Top Product: Brother HL-L2350DW | $170 | Amazon
Working from home, whether by choice or not, is becoming increasingly common. It cuts out your commute, you don’t have to worry about being caught by your boss on the way to the toilet, and you can even work in your pyjamas, if you want to. However, it also means that a lot of people are suddenly lacking the same equipment they’d have in an office. One of the most notable changes is that a lot of people no longer have access to a printer, but that doesn’t have to be the case.
Whether you’re looking for something that can print off a bunch of legal papers, or you’re just looking for a way to get some of your favorite photos out from the digital realm into the real one, there are plenty of printers out there that can do the job. Better yet, thanks to the constant improvement of technology, you don’t have to dedicate an entire room to these printers.
In fact, there are some printers that are so small you could feasibly fit them in your pocket, or at least a large coat pocket. So, no matter what you’re looking for, the chances are that you’ll be able to find something that’s smaller than you’d expect, and possibly more affordable too, right here.
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 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. It’s been harder to find recently and is running more expensive, too, but should still prove to be a good value over the long haul.
Best Portable Compact Printer: Epson Workforce WF-110
As the founder and CEO of photography company Shotkit, Mark Condon needed a printer that was both high-quality and mobile. “I would suggest the Epson Workforce,” he tells me via email.
Lightweight and mobile, the Epson Workforce WF-110 is one of the lightest printers out there. “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,” Condon elaborates. “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.”
Slower printing is one downside, but Condon still calls this Epson an “all-around winner,” he adds. “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: Fujifilm Instax Mini Link
While the HP Tango X used to be the cream of the crop here, it’s becoming increasingly hard to get hold of one as it was discontinued. Because of that, rather than looking at office use, we’re going to lean into a printer that’s better suited to filling your home with photos you’ve taken yourself, or the ones your kid’s been snapping as they get more into photography.
The Fujifilm Instax Mini Link is a smartphone printer that’s been designed to help you indulge your inner photographer. It’s incredibly small, can be used with the app you can download for free, and can even be used to add frames to images if you want to.
This isn’t something that’s going to be able to get the report your boss needs to them any quicker, but it is nice to be able to print a picture of your cat or kids to send to other people as presents. Plus, this bundle comes with paper already included, which means you can get started straight away.
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.
Printers have changed a lot in recent years, and not having a huge amount of space for one is no longer the downside it used to be. You can pick up one of several interesting and genuinely useful printers now, no matter what you want it for, and it won’t take up too much space.
While compact printers may not have the same features as something that’s larger, they still get the job done, and having that extra space is often worth the trade-off.
This story was originally published by Chaya Milchtein in October 2020 and updated by Jason Coles with new information on 01/18/2022.