Best Photo Printer under 200

2014 Guide: Best All in One Printers Under $200

All-in-one (AIO) printers, especially inkjet-based ones, have gotten so good and so cheap that most home users can get by with models that cost $200 or less—often, way less. You can easily find a score of models that fit this criteria without looking too hard.

So, how to choose which of these bountiful budget printers is the right one for you?

Epson WorkForce Pro WF-4630: Top small- or home-office pick

To be sure, formal reviews help. It's difficult to compare printers on their three key metrics—print quality, print speed, and cost per page—without seeing them in person and making some test prints, or at least reading comparative reviews. In the market for under-$200 printers, just about all AIO printers from major makers perform most of their jobs—printing, scanning, making copies—at least reasonably well. Few but the very, very lowest-end models (which we seldom get in hand for review) are likely to disappoint for light to moderate home use. The key thing is to identify the kinds of tasks for which you'll use your budget AIO, as well as how often you'll use it, and judge the models on the market on that basis.

Oftentimes, a limited-time sale on a given printer can tilt the value equation, as well. But it's not always the case that the cheaper printer is the better value. One of the key considerations when shopping for an AIO printer is the cost per page (CPP), which we'll get into in more detail below. Sometimes, it's worth paying a bit extra to get a printer with a lower cost per page.

The AIO market is especially rich in models under $200, but recognize what these printers are: With few exceptions, they're meant for light to moderate duty. These are not printers you cement to a network and hammer with an entire office's worth of document output, though some, notably Epson's WorkForce and HP's Officejet models below, work quite well for small workgroups.

Best AIO Printers Under 0For easier shopping, we've reduced the key considerations in today's budget AIOs to the six items outlined below. You'll want to consider each of these in turn, in concert with our deeper-dive reviews, before turning over your credit card.

LASER OR INK? This one's simple. Most under-0 AIO printers will be inkjet-based, though the occasional monochrome laser may limbo in under the price bar. In short, a mono laser is only an option if all you mean to print is text documents and draft versions of documents containing graphics. Otherwise, an inkjet model will be your default choice here, and your only choice if you need good photographic output.

COST PER PAGE. Check out formal reviews like ours for the lowdown on this crucial specification. It may seem counterintuitive, but the cost per page tends to decrease as printers in a given family get more expensive (often thanks to larger ink tanks or toner cartridges), though that's by no means an absolute rule.

For a printer used only occasionally, the cost per page is less of a concern, but the more you print, the more it matters—those extra pennies per page add up fast. Use our reviews to help you figure out the cost-per-page math. We weigh this factor heavily in our reviews. Also, realize that the kind of output that you make affects the per-page cost. Most manufacturers calculate cost per page based on text documents with an average portion of the page covered by ink or toner. Your per-page cost may vary if you print pages with page coverage that averages much more or less. (Printed photos, for example, consume much more ink than a text report.)

HP Photosmart 7520PRINT SPEED. Like cost per page, how important this factor should be in your buying decision depends on how often you use your AIO printer, and with what kind of output. Printing reams of raw text in draft mode is a very different kind of workload than printing full-page photos at top-quality mode. (Our test numbers examine both text and photo printing.) Like with cost per page, if you print only once in a while, the speed will matter less than if you're relying on the printer for constant output. In the latter case, you'll want to examine the test results carefully in our formal reviews, in light of the kind of documents you'll print.

CONNECTIVITY. You can connect any of these printers to a single computer via a USB cable (which may or may not be included). It's the other connection options that may vary. If you intend to hardwire your AIO printer into a home or small-office network, you'll want to look for an Ethernet port, which is not always a given. For wireless connectivity, Wi-Fi is quite common among consumer/small-business printers like these, though not 100 percent standard. The specific 802.11 Wi-Fi standard supported when you're dealing with printers—802.11n, 802.11ac, and so on—is less important than the presence of Wi-Fi in the first place.

Also look for support for Wi-Fi Direct (the ability to connect a device wirelessly straight to the printer without accessing an intervening network), as well as support for other mobile-printing standards, such as AirPrint (for Apple devices). In the very latest models, support for Mopria, a cross-vendor technology that eases printing from mobile devices, is a standard that's worth looking for, but it has only just started to emerge. (We wouldn't hold it against a printer to not support it—yet.)

WORKABLE CONTROLS. If you'll do lots of what printer makers call "walk-up" printing or copying, which means using the printer by itself, without a PC intervening, you'll want to pay extra attention to the front control panel. Some makers incorporate big, colorful touch screens to ease you through performing actions right at the printer (such as making copies or printing photos straight from memory cards), whereas others feel a bit stuck in the 20th century, with dense clusters of pushbuttons. If this matters to you, examine before you buy.

The best-rated recent budget AIOs we've tested are outlined below. Interestingly, most are inkjets, and many are geared toward offices, rather than consumer models. That's because cost per page tends to be lower in business-oriented machines, since they tends to be designed for higher-volume printing. But most will work equally well in a home or home-office environment.

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FAQ

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What is the best printer under $200.

The Canon MX922 is the best printer that you can purchase for under $200.

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