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Guide to the Best Printers, Scanners, and Photo Scanners

Guide to the Best Printers, Scanners, and Photo Scanners

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Updated on January 4, 2012. Not sure where to start with your search for a printer, scanner, or photo scanner? Here are some top picks for the Best Printers, Scanners, and Photo Scanners I've tried. You'll find a great variety at good prices. But the choices change often, so come back and check often!

1. Best Overall All-in-One Printer: Epson Artisan 810 All-in-One Color Printer

Photo copyright Epson

The Epson Artisan 810 is at the high end of all-in-one line; but for the price (about $289), it delivers a great value. It prints very quickly and photos in particular come out with startling quality and richness. It's got all the handy bells and whistles you could hope for, from built-in wireless (very easily configured) to automatic duplexing. And the printer's enormous (7.8-inch) and tiltable touchscreen makes it a snap to use. It may be on the expensive side, but I still think this printer is a best buy.

2. Best Wireless Printer: HP Officejet J4680 All-in-One Color Printer

HP OfficeJet J4680 All-in-One Wireless Printer
Photo copyright HP

The HP Officejet J4680 is a decent, and very small, wireless printer. Set up for wireless networking was a breeze, and after testing a number of very large printers, I appreciated the relatively small footprint of the J4680. It lacks a versatile LCD screen and with only two print cartridges it may not be first choice for heavy-duty or serious photo printing, but otherwise a handy, useful, and compact wireless printer.

3. Best Budget Color Laser / LED Printer: Brother HL-3070CW Color LED Printer

Photo Courtesy Brother

Brother's HL-3070CW is a very good deal--for about $250 it can compete easily with color laser printers. (An LED printer uses LEDs rather than a single laser as a light source.) I found it fast, relatively easy to set up (though wireless could've been a tad simpler), and the output (color and black) excellent. Replacement toner isn't cheap (around $70 per cartridge), but the black cartridges are estimated for 2,200 pages and the color ones for about 1,400 pages, so they should last a long time.

4. Best Portable Photo Printer: Canon Selphy CP790

Photo copyright Canon

Canon photo printers are typically excellent, and the Selphy CP790--the high end of the Selphy line--is no exception. It's also at the high end in terms of price for a photo printer, and worth it. That's not just because the printed photo quality is excellent, or that it's very easy to set up and use, but also because it's the coolest-looking and, perhaps with the exception of the Polaroid PoGo, the most fun, photo printer I've tried.

5. Best Small-Office Printer: Epson WorkForce Pro WP-4540

Epson WorkForce Pro WP-4540 All-in-One Inkjet Printer
Photo courtesy Epson
The Epson WorkForce Pro WP-4540 offers immense paper capacity--nearly 600 sheets can fit in its paper trays at once. Another great value for frequent printers is the oversize inkjet cartridges that promise 2,400 black and 1,200 color pages (and which are reasonably priced). Pages take about seven seconds per page at normal quality, which is very good; and the printer is under $300. All good reasons for it to make the Best Buy list.

6. Best Budget All-in-One: Brother MFC-255CW All-in-One Color Printer

Photo copyright Brother

Brother's MFC-255CW is a very good color inkjet printer that gives a great value at under $100. Like some other Brother all-in-ones I've tried, it has slow print speeds across a wireless network, but it scores high points for print quality--especially photos, which come out looking fantastic. If speed is of the essence to you, I'd suggest connecting via USB cable--then you'll get speed, good looks, and a happy bank account.

7. Best Budget Monochrome Laser Printer: Brother HL-2270DW

Brother HL-2270DW All-in-One Printer
Photo © Brother

The Brother HL-2270 laser printer offers a lot of the conveniences of heavier-duty Brother laser printers such as the Brother HL-5370DW, such as wireless networking and built-in duplexing--and it's about a hundred dollars cheaper. Where the 5370DW has a few extra perks such as a 50-sheet bypass tray (where the 2270DW has only a single-sheet bypass tray), the cheaper printer easily competes with its more expensive cousin and is highly recommended. 

8. Best Photo Scanner: Epson v500

Epson V500 Photo Scanner
Photo courtesy Epson

This Epson photo scanner works well and makes digitizing photos easy, thanks to the built-in and bundled software. It has a big footprint, but if you have a lot of photos, slides, and negatives to digitize, and space is not an issue, this is a good value for the money, especially since it comes with Adobe Photoshop Elements, which is very good graphic-editing software.

9. Best Portable Scanner: Canon imageFORMULA P-215 Scanner

Canon imageFORMULA P-215 Personal Document Scanner
Photo courtesy Canon
If you need a portable scanner for on-the-road work, you've got a lot of good choices. If I had to choose one (and I do), I'd pick the Canon Scan-tini, which offers a fold-out automatic document feeder (ADF) that can guide as many as 20 pages through the scanner without a single skewed page. It's a bit minimalistic in its other offerings, and it's certainly larger than some of its competitors, but the convenience factor of the ADF was a winner for me. If size and weight are really an issue for you, I'd recommend the Doxie Go or the Brother DSMobile 700D instead.

10. Best All-Around Scanner: Fujitsu ScanSnap S510 Scanner

Photo courtesy Fujitsu

I was extremely impressed with the Fujitsu SnapScan S510. Not only is it small enough to keep on my desk, it worked great and really helped me turn volumes of paperwork into digital files. It's expensive, but it's worth every penny. Want to get organized and clean out that file cabinet? Try the ScanSnap. It will help you to be more organized than you ever thought possible. Want a budget version? Try the ScanSnap S300 which is cheaper and smaller (and can run via USB), but isn't quite as good.

11. Best Label Maker: Brother PT-1280 Label Maker

Photo courtesy Brother
The P-touch PT-1280 is a seriously useful piece of office automation that's compact, versatile, and does way more than it should. You'll want to invest extra in the AC cord if you plan on using it a lot, but otherwise this is an excellent little gadget.

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