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Best Small Printers to Buy Right Now

If space is tight, consider these modest-sized options

For apartment dwellers and space-strapped homeowners, a big printer can be a hulking eyesore. But you don’t have to resign yourself to sharing limited real estate with such a behemoth. You can opt instead for one of the more compact printers available today—as long as you can live with a few compromises.

Up to a third of the size of some inkjets, compact printers often perform just as well as other models. In fact, three modest-sized inkjet options sit among the top five in our regular printer ratings.

You can also outfit your home office with what’s known as a portable printer. Those are designed for on-the-go use and can run on battery power. You can easily stash one in a drawer and retrieve it as needed.

But portable models frequently lack convenient features such as an LCD screen, a memory card reader, and support for PictBridge software, which allows you to print photos directly from a camera without the use of a computer.

They’re also expensive to buy ($200 and up) and operate, with per-page ink and maintenance costs sometimes running two to three times higher than other inkjets, says Rich Sulin, who leads CR’s printer testing program. The cartridges tend to be smaller, too, so they hold less ink—which means more trips to the store.

“Unless someone needs the printer to be portable or needs to stow it away in a really small space, such as a mobile home,” Sulin says, “I would consider one of the smaller conventional all-in-one models, such as the Canon Pixma MG3620.”

What about laser printers? While they're known for producing excellent text quality, they tend to be significantly larger in size than inkjet models. However, there are a few new exceptions to that convention. The HP Laserjet Pro M2W, for instance, occupies nearly half the space of the average laser model, making it comparable in size to an all-in-one inkjet.

One last thing to keep in mind: Smaller printers tend to have smaller feed trays, which means they can handle only about 10 to 50 pages at a time.

To help you choose the right option for your home, here are six of the best small printers—two compact, two portable, and two laser—that we've rated, all graded by our testers on nearly 250 data points. To make sure the one you buy is no different from the one we test, we purchase every model that enters our labs from a retailer—just like you would.

Please note that the measurements reflect the size of the printer when it’s open and ready for operation with paper trays in place.

Each of these models prints good-quality text quickly and connects to a laptop or smartphone over WiFi, which comes in handy when you don’t feel like messing with cords just to print a map or a concert ticket.

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