Today, a printer along with a PC or notebook is almost standard on every household. A modern, multifunctional printer prints lab-quality photos and written paperwork with the same degree of success, even scanning and copying photo and text documents is not a problem. Usually, this device is easy to control and also convinces with an excellent print result. In this guide on STERN.de, we present our reader’s several inkjet printers for home use and semi-professional use.
On the one hand, you can get to know some bestsellers and best-rated models based on our product recommendations. On the other hand, we inform you about the structure, the principle of operation and the advantages of an inkjet printer compared to a laser printer. We analyze the key features of a typical inkjet printer and evaluate its relevance to the consumer. Our Buying Guide will guide you through seven easy steps to the product you’re looking for, and the linked inkjet printer reviews will help you find your way around the widest range of these devices.
Top 10 Inkjet Printers
- Mobile Device Printing: Easily print from your iPhone, iPad, Android or tablet
- Quick and Easy Wireless Setup. Paper Sizes- 4 x 6, 5 x 7, Letter, Legal, U.S. #10 Envelopes. Output Tray Capacity- 100 Sheets Plain Paper -OR- 20...
- Powerful Printing options: Airprint, Google Cloud Print, NFC, Mopria and Canon Print
- BEST FOR SMALL BUSINESSES AND HOME OFFICES – Print professional-quality color documents like forms, reports, brochures and presentations
- KEY FEATURES – Fast color print, copy, scan and fax, plus 2-sided printing, mobile and wireless printing, and an auto document feeder
- ONE ADDITIONAL YEAR WARRANTY COVERAGE WITH HP+ ENROLLMENT – Just signup and activate HP+ to receive 1 additional year of HP warranty coverage on...
- Everything you need for impressive prints – From borderless, two-sided color prints to the built-in Wi-Fi Direct for easy mobile printing, this HP...
- Our most powerful printing app ever – The HP Smart app allows you to set up your HP wireless printer, scan documents with your camera, and print...
- Affordable, professional color - Manage your budget with professional-quality color at up to 50% less cost per page than lasers
- Up to 1 year of ink in box: Using the MFCJ995DW cartridges provided, get exceptional savings and uninterrupted printing for up to 1 year(1)
- Inkvestment tank system: Reengineered ink cartridges hold more ink and work with an internal ink storage tank to deliver uninterrupted printing....
- Eliminate ink replacement guesswork: Brother intelligent Page Gauge(2) lets you know the amount of ink you’ve used and the amount remaining
- UP TO 1-YEAR OF INK IN-BOX: Experience truly uninterrupted printing, exceptional savings and super convenience with up to 1 year of ink, based on...
- REVOLUTIONARY INKVESTMENT TANK SYSTEM: Brother Investment Tank inkjet all-in-1 printers feature reengineered ink cartridges that hold more ink and...
- ELIMINATE INK REPLACEMENT GUESSWORK: You can print with confidence using the Brother Page Gauge to help take the guesswork out of when to replace ink....
- PRINT FOR PENNIES AND NICKELS: Less than one cent/page black and white and less than five cents/page color(1) with Brother Investment cartridges
- WIRELESS AND MOBILE PRINTING: Wireless connectivity; Wi-Fi Direct no router needed; print and scan from smartphone, tablet, laptop, and desktop (2)
- VERSATILE PAPER HANDLING: Up to 100-sheet capacity tray for letter or legal-size paper or up to 20-sheet auto document feeder for convenience
- Print, copy or scan quickly and easily using the 2.4" color LCD it’s all at your fingertips.
- Save time and paper with auto 2-sided printing more time for you to be productive.
- Create high-quality, personalized projects quickly with fast print speeds up to 14 ISO ppm (black) and 7.5 ISO ppm (color).
- Brother MFC-J497DW Wireless color inkjet all-in-one printer with mobile device and Duplex printing
- Compact, and easy to connect. Compact color inkjet all-in-one printer that fits in tight spaces in your home, Home office or small office so you can...
- Simple to connect your way. Versatile connection options with built-in wireless or connect locally to a single computer via USB interface
- Simple to connect: Choose from built in wireless or connect locally to a single PC or Mac via USB interface. MFCJ491DW offers easy to set up wireless...
