer, touch-screen controls and full networking options (wired, Wi-Fi, mobile or cloud).
Dimensions (w, d, h) — 15.4 x 19.8 x 5.6 inches (max.)
Paper capacity — 100-sheet input; 30-sheet output
Max. pages per minute — 13 (black); 10 (color)
The Epson Expression Premium XP-640 is a value-priced printer thats worth a look for home users on a budget. Ink is pricey, but the printer itself is so cheap that its basically a wash. The XP-640 cuts costs by omitting a few features: Theres no automatic document feeder, Ethernet hookup or NFC (Near Field Communication) support, and it cant fax. If you can live without these niceties, though, the XP-640 is a good choice on the cheap.
For black-and-white printing, the Brother MFC-L2740DW is the hands-down winner. Unlike fussy inkjets, happy owners say this laser all-in-one simply does its job, flawlessly and inexpensively, year after year. Its elegant single-pass duplexer copies, scans or faxes both sides of a page simultaneously — a major time-saver over ordinary, one-side-then-the-other duplexers. Fast printing, a touch screen, big 250-sheet paper tray and full networking options make this the most-recommended all-in-one printer, period.
If your bottom line is a concern, the Brother MFC-L2700DW skips three fancy features compared to the Brother MFC-L2740DW — theres no touch screen, cloud printing/scanning or slick single-pass duplexer (it has a regular duplexer, instead) in exchange for a somewhat smaller price tag. Otherwise, its the same machine as the top-rated Brother MFC-L2740DW. If those three features dont matter to you, save the cash and go with the Brother MFC-L2700DW monochrome laser all-in-one.
Dimensions (w, d, h) — 16.8 x 25.7 x 16.3 (max.)
Paper capacity — 250-sheet input (plus 50-sheet multipurpose tray); 150-sheet output
Max. pages per minute — 28 (black or color)
Best color laser all-in-one printer
Color laser printers dont come cheap, but reviews say the HP Color LaserJet Pro M477fdw packs a lot of bang for the buck. Its blazing-fast and feature-rich, with an elegant single-pass duplexer, touch screen, cloud connectivity and walk-up USB port to print, copy or scan from a thumb drive. High-yield toner cartridges keep print costs reasonable. Color printouts (such as glossy brochures) look fabulous, as does the sharp black text. Its 250-sheet paper tray is large enough for small offices.
All-in-one printers (AIOs) — also called multifunction printers (MFPs) — are inkjet or laser printers that, in addition to printing, can scan; copy; and, in many cases, send and receive faxes. The latest all-in-one printers print wirelessly from your computer, smartphone, or tablet. Many can connect directly to the web, so they can print web pages, emailed documents or documents stored in the cloud. Prices of all-in-one printers have fallen in recent years, with excellent models selling for $200 or less. As a result, all-in-ones now account for the majority of printers sold for home use.
However, while all-in-one printers might appear to be do-everything devices, reviews show that they are not necessarily equally adept at printing, scanning, copying and faxing. Often, a multifunction printer that excels in one aspect falls short in others. Still, if you only occasionally need to fax, copy or scan, an all-in-one printer can save you from having to buy two or three separate devices. On the other hand, if you dont think you really need to scan or fax, you can save a bit of money by going with a standardinkjet printer. You can also save desk space, since all-in-ones generally take up more room than a standard printer (although not nearly as much as a separate printer, scanner and copier). ConsumerSearch covers inkjet printers in a separate report. If all you want is ascanner, we cover those in a separate report as well.
This type of all-in-one prints by spraying ink onto the page. While cheap at the outset — we found a very good budget inkjet MFP for $80 — youll pay dearly for replacement ink cartridges. In one major test, inkjet all-in-one printers cost between $210 and $720 to buy and run for two years (not counting one super-guzzler thatll gulp more than $2,000 worth of ink in two years!). Ink cartridges also tend to dry up or run out suddenly (and often). Worse, if you dont print regularly, the ink nozzles can clog and ruin the printer. Still, if you plan to print photos, youll need an inkjet. Even an inexpensive inkjet all-in-one can print decent-looking color snapshots on glossy photo paper, unlike the vast majority of laser printers.
As long as you dont plan to print photos, monochrome laser AIOs perform better than inkjets in almost every way. Theyre less hassle, and cheaper to own in the long run. Laser printers work by bonding powdered ink (toner) to the page; toner doesnt dry up or clog like ink, and the cartridges dont run out as quickly. These days, a good black-and-white (monochrome) laser MFP doesnt cost much more than an inkjet: We found a great budget model for $130. Mono laser all-in-one printers cost the same — or even less — to own over two years than most inkjets, too ($210 to $440, including the purchase price of the AIO). Plus, youre rewarded with sharp text and faster printing than an inkjet. Mono laser all-in-ones can usually scan in color, even though they only copy and print in black and white.
