Printers buying guide

With so many complicated product specs, and so much computer-jargon, deciding which multifunctional printer will be the best addition to your home or office can be easier said than done. Do you need your multifunctional printer to have Wi-Fi capability? What does inkjet mean? And what about duplex printing? Well, whether you’re after a top-end high-capability multifunctional machine, or an easy-to-use basic model, our buying guide will help you find which type is right for you.


Multifunctional printers can boast a range of snazzy features, but there’s no sense in splashing out on a flashy model if you only require the basic ones. By and large, most models are able to print, copy, and scan. This should be sufficient for casual home use.

If you’re a photographer looking for a printer capable of reproducing, copying, and scanning photographs from a range of sources, you’ll want to invest in a photo-lab multifunctional device. These models allow you to print from USB, micro SD cards, and even photographic film.

If you’re looking for a new product for office use, there are other features you should consider. Beyond copy and scan capabilities, you might want your printer to send emails, too. The email feature can come in two forms: it either sends an email of your scanned image direct to your internet service provider, or allows you to quickly and manually add the scanned image as an attachment to an email.

Although it’s becoming less common, some offices still use faxing to speedily send and receive hardcopy documents. If this applies to your office, you’ll want a multifunctional printer with a fax feature. Again, there are two types of fax feature: stand-alone, where the machine also doubles as an independent fax machine, and PC fax, which allows you to fax documents through your printer direct from your PC. The latter is more efficient, as it means that you don’t need to print the document first.

A final feature you’ll need to consider for the office is ADF (automatic document feeder). While most multifunctional models provide a flat surface upon which you scan or copy your document, ADFs allow you to scan, copy, and fax multipage documents in one go, without requiring you to replace each page by hand. Some ADF features even offer duplex feeding, which lets you scan, copy, and fax double-sided documents too.

Both Brother and HP, with their long list of fax, email, and ADF-capable printers, are brilliant brands to investigate if you’re after a reliable office printer.

What about print types?

Multifunctional printers have a range of print types and qualities. If you want a home printer capable of producing pristine colour images you should look for an inkjet multifunctional printer, which sprays coloured ink onto the page, producing vibrant prints. Canon, with their wide range, are a great brand to consider.

If you only intend to use your product for black and white documents, look for laser, LED, or solid-ink black and white printers. Laser creates top-end printing definition, while solid-ink provides basic definition.

Anything else?

You should also check whether or not your chosen device has WiFi connectivity. Models with WiFi allow you to print directly from your computer without the use of a USB cable. This means that multiple people can make use of the printer from different computers in quick succession. It also means that you don’t have to always be tethered to your printer, which is perfect if you’re working from a laptop and want the freedom to move around your home or office.

You should also consider whether you’ll require A3 printing and scanning as well as the standard A4 format. There are plenty of brands, such as Epson and Hewlett Packard, that offer multifunctional printers capable of handling both paper sizes. Duel-size models tend to be a little more expensive than smaller single-size models.

How much should I spend?

These printers have an enormous price range, starting at around £50 and skyrocketing up to a couple of thousand pounds.

But if you’re after a basic multifunctional printer that provides standard copy, scan and print features, then you should look to spend around £100. This price-bracket will get you a model capable of printing colour, with USB and WiFi connectivity. Epson, Canon, and HP provide several standard and reliable models in this range.

For office printers that also come with fax and email features, as well as highly detailed printing, you should look to spend from £200 - £300. You can also find some ADF printers in this range, capable of handling around 30-page documents.

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