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The 5 best cheap printers

Even as things continue to go more digital, a quality printer remains a must have, but you don’t need to spend several hundreds to get a good one. The best cheap printers make it easy to print high quality documents and photos at home, and some of them even copy, scan, and fax, too. The most important part? You can spend as little as $80.

When choosing the best affordable printer, you have two options: inkjet and laser. Each one has its pros and cons:

  • Inkjet printers: Great for color and photo printing, these usually cost less upfront, but they use inkjet cartridges, which need to be replaced fairly often; this means you'll be spending a bit more money in the long run. And if you print infrequently, you'll need to run a test page every now and then to keep the ink cartridges from drying up. But these do tend to be more compact, making them a solid option if you're working with limited space.
  • Laser printers: While they cost a bit more upfront, these are perhaps the most economical printers in the long run, since they use long-lasting toner that doesn't require frequent refills. Another plus: Toner doesn’t dry up between uses. Most laser printers only print in black and white, but if you’re willing to spend more, you can get one that prints in color, too.

All of the options below can be used wireless or wired (though, for some, you'll need to provide your own USB cable). Whether you'll be printing every day or just once in a while, these are the best cheap printers on Amazon.

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1. The basic inkjet printer

Compatibility: Letter and legal sized paper, photo paper, #10 envelopes

For color printing on a budget, this all-in-one wireless inkjet printer is a great choice. The 35-page auto document feeder and easy-to-use touchscreen make the whole thing a cinch to operate, and it's versatile too: Besides printing, this device also copies, scans, and faxes. The print speed is a bit slow at 8.5 pages per minute (ppm) in black and 6 ppm in color, and there's no two-sided printing option. However, it’s easy to print wirelessly, and you can download the HP Smart App to scan from your smartphone, stock up on ink, and print from the cloud. This option also has the capability to connect to your computer for wired printing, but you'll have to supply your own USB cable.

The compact printer comes with black and tri-color ink cartridges to get you started, and if you want to save on cartridge refills, you have the option to subscribe to HP Instant Ink — a service that automatically sends you refills based on how many pages you print per month.

One reviewer says: “I wanted an affordable, reliable, compact, wireless printer with an automatic document feeder, and this not only met my expectations but exceeded them. It was easy to set up and to connect to the wifi network. It's very compact, as printers go. It stays connected to the wifi (unlike other wireless printers I've dealt with), and it automatically reconnects to the network when I lose power or turn it off and back on.”

2. The basic laser printer

Compatibility: Letter paper, legal paper, card stock, envelopes, labels, photo paper

Though it costs a little more upfront, this laser printer uses long-lasting toner that doesn't need to be replaced as often as ink cartridges, making it one of the most economical printers on the list. While it only prints in black and white, it does so at a speedy 30 pages per minute, making it a fantastic option if you need to print a lot at once. With a paper tray capacity of 250 pages, the printer boasts a two-sided printing function, which saves on time and the hassle of flipping pages over.

Unfortunately, it doesn't have a built-in copier or scanner, but you can use the HP Smart app to scan from your phone or tablet and print from the cloud. And it's wireless, so printing from anywhere in your home is a breeze, but you can also plug it in with the included USB cable if you're not using Wi-Fi. Plus, this printer comes with toner to get you started.

One reviewer says: “I love this laser printer so far. It's prints very fast, faster than I actually need to print, which is quite nice. It does everything I need it to also. I love how you can print on envelopes too."

3. The color laser printer

Compatibility: Letter paper, legal paper, card stock, envelopes

Although it's the priciest option on the list, this color laser printer uses long-lasting toner, so you won't have to spend money on refills very often. It can handle colorful graphs and charts with ease, and with a print speed of 19 ppm, this option is faster than color-printing inkjets and also has a two-sided printing option. However, reviewers report that you're still better off with an inkjet if photo printing is a priority. And here's the thing: This isn't an all-in-one printer, so you can’t use it to copy and scan, but it does work wirelessly and via USB connection (cable not included) for easy printing from any computer or device.

The paper tray holds 250 sheets, and toner is included to help you get started.

One reviewer says: “Our law office did not have a color printer, so this is a fantastic edition to our office printers. It prints quality letterhead as well as mailing labels and envelopes. It was easy to set up. Great all around printer!"

4. The one for printing photos

Compatibility: Letter paper, legal paper, photo paper, envelopes

If printing frame-worthy snapshots is your main objective, this cheap wireless printer for photos is an affordable way to do it. Printing speed is 10 ppm in black and 7 ppm in color, so this option is slightly faster than the other inkjet on this list, but slower than the laser choices. The printer is easy to set up with the HP Smart App, which also lets you scan with your smartphone and print documents from your cloud accounts. Other helpful features: an easy-to-use touchscreen, two-sided printing, and dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for stable wireless connections. However, if you prefer not to print wirelessly, you'll have to supply your own USB cable.

Black and tri-color ink cartridges are included, and you have the option to subscribe to HP Instant Ink for automatic refills.

One reviewer says: “Excellent print quality, even for photos. Easy to install the two ink [cartridges], one for color and one for black. Very quick and quiet, too.”

4. The compact one

Compatibility: Letter-sized paper, card stock, envelopes, labels

If you want a laser printer but are short on space, this might be the best compact printer for you. It prints up to 19 ppm in black and white and comes with pre-installed toner to get you started. The printer has a 150-sheet paper tray, and while it doesn't offer two-sided printing or a built-in scanner, you can still scan and copy from your smartphone or tablet with the HP Smart App. The handy app also makes it easy to print from the cloud and stock up on toner. Plus, since it comes with a USB cable, you can easily print offline, too.

One reviewer says: “I bought this one specifically because I have my printer in one of my kitchen cabinets (couldn't find a better spot for it) and this little thing fits perfectly and the Wi-fi connection is flawless. It's black and white only, of course, but the print speed is great, the toner isn't ridiculously expensive, and it's quiet and convenient.”