Color laser all-in-one printers cost the most — nearly $400 for our Best Reviewed pick. They cost the most to run, too ($580 to $860 including the printers purchase price over two years), and they still dont print photos as well as an inkjet. Their strong point? Color graphics and text. If you need to print professional-looking color documents for your home or business (brochures, charts, etc.), a good color laser all-in-one printer will print them crisply, quickly, and with few ink aggravations.
To find the best all-in-one printers, we evaluate all aspects — ease of use, features, cost to own and, of course, how well they perform. We study professional tests at tech-specific publications such as PCMag.com, ComputerShopper.com, TomsGuide.com, CNET and TheWirecutter.com. PCMag.com conducts an annual Readers Choice survey, as well, to find out which printer brands break down the least. We also look at , which conducts thorough, unbiased tests for 102 all-in-one printers, but provides less discussion than the others. Owner reviews at retail websites (Staples.com, BHPhotoVideo.com, Amazon.com and BestBuy.com) provide the last piece of the puzzle; they unearth real-life problems that dont show up in short-term tests.
Most inkjet all-in-one printers are just too slow and ink-wasting for small office use — but not theBrother MFC-J985DW(Est. 170). Unusually low running costs … unheard of in a printer at its price, says PCMag.com, where its the Editors Choice. TomsGuide.com concurs, naming this cost-per-page champ one of 2017s best all-in-one printers.
Its incredibly cheap to run — actually rivaling a black-and-white laser printer in that important consideration. Text pages cost 0.8 cents per page, experts calculate, and 4.7 cents for color. Over two years, expect to spend about $350 to buy and run the printer, according to a leading test.
It prints text quickly, for an inkjet. It shoots out about 9 pages per minute (ppm) in two independent tests. Mixed text/graphics slows to 4.6 ppm at PCMag,com, a typical speed for an inkjet MFP at its price, Tony Hoffman says.
Color photos and graphics look pretty darn good, testers agree — not as brilliant and detailed as from a photo-centric printer, but impressive. Glossy photos printed with very sharp details, rich colors and good shadow detail, says Eric Butterfield at TomsGuide.com. Text looks near-laser quality all the way down to fonts of about 6 or 7 points, says William Harrel at ComputerShopper.com.
Scans and copies look very good in tests. Theres a letter-size flatbed scanner, and the MFC-J985DW can print and copy on paper up to legal size. The main paper tray holds 100 sheets, with a 20-sheet 4-by-6-inch photo bypass tray. A built-in duplexer and 20-sheet automatic document feeder allow two-sided printing and scanning. Brother says the printer can churn out up to 2,500 pages in a month, but recommends a maximum of 1,000 pages per month normally.
Wi-Fi, Ethernet and USB hookups allow you to print either wired or wirelessly from your computer or directly from your smartphone or tablet (iOS, Android, Windows or Kindle Fire). You can also print from and scan to the cloud (Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive, OneDrive and more are supported) or a USB drive. A touch screen makes the MFC-J985DW easy to use.
Owners love the MFC-J985DW according to reviews at Staples.com and BestBuy.com, where it averages over 4 stars. They say the printer is compact, well built, and the ink really does last a long time. At Amazon.com, owners award the printer 4 stars over more than 300 reviews; thats high praise for an inkjet printer, but not nearly as high as some Brother laser MFPs get, and we talk about a top choice among those in our discussion oflaser all-in-one printers, elsewhere in this report.
If youre on a tighter budget, you may want to consider the cheaperEpson Expression Premium XP-640(Est. 80). It offers a lot of the Brothers features and costs half the price — but it cant fax; lacks an automatic document feeder, Ethernet hookup and NFC (Near Field Communication) support; and its pricey ink winds up costing more in the long run.
Still, if youre looking for an all-in-one device that wont break the bank while handling most tasks you can throw at it, Epsons XP-640 fits the bill, TomsGuide.com says. Text doesnt look as sharp as the Brothers in tests, but graphics and photos actually look better, in some testers eyes — in fact, TomsGuide.com names it Best for Photos among all-in-ones. PCMag.com agrees: Without question, the XP-640s photos came out looking good enough to do justice to your keeper snapshots.
The Epson prints about as fast, handles the same paper sizes and ticks a lot of the same boxes as the Brother — touch screen, duplexer, wireless printing (including directly from your phone or tablet), cloud printing and one-year warranty.
Now for the drawbacks. Youll spend more on ink over time (7.4 cents per text page — nine times as much as the Brother, according to one leading test), although the printers cheap price offsets that (expect to spend $310 to buy and run the printer for two years). As for durability, Epson doesnt specify anywhere how much printing the XP-640 can handle per month. At any rate, reviewers say Epson printers arent as durable as Brothers. In a major consumer survey, one out of every five new Epson inkjet printers broke within three years, versus about one in eight Brother inkjets. And in PCMag.coms reader survey, Brother beats Epson in every category, including reliability, need for repairs and need for (and quality of) tech support.
Still, like the Brother, the Epson Expression Premium XP-640 earns high marks from customers at Staples.com and BestBuy.com. But at Amazon.com, about one in six owners blast it with a 1-star rating. Malfunctions and paper jams are common complaints.
What every best All-in-One Printers has:
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