It may sound obvious but the first question you should ask yourself is “Do I need a printer?”. Chances are that if you have children at school then yes you’ll need one to print school projects. Otherwise you might get away with relying on friends (no I’m pointing at anyone 😉).
So if you do need a printer for your home, there are other questions that you need to answer in order to select the correct one:
- How much are you going to print? If it’s only a few pages a day, then entry level printers are perfectly fine
- Do you need colour printing? Probably yes
- Do you need photo quality printer? Again, entry level printers do a good job at printing occasional photos
- Do you need double-sided printing? Very handy for booklets and saving paper
- Do you need A3 printing? Great for school projects
- How much space do you have? Some printers are very bulky
Some features should come in standard with your printer. Check that they’re included:
- Scanning and copying
- Wifi and USB connectivity
- Colour LCD display
Some other features in my view are not really necessary nowadays:
- Fax: what’s the last time you’ve needed to send a fax? In last resort you can always use an internet faxing service
- Cloud printing: I still don’t see the need to print from the internet to my printer
- Bluetooth printing: modern phones can now see the printer on Wifi and print to it without using Bluetooth
- SD-Card printing: nice to have if you have a camera using them but it’s a marginal use case
So what printer should you choose?
PC Mag Australia has written a very good guide on the best printers of 2022. This will help you make decisions.
I will just give you my choice in my personal case: we are a small family and the printer is primarily used by my son for school projects and by my wife to print recipes, only a few pages a week. I use it for printing occasional photos and scanning documents, mostly forms that I can then fill in Adobe Acrobat.
At the moment, we are using a Canon PIXMA MG5660 that does everything we need. However this model is now discontinued so if it dies I will probably replace it with a Canon PIXMA TR8660 ($299 at Officeworks) that has additional features like dual paper feeder and a 20 sheet automatic document feeder for scanning.
If you are worried about the cost of ink cartridges, you might be interested in the range of refillable ink tanks printers such as the Epson EcoTank Series or the Canon MegaTank Series. They are more expensive but they will save a ton of money if you print a lot.
A note about third party ink cartridges. Printer manufacturers will push you to use their genuine cartridges because this is where they make their money. HP even tried to block unofficial cartridges on their printers via a software update a few years back. They had to backtrack due to the furore from users. The reality is that you can use unofficial cartridges at a fraction of the price without any problem. The very cheap ones from Ebay won’t last very long though so I would recommend going a bit more expensive and pick a brand like Calidad that you can find even at Officeworks.