Having your ink or toner run out unexpectedly can be at best frustrating, and at worst a serious problem, especially if you’re working or schooling from home.
With tank-style printers, you’ll often get more prints without having to regularly deal with the hassle of going to a shop or setting up an online order.
That’s why HP’s new Neverstop printers are an interesting launch. They’re unique laser printers with a tank-style reservoir to hold the toner, doing away with the need for toner cartridges and promising 5,000 prints straight out of the box.
Find out more about tank printers, the two HP models on test, and an Epson EcoTank rival.
Browse all the best printers from our tough tests.
How do tank printers work?
Tank printers don’t use ink or toner cartridges, instead they have a small ‘tank’ which holds the ink or toner. So rather than having to change the cartridge when it’s empty, you just need to fill the tank up.
Inkjets often go through cleaning cycles to clean the print head, which tends to waste ink before it even gets to your page. Laser printers don’t have print heads to clean, which often makes them cheaper to run.
The Neverstop printers are laser models with a tank, but there are also a range of ink-tank printers, too.
HP Neverstop 1202nw, £259.99
The Neverstop 1202nw prints in black and white, and has a scanner and copier. It’s wireless, so you’ll be able to connect without cables and print from your smartphone or tablet, too.
It’s the only laser printer we’ve tested that uses tank technology, and HP promises it’s easy and quick (apparently taking just 15 seconds) to reload the toner with their special kit.
We know cartridge-free technology is likely to make it cheap to run, but that’s no good if the print quality isn’t up to scratch. Read our full HP Neverstop 1202nw review to find out how it fared in our tests.
HP Neverstop 1001nw, £229.99
The Neverstop 1001nw is the same as its sister model, the 1202nw, but without the scanner and copier.
It costs £30 less and you’ll get all the same features, including a USB and ethernet port for easy connectivity, plus a wide array of wireless printing options, even if you’re not connected to a network.
HP claim you can print a remarkable 20 pages per minute. We make sure to time just how long you’re waiting for your prints. Check out our Neverstop 1001nw review to see if it really churns out high-quality prints in seconds.
Epson EcoTank ET-2711, £159.98
The Epson EcoTank ET-2711 is an all-in-one colour inkjet which is refilled with ink bottles rather than cartridges. It has a scanner and copier, so it can produce colour copies too.
Find out how well it prints and whether you can expect top-quality photos in our Epson EcoTank ET-2711 review.
The importance of printing costs
Ink tanks tend to be economical, but if you prefer a traditional inkjet printer, a standard laser printer or are simply looking to spend a bit less up front, always bear ongoing costs in mind.
A low price for a new printer might seem appealing until you find out how much it costs to run. Consider the following before you make your next purchase:
- What will I use the printer for? Inkjets are often better at reproducing colour than laser printers and, conversely, lasers are better and more economical with documents.
- How often will I use it? This is where cost per page comes in and additional features such as an automatic document feeder.
- How much will replacements cost? Always research ink or toner costs before you buy and consider third-party ink. Our survey shows that people are happier with them overall, in comparison with ink from big brands such as Brother, Canon, Epson and HP. Read our guide to the best cheap printer ink for more.
Ink price is one thing, but another is how much and how efficiently a printer uses it. That’s why we look at the running cost of each and every printer that goes through our lab tests, so you can see estimates of how much they will cost over one, two and three years of average printing.
This can really stack up – we’ve found costly printers that could set you back more than £450 per year in consumables, compared with just a couple of pounds for the less expensive models.
Read our guide to the best cheap printers to buy and run for a round-up of the models that impressed us the most, and some wasteful printers to avoid.