By now you’ve probably settled into a work from home routine. Maybe you’ve even swapped your dining room table chair for a more ergonomic desk chair or plopped a seat cushion on top to give your lower back some much-needed relief. Perhaps you’ve given your Wi-Fi an upgrade to handle all the streaming and video calls you weren’t prepared for.
If you’re still not sure when or if you’ll be able to head back into the office, it might be worth gearing up your new home office with a decent printer. That way, you won’t have to head out to your local print shop or library, which may not even be open yet, to get those docs you need to sign or send out.
Printers aren’t exactly the easiest thing to purchase, though. There’s an overwhelming number of variations, from ink to laserjet, and they aren’t exactly known for their reliability, either. Still, there are some key things to look out for when searching for the right printer for your home office. It should be able to easily connect to your network, print high-quality text, and be able to print on both sides automatically (also known as duplex printing) to save on paper.
Laser printers generally produce higher-quality text than their inkjet counterparts, though they fall behind in photo quality, so be sure to grab the one that best suits your needs. Gizmodo senior reviews editor Alex Cranz recommends laser over inkjet printers, as inkjet cartridges generally have shorter lifespans and cost more to replace.
Rather than digging through online reviews, we’ve asked some writers and editors from Gizmodo who have been working from home for a while what they recommend. Here’s what they told me.
The Best Overall: Brother Monochrome Laser Printer
Brother Monochrome Laser Printer | $190 | Amazon
If your needs don’t go much further than printing out documents for signing or for reference, a good laser printer should cover all your bases. Andrew Liszewski, a senior reporter at Gizmodo, recommends this Brother Monochrome Laser Printer, a black-and-white printer that offers duplex printing as well as scanning and copying. “It’s quite often on sale, and toner refills are relatively affordable given you get thousands of print outs from one,” Liszewski says. This printer also supports AirPrint, which lets you print directly from your iOS device, so you won’t even have to whip out your hefty work laptop to get going.
A More Affordable Runner-Up: HP OfficeJet 3830
If you’re a bit strapped for cash, there are still printers you can get that will cover all your bases without putting you into budget panic mode. Joanna Nelius, a consumer tech reporter at Gizmodo, recommends HP’s OfficeJet 3830. Like the Brother, it can print, copy, and scan, so all your work-based needs should be met without too much fuss. “It’s a bit overkill for me, as I only use it to print shipping labels,” Nelius says, “but sometimes I need to scan stuff.” Although it doesn’t cause too much trouble, Nelius also notes that it only has a 2.4GHz wireless connection, so you might have to switch bandwidths whenever you want to print.
Unfortunately, that model seems to be sold out everywhere. Luckily the next step up, the HP OfficeJet 5255, is still available. It supports all the same features as the 3830, but unlike the 3830, it supports duplex printing, so you can get going on double-sided print jobs without too much hassle. It’s significantly more expensive, and maybe you don’t NEED duplex printing right now, but it’s worth having the feature in case your needs change down the line.
The Bare Necessities: Brother HLL2350DW
Brother HLL2350DW | $120 | Amazon
If you’re certain you won’t need to do any scanning or copying, Lifehacker senior editor David Murphy recommends the Brother HLL2350DW. It only prints in black and white, but Murphy says that should be fine for most people. “It’ll probably cover 95 percent of what you need to do, unless you’re like printing photos or something,” he says. “And if so you might as well use Amazon Prints instead of having to buy a dedicated printer for it.”
It’s not a bad move; if you don’t need to print photos or anything in color, buying the extra cartridges will just unnecessarily rack up your home office costs. Spare your wallet the pain and get straight to printing.