- Mobile printing: Print wirelessly from mobile devices(1) using Air Print, Google Cloud Print, Brother iPrint & Scan, Mopria and Wi Fi Direct
- Cloud connectivity: Scan to popular Cloud services directly from the printer including Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, One Drive and more(2)
What is an inkjet printer?
Each inkjet printer, or more specifically, an ink-based printer, is an electronic device regardless of the model. The main purpose of this machine is to use digital information to create a printed image on paper. The medium used is a printer ink enclosed in the ink cartridges, which, controlled by a minicomputer, is pressed through microscopically small nozzles. It does not matter what kind of digital documents it is. An inkjet printer brings texts, graphs or images onto the paper, whereby the printing resolution differs from model to model. The modern printers are powered by an AC power source and require a power connection.
How does an inkjet printer work?
If a printer is connected to the mains and already set up by the user, the device must have access to the digitized information sources. This can happen in different ways. The traditional method is to connect an inkjet printer via USB to the appropriate device and to give orders to the printer through an interactive interface available on the monitor of the connected device. The new generation printers are usually equipped with a wireless LAN interface or another wireless connection option. Not a few models also have a slot for the SD memory cards. After the paper is loaded in the input tray, a print job may be issued. A copy of each file is sent wirelessly or via cable to the inkjet printer where it is stored on an integrated hard disk.
The printer uses a provided copy to transfer it to paper. In order for the printing to succeed, two things have to happen: On the one hand, a special mechanism moves the paper sheet so that the image can be created line by line. On the other hand, in most of the models offered today, a heating element heats the ink to around 300 ° C, with the resulting vapour being the ink drops targeted by hundreds of microscopic nozzles in the ink cartridge squeezed out on the paper. The size of the ink drops is understandably also in the microscopic range and reaches depending on the needs and printer model between 3 and 40 picoliters, ie trillions of parts of a litre.
The general term for the technology when the print image is created using individual drops of ink ejected through the nozzles of the cartridges is Drop-on-Demand (DoD). An alternative is Continuous Ink Jet (CIJ) technology, which uses a high-pressure pump to generate an inkjet that is split into individual droplets using a piezoelectric transducer. The CIJ process is used almost exclusively in professional top-class printers. The ink cartridges or cartridges are located in the designated holders of the printhead.
This is moved horizontally across the paper by a precision stepper motor to print on one row at a time. Under the influence of heat and air, the ink dries quickly and partially penetrates the paper. The thinner the paper, the longer it usually takes to dry. Therefore, it is recommended that you use only specialized paper when printing with an ink-based printer. The printed paper leaves the printer and is placed in an output slot. The capacity of the output tray is almost always less than that of the paper feed tray.
Which models of inkjet printers are there?
The range of ink-based printers surprises with a variety of models that differ in many ways. We offer you an easy way to get the first overview of the market by dividing all consumer inkjet printers into three large groups:
- Monofunctional printers. This group are pure printers that do not have any additional features on board and can only be used to print text or image documents.
- 3-in-1 printer. These devices are referred to as multifunction printers or all-in-one printers. A 3-in-1 printer always has a flatbed scanner and a copier on board. Depending on your needs, copying can be done in black and white or in colour.
- 4-in-1 printer. These printers are also referred to as multifunction or all-in-one printers. In addition to the copy and scan function, these versatile devices also include a fax function. Since the importance of fax machines has dropped sharply in recent years, the 4-in-1 inkjet printers are offered comparatively rarely.
It is, of course, possible to make further classifications. In order to make it easier for you to decide on one model or another, we will go even further into the other criteria and equipment features in our purchase guide. Earlier in the description of the operation of inkjet printers, we have already discussed the most common thermal printing process. Almost all leading providers are currently using this method. An exception is the traditional company Epson, which still likes the piezoelectric processes, in which the ink drops are pressed out of the nozzles by the piezo crystals. The crystals form under the action of electrical voltage. In the end, however, the printing process – producing printed images through microscopic ink droplets – looks exactly like thermal printing.
What are the features and functions of an inkjet printer?
The equipment of the printer can, of course, be quite different. We list the most common features and point out their benefits to the consumer:
- Copier. The multifunction printers can be used to copy any type of document; the upper-class printers also allow the documents to be zoomed so that, for example, a document available in DIN A5 is transferred to DIN A4 format.
