Which? Best Buy printers

by Katie Waller

Which? Best Buy printers turn out great, fast prints time after time and won't cost you a small fortune in ink. Find your perfect printer.

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  • Best Buy
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A printer should produce fantastic prints of your favourite photos or important documents without costing you a huge amount in ink. A Which? Best Buy printer will do exactly that, and should also be easy to set up and use, too, whether you choose a wireless printer, laser printer or an all-in-one.

Which? tests more than 60 printers a year, churning out thousands of photo, text and graphics prints as well as scanning and copying pages to find the fastest, cheapest to run and best quality printers.

  • Every year Which? spends around £9,000 on ink cartridges, testing the quality and running costs of every printer so that you can spend less printing at home.
  • Our expert panel compares hundreds of prints, copies and scans every year to help you find a printer that will do your photos justice and produce good looking pages every time.
  • We reveal the printers that won't keep you waiting for your prints - essential when you're need to print that 40-page report in a hurry.

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How we uncover the best printers

Some printers are cheap to buy, but that doesn't mean they're cheap in the long run. It's critical to take ink costs into account before you buy.

Only Which? runs an ‘occasional printing’ test - based on printing a few pages at a time as you might at home - to give you a more realistic idea of printing costs. Buy a wasteful printer and you'll get stung when it comes to printing costs, even if you don't print often. The priciest printers to run can use up to six times more ink when you leave time between print jobs, compared with printing the same number of pages in one go – vastly adding to the amount you spend on ink.

Our testing doesn’t end there - we also test print quality, print speed, ease of use and any additional all-in-one printer features such as built-in scanners and photo copiers. You can be sure that a Which? Best Buy will excel in all areas.

  • Printing cost: Alongside our ‘occasional printing’ test, we set printers running almost continuously, printing as many text, spreadsheet and photo pages as we can from three new sets of ink cartridges. Using a typical retail price for each individual cartridge, we divide the cost of the ink used by the number of pages printed, to find the average ink cost per print.
  • Print quality: Using each printer’s best-quality settings, we print a typical black-and-white letter, an 8x10-inch photo, a colour graphics page containing charts and graphs, and a colour graphics page of text with images, like you’d see on a webpage. Our panel of experts assesses and rates them for colour accuracy, sharpness and overall print quality.
  • Text print speed: We time how many pages of text a printer churns out in 60 seconds, as well as timing how long it takes for the first page to come out of the printer when you first turn it on. The quickest printers are ready to print in around 15 seconds, but the slowest leave you waiting a minute and a half for your first page.
  • Photo print speed: A quick photo printer can turn out a top-quality A4 photo print on glossy paper in around a minute-and-a-half. We also judge picture quality and measure how quickly the smaller 6x4-inch photos are printed from a memory card slot, or from a camera if the printer has direct photo-printing options.
  • Ease of use: We rate how easy it is to set up the printer, swap paper in and out, use the scan and copy functions and print from memory card or a camera for printers with these features. We also monitor whether you can still print using the other inks if one of the ink cartridges runs out, and whether the printer uses any colour ink when printing black text pages – any ink use is captured in our ink cost tests.

Printer reviews you can trust

We test models from the biggest printer brands on the market in the Which? test lab - including HP, Canon, Epson, Samsung, Brother and Dell.

Through our extensive, independent lab testing we've discovered that even the most trustworthy brand can occasionally release a printer that produces sub-standard prints and costs a fortune in ink. That’s why we'll highlight the best printers on the market and guide you to your ideal printer whether you’re looking for a printer for the home or the office.

Which? is independent - we work for you, the consumer, so you can be sure that our product recommendations are influenced only by our test results. We don't take advertising and we buy all the products that we test ourselves, so our advice helps you to make the right choice first time and avoid costly mistakes.

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