Best Small Printers of 2021

When desk space is tight, these models from Brother, Canon, and HP can help

An illustration of a small printer.

With space at a premium as so many of us work from home these days, a printer can take up more room than we care to spare. If you know where to look, though, it’s possible to find a compact model that performs well without monopolizing your real estate.

One option is to choose a portable printer. Designed for on-the-go use, they can run on battery power and they’re small enough to stash in a drawer.

But many 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.

Most portable printers are also expensive to buy and operate, with per-page ink and maintenance costs sometimes running two to three times higher than other inkjets, according 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 really needs the printer to be portable or needs to stow it away in a very small space, such as a mobile home, I would consider one of the smaller conventional all-in-one models, such as the Canon Pixma MG3620,” Sulin says.

We’ve picked out four of the best small printers in our ratings, including the only portable model we currently recommend and two laser printer models—notable because it’s less easy to pare that tech down. All the options have been scored by our testers on almost 250 data points. To make sure the model you buy is no different from the one we test, we purchase every product that enters our labs from a retailer—just like you would.

No matter which printer you choose, keep in mind that manufacturers often cut down on size by shrinking the capacity of the feed trays. Many small printers can handle only about 10 to 50 pages at a time.

The measurements we list for each printer are taken when it’s ready for operation, with paper trays in place.