Top Product: Brother HL-L2350DW | $120 | Amazon
If you thought you’d be back in the office by now and that things would be back to normal, you’re certainly not alone. The ongoing pandemic has impacted our lives from top to bottom, and the seemingly temporary work-from-home setups have become semi-permanent instead. And for some people, that might mean facing the reality of buying your own printer.
If the thought elicits a heavy sigh, we get it. However, not every printer these days is some huge monolith that’ll dominate your desk and collect dust. Some great compact printers are available that smartly trim down on perks and printing speed while still providing solid capabilities with a much smaller footprint. Some can even be used on the go thanks to built-in batteries.
The HP Tango was the perfect fit for me, and the recent HP Tango X even comes with a cover to further minimize the visual impact of having a printer around. Learn about the Tango and some of today’s other stellar compact home printers below.
Best Compact Printer Value: Brother HL-L2350DW
“I’ve been burned by cheap inkjet printers a million times,” Brian Kelleher, Director of Content at Killer Guitar Rigs told me in an interview. “A friend suggested I get a laser printer and after weighing up what I actually needed—something small [that] never [prints] in color, [and] must include [a] scanner—I picked up the Brother Compact Monochrome Laser Printer.”
“It’s the best printer I’ve ever owned,” Kelleher enthusiastically shares. “I’ve had it for a year now and just swapped out the toner cartridge for the first time. It’s never once jammed, it’s never run out of ink, and the toner cartridge was cheaper than ink.”
Like many parents, Kelleher has a little one running around that he has to entertain, and this printer has been a lifesaver for him. “I’ve printed thousands of worksheets for my kids without having to explain to a 3-year-old what a paper jam is—and I haven’t had to go out and get new ink because it never runs out.”
Our friends at Gizmodo recently put several home printers in a head-to-head battle and also found that the Brother HL-L2350DW was the most cost-efficient printer of the bunch, making it a compact option that’ll also save you money over time.
“While you’ll only get 1,200 pages per cartridge in the cheapest Brother toner cartridge, they still only have an upfront cost of $43,” wrote Gizmodo’s John Biggs. “With the Brother HL-L2350DW starting at just $120 and a $43 toner cartridge netting you a mere 3 cents per page, it’s the absolute winner if you’re looking to spare your wallet.”
Best Portable Compact Printer: Epson Workforce WF-110
Mark Condon is the CEO and Founder of Shotkit. As the CEO of a photography company, he both needs a high-quality printer and a mobile one. “I would suggest the Epson WorkForce,” Candon tell me via email.
Extremely lightweight, the Epson WorkForce WF-110 is easily one of the lightest mobile printers out there. Candon goes on to tell me, “It comes with a nice built-in battery that allows users to print up to 100 pages on a single charge, which is quite good for a printer of its quality and size. It also generates some good-looking printouts for a portable printer and incorporates tons of connectivity options to guarantee users stay truly mobile when using it.”
Of course, slow printing is definitely a downside, but for Candon, this printer is really an “all-around winner,” he tells me. “It is easy to maintain and ink prices won’t cost very much, which is great for long-term use and cost-efficiency.”
Best Smartphone Compatibility: HP Tango X
When I set out looking for a compact printer, the Tango was not on my list. The HP printer I thought I wanted was discontinued, so HP sent me the Tango X printer instead. It turned out to be exactly what I needed.
I’m not someone who needs to print often. In fact, I mostly needed a printer for shipping labels, since my local UPS store charges an obscene $3 per label. So, at most, the printer is used weekly, and only briefly. Oftentimes, I’m looking to print something from my phone, not my computer. I love that the HP Tango allows me to easily email my printer, and have everything printed wirelessly. I can even voice activate the printer! Truly a smart home office device.
I wanted a printer that wouldn’t take over the little space I had on my desk. The HP Tango X worked perfectly for this; it fits on the corner of my desk, but unlike the traditional printer, it folds completely flat, serving as the platform for a vase of flowers when I’m not using it.
Best for NYC (and NYC-Sized) Apartments: Canon Pixma TR150
My editor, Gabe Carey, Head of Content and Strategy here at The Inventory, is a tech reviewer through and through. Living in Manhattan, he doesn’t have much much space for an unwieldy all-in-one inkjet printer. “Working from home, however, printing our own shipping labels is now a necessity for both of us to send and receive packages,” he tells me.
The Canon Pixma TR150 is the small printer he uses to get the job done. Measuring just 12.7 x 7.3 x 2.6” he claims it is “handily the best compact printer for our limited space and budget.”
While some people may see the limited 50-page limit a downside, not him. In fact, “anything above that is excessive.” Being a tech reviewer, Carey raves about the cord-free nature of the printer and easy setup. “An optional battery pack keeps it cord-free while a 1.44” OLED display guides you through an easy setup.”
Ultimately, this is the perfect all-around printer. “Not only is it small and lightweight but the Pixma TR150 is accessible enough I can recommend it to anyone,” Carey tells me.
If not having a printer around is causing about as much stress as the thought of having a huge, typical home printer in your space, then compromise: a compact printer can serve your basic needs without taking up much of a footprint.
Compact printers like the ones above can spit out stellar pages but may lack some of the bonus features of larger models. But they hit a sweet spot of size, capabilities, and price point. If those people found a printer that matched their respective needs, then you can too.
This story was originally published by Chaya Milchtein in October 2020 and updated by Andrew Hayward with new information on 01/14/2021.