Best choices from our tests

Last reviewed: December 2010

No printer combines all-around excellence with rock-bottom printing costs, our latest tests found. But a pair of all-in-ones, the Dell V715w and the Lexmark Prospect Pro205, offer speed, economy, and very good printing at very good prices. Like any all-in-one, each saves space and money compared with a separate printer, scanner, and copier. We also found some fine choices in regular printers. Here are more details:

Decent print quality is universal

Every inkjet printed photos that we rated at least Good; most produced very good ones. And most produced text that was at least good. In choosing between printers, then, use lower cost and speedy operation to distinguish the best performers.

Excellence has its price

Quite a few all-in-one inkjets excelled in one task or another. Seventeen printed excellent photos, six printed excellent text, and seven cranked out a page of text for 3 cents or less. But many were either slow or costly to use. For example, the Brother MFC-255CW produced excellent photos. But it printed those photos relatively slowly, and it was expensive for printing text. If excellent photos are important, you might consider that printer. But most people should consider the recommended models, which better balance quality, speed, and convenience.

Connectivity is common

Most of the all-in-ones can be connected to a home network, either wirelessly or via Ethernet cable, so that you can print from any computer in the home. Models without such networking were usually priced lower. A wireless Blue­tooth connection lets you print photos wirelessly from some cell phones and cameras. Four all-in-ones have Bluetooth built in: the recommended HP Photosmart Premium C309g, as well as the HP Photosmart Premium Touchsmart Web C309n, the HP Photosmart Premium Fax C309a, and the Brother MFC-6890CDW.

Print from your phone

The Canon Pixma MG5220, $139, is one of several new networkable printers that can print text or photos from an iPhone, iPad, or Android-based phone using an app from Apple’s App Store or the Android Market. (We’ll have more on those printers in a future report.)