Printers buying guide

Our lives are increasingly paper-free, but sometimes there’s no substitute for a print-out. Whether you want to print from your laptop at the office or from your smartphone at home, there’s a printer for you

Printer types

There are two main printing technologies: inkjet and laser. Generally, inkjet printers are ideal for home offices, small offices and personal use, while laser printers are more suited to medium-sized and larger offices. As well as an inkjet printer, you can opt for an all-in-one or photo printer that uses the inkjet method of printing.

 

Inkjet printers work by shooting jets of ink at the page, and are generally better for colour printing.

This type of printer is ideal for lower volume printing in offices, and for personal use at home.

Features you'll like:

  • Prices start low so you can find the right machine for your printer usage
  • Huge variety with different jet technologies and ink types means you can find one to suit you
  • Highest photo quality when used with photo paper
  • Often better quality when in colour

 

Things to consider:

  • Ink can smudge when freshly printed
  • Higher cost per page than laser
  • Slower to print
Shop Inkjet printers

Photo printers

Prints high-quality photos at home. Reads from memory card or connects to digital camera. Uses plain, coated or photo paper
up to A3

Laser printers work using static electricity, which attracts and holds toner to the page.

This type of printer is ideal for high-volume printing in offices where there's a lot of paper work.

Features you'll like:

  • Highest text quality, fast print speeds, cheaper consumables
  • Faster, smudge-free printing of a very high quality, especially when printing text
  • Faster printing in high quantities
  • Can print double-sided
  • More resilient printing

 

Things to consider:

  • More expensive – particularly if you want to print in colour
  • Colour quality isn’t as good as on inkjet printers
  • Lower photo print quality

All-in-one printers

A complete home solution for inkjet printing, scanning, faxing and photocopying, while saving space. Some can print directly from the internet. Uses plain, coated or photo paper up to A3

How to choose your printer

 

Determine your needs with our guidance below, and choose the right printer for your requirements

 

Printing at home – documents, tickets, photos
At-home printing, from plane boarding passes and the
occasional photo

Your printer types:

Larger business use
Your larger business requires fast printing for many people

Your printer types:

Printing photos
You're looking for a printer that can print high-quality colour photos

Your printer types:

Small business use
You have a small to medium size business, and need
to be able to print documents with relative speed, plus
scanning and photocopying

Your printer types:

Specialist printing
You need a printer for larger or ultra-portable printing

Your printer type:

Printing directly from devices
You're looking for a printer that makes it easy to print straight from your laptop, smartphone, tablet, camera or even a memory card. Some printers can even be put into your pocket and used on the go

Your printer type:

 

Did you know... Most models let you print via WiFi/NFS or from your phone or tablet.
Decode more features in our jargon buster below

Ink and paper for your printer

 

Pick up the right accessories for your requirements, particularly if you plan on printing photos or in colour

 

Ink

Ink cartridges are designed especially for inkjet printers – if you have a laser printer, you'll need toner instead.

We have a wide variety of ink cartridges: choose your printer brand below to see the ink available. If we sell your printer, see the product page for more information on which cartridge you'll need.

Toner

Toner is a powder ink made especially for laser printers – if you have an inkjet printer, you'll need ink cartridges instead.

Choose your printer brand below to see the toner available. If we sell your printer, see the product page for more information on which toner you'll need.

Paper

Choose from different types of paper to suit what you're printing. See our full selection of paper here.

  • Photo paper: high quality paper that's glossy on one side – ideal for photos
  • Normal paper: plain paper for everyday use
  • A3 paper: larger sheets – only for use with printers that can take A3 paper
 

Did you know... PPM means pages per minute: a higher number means a faster printer. Decode more features in our jargon buster

Jargon buster

 

WiFi / Wireless printing
This means the printer can be connected to wireless internet, so you can print from laptops, phones and other devices without having to plug in using a wire

NFC connectivity
Devices with NFC can be tapped together to create a wireless connection, for sending or streaming files and other data

PPM (Pages per minute)
A number referring to how many pages of black text a printer can output in a minute – so "6 PPM" means that printer prints 6 black text pages in one minute

IPM (Images per minute)
A number referring to how many pages of images a printer can output in a minute – so "6 IPM" means that printer prints 6 image pages in one minute

DPI (Dots per inch)
A number referring to the physical dots on the printed page: a higher number means more dots per inch on the page, which in turn means better quality. However, if you're scanning in, the PPI (pixels per inch) will also make a difference to the final printed result. See also: Printing resolution

Scanning resolution
See also: PPI

Direct printing
A feature that lets your printer connect to a compatible digital camera, without the need for a computer

Mobile printing / Mobile printing services
Print wirelessly from compatible smartphones, tablets and other internet-connected devices

Memory card slot
A memory card slot allows you to transfer phots and files directly from a memory card

Double-sided printing
Double-sided printers can print on both sides of a sheet of paper. See also: Duplex printing

Duplex printing
Duplex printers can print on both sides of a sheet of paper. See also: Double-sided printing

A3 printing
A printer designed to handle paper sizes up to A3 – ideal for larger printing

Instant Ink compatible
An HP-specific service, in which the company will send you HP Instant Ink replacement cartridges and pre-paid recycling envelopes before you run out of ink

All-in-one printer
A model that prints, as well as scanning, faxing and photocopying

Automatic document feeder
Set a scanner or copier to automatically feed multiple pages of a document in for processing, one page at a time

Paper format
The types of paper or other media that this printer can print on

Ports
Ports used to conntect other devices, for example a USB port to connect laptops or other devices, or HDMI ports to connect to a high-definition screen

Printing resolution
The higher the dots per inch (DPI), the greater the definition of the image. See also: DPI

PPI (Pixel per inch)
See also: Scanning resolution

Printing speed
How many pages or how fast a single photo can be produced per minute. Measured as Pages per minute (PPM) and Images per minute (IPM) See also: PPM and IPM