- Scanner. Each 3 in 1 multifunction printer carries a flatbed scanner on board. Some upper-middle and upper-class models are even equipped with an extra paper tray for multi-page scans. Most newer printers offer the so-called Scan-to-E-Mail function, whereby the scanned documents can be sent directly to a selected e-mail address. Even if a smartphone app nowadays turns any smartphone into a miniature scanner, the image quality of a multifunction printer is better on average. In addition, scanning with an inkjet printer does not incur any additional costs, while the use of most scanning apps is chargeable.
- Fax machine. Although faxes are being used less and less often today, as there are plenty of alternative forms of electronic document distribution, some manufacturers still provide their inkjet printers with a fax function. The 4-in-1 printers belong to the upper-middle class and are intended for home use as well as smaller offices.
- USB interface. The connectivity of external devices via Universal Serial Bus (USB) is standard today. Each printer model is equipped with a USB port. Today, the corresponding ports are mainly a high-speed USB interface (USB 2.0 and higher), which allows data transfer at up to 48 Mbytes / s or even more.
- WLAN interface. Most of the new generation of inkjet printers are Wi-Fi enabled and therefore qualified for mobile printing. Wireless connectivity to external devices provides more flexibility. In addition, the ink-based wireless-capable printers can easily be integrated into a network and are thus usually the right choice for an office.
- Wi-Fi Direct. This possibility of mobile data transmission is now also widespread and found in many printers. Thanks to the Wi-Fi Direct, the information can be directly exchanged between two WLAN-enabled devices, a router or a hot-spot are not necessary. Especially for direct printing from a smartphone, tablet or similar gadget, this connection option is ideal.
- Ethernet, Bluetooth. Not a few inkjet printers are equipped with these interfaces, among other things, in order to achieve more flexibility.
- SD card slot. In the meantime, an SD memory card slot is required by quite a few printers. Thanks to this feature, the images can be printed directly from a card. Some printers also allow you to print from a USB flash drive and other storage media.
- ePrint and other similar programs. Using HP’s own ePrint program, print jobs can be delivered via e-mail, which is sent directly to the compatible printer. Thus, no connection between the computer and the output device (inkjet printer) must be established.
- Control via app. Leading brands such as Brother, Epson or Canon offer smartphone apps for free download. This easy-to-use software makes it easy to print jobs, and it also enables direct, mobile printing from a variety of cloud services, such as Dropbox, and popular social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Scanning can even be implemented on printers without this function, ie with monofunctional inkjet printers, via the app.
- Feed and output trays. Each inkjet printer has at least one paper feed slot and one output tray for printed paper. Some models come with extra paper trays for photo paper, and some high-end printers also have an extra tray for the scanner to make automatic multi-page scans possible. The compartments are designed for the inkjet printers for the consumer sector only for the sheet size up to A4.
- Display. Only a few inches wide display can be found on the control panel of most current models. The display makes the control intuitive. Some features like ePrint are only accessible via display.
- Number of printer cartridges. Depending on the model, the inkjet printers can be equipped with two, four or even five colour cartridges. The solution with two cartridges means that in addition to a black cartridge, a multi-coloured combination cartridge for cyan, magenta and yellow is needed. This actually practical concept has the disadvantage that if only one of the three colours of the combination ink cartridge is running low, the entire printer cartridge has to be replaced. The solution with four ink cartridges – Black, Yellow, Magenta, Cyan – is the most common variant and practical in every way. To save black ink and also print high-contrast, high-quality images, some printers use a five-colour model that uses two cartridges for black – text black and photo black.
- Automatic duplex printing. Currently, even mid-range home-use printers are equipped with an automatic duplex feature that allows two-sided printing. If this feature is not included, a sheet can still be printed on both sides: turn the sheet and return it to the paper input tray. In this case, one speaks of a manual duplex printing, which is however quite cumbersome. Automatic duplex printing helps save paper and reduces printing costs.
- Instant ink and other subscriptions for the supply of printer ink. Since the relatively high prices for original ink cartridges are a problem for many users and consumers are switching to the compatible ink cartridges, some manufacturers develop sophisticated systems to provide the customer with original ink. Hewlett-Packard’s instant ink is an example of such a subscription program, where the user gets the ink on average cheaper than buying one-on-one, and the reordering is done automatically. The monthly price depends on the monthly printed page number, whereby the low-priced printers can even come to the ink cartridges for free.
Advantages and disadvantages of an inkjet printer
Below, we discuss the positive and negative sides of ink-based printer models, with the laser printers as a comparison in mind:
- Low-priced, high-quality equipped printers already available from 50, – EUR
- High-quality text and photo printing
- Printer, scanner, copier and fax combined in one multifunction device
- Immediately ready to go, no warm-up phase
- Low airborne noise emission
- Environmentally friendly, no fine dust formation
- Usually lower printing speed than a laser printer
- When not in use, the ink dries and cleaning causes high ink consumption
- On average, less range of standard ink cartridges
Original cartridges or compatible ink cartridges?
The market carries a wide range of ink cartridges, with virtually every manufacturer relying on a different, patented model. The marketing strategy of the leading brands is to offer the printers themselves at a very advantageous price and to sell comparatively higher profits with the sale of the so-called original ink cartridges. No wonder, then, that not a few consumers dodge the so-called foreign ink, so ink cartridges from third-party, or compatible printer cartridges. There are basically three variants of cheap foreign cartridges, namely:
- Third-party ink cartridges, the actual compatible cartridges ;
- Rebuilt cartridges. In this case, the original cartridges are reprocessed and removed, cleaned and refilled with ink;
- Refill cartridges. These are also reconditioned cartridges, which are only filled with new ink from third-party suppliers.
The question of which printer cartridges – the original ink or the foreign ink – are preferable, can not be final and blanket answer. We summarize the plus and minus points of the compatible cartridges in a small comparison:
- Significant cost savings
- XL and XXL sizes often available
- In many cases comparable print quality
- Print quality can also be far below that of original ink
- Often dry out faster
- Some printers may reject the compatible and remanufactured cartridges
Buying guide – in seven steps to the desired inkjet printer
Our comparison portal on STERN.de is there to help you find products that best meet your needs and wishes. Answer the following seven questions to discover an ink-based printer that will make you completely satisfied:
- For which task area is the printer primarily used? Are you mainly going to print documents (text and image) or do you also need the scan, copy and fax functions? For home use or a small office is usually worth a multifunctional printer. For larger offices with multiple users, mostly monofunctional, high-performance printers are the better choice. For scanning, copying and faxing then specialized, professional devices are purchased.
- Do you print a lot and often? Then pay close attention to the printing speed, which is measured in pages per minute. The mid-range printers for home create about 10 – 12 pages in one minute in black and white and 4 – 7 pages per minute in colour. For occasional and occasional printers, this value is perfectly adequate. However, if your office is heavily used on the printer as part of a broad network, we recommend a much faster model that prints from 30 pages in b / w and colour upwards per minute.
- Do you attach great importance to the print quality and want to print high-quality photos yourself at home or in the office? In this case, the resolution is a parameter that you have to pay particular attention to. The print resolution, the dot density, is measured in “dots per inch” (“dots per inch”). The higher the resolution, the more detailed and realistic even zoomed images will appear. Already the usual resolution of 4,800 x 1,200 dpi promises a decent picture quality.
- Are you mainly interested in photo printing? If that is the case, then in addition to the image resolution and the quality of the ink is crucial. We would recommend opting for inkjet printers with five printer cartridges. In addition to the four conventional colour cartridges, these models can also be equipped with photo black for optimum image quality.
- Would you like it easy with photo printing? Then an inkjet printer with an SD card slot and a Wi-Fi Direct function is just right for you. This allows the images to be printed directly from the memory card of your camera or smartphone.
- Are mobility and networks a household name for you? Then your printer should be wireless-enabled. Another way to increase flexibility is to print jobs via e-mail and app.
- Do you often encounter higher print volumes? If so, then an ink-based printer with a larger paper tray is the answer. The default capacity of a paper input tray is 100 sheets. Everything under it is meant only for Wenigdrucker. For top printers, there are models with a capacity from 250 sheets upwards.