Find the perfect printer for occasional use and print only when you want to, without worrying about dried out printer cartridges.
It’s no secret that many are printing less these days. Now that everything is just a couple taps away on our smartphones, the need for an everyday printer is rare for most home offices. Printers can be nice to have for printing out one-off documents for work or your kid’s latest homework assignment, but in between prints, they can easily sit untouched for weeks!
For inkjet printer owners, a dormant printer can quickly be a problem if you forgo printing for even a short period of time. Printer cartridges can dry out, the printhead can clog, and inevitably, you have to invest in a new set of pricey replacement cartridges. Low cost compatible printer cartridges can alleviate some of that cost (more on that later), but if you want to get the best long-term print value, you need to find a machine that can weather that printer down time.
In this quick guide, we break down our four favorite printers for consumers that print occasionally. Whether you just need black and white prints or full color photos, all of these machines can be used infrequently and still produce a quality print when needed. If you are looking for a printer that won’t dry out, we cover it here!
To skip ahead to the printers, click the jump links below. Or keep reading to learn more about what type of printer you should buy and the best way to save on printing costs.
- Best Basic Monochrome Laser Printer: Brother HL-L2350DW
- Best Multi-function Monochrome Laser Printer: Brother MFC-L2750DW
- Best Color Laser Printer: HP Laserjet Pro M254dw
- Best Ink Tank Printer: Canon PIXMA G3260 MegaTank
What Type of Printer Should I Buy?
Two types of printers are preferred for occasional use: laser printers and ink tank printers. Which one you choose all depends on the sort of printing you do.
Laser printers have long been a popular option for busy offices and are capable of handling large print volumes and text-based documents. These machines use toner powder to produce a print. A dry, plastic material that won’t dry out like an ink cartridge, toner powder can sit idle in the machine for an extended period of time. If you don’t need to print high-resolution photos, a good laser printer is the way go.
Ink tank printers, also known as reservoir printers, are a relatively new addition to the printer industry. Instead of printer cartridges, these machines rely on an ink tank system and ink bottles to produce a print. Ink is delivered from an ink bottle to the printer through an airtight tube, preserving the ink in a sealed tank until it’s ready to be used. Ink tank printers are incredibly cost effective, printing thousands of pages for pennies on the dollar and can print anything a regular inkjet printer can, including high quality photographs. Most are more expensive than the standard inkjet machine, but thousands of prints per ink bottle and low operating costs make them worth considering. Epson was the first major printer manufacturer to offer an ink tank printer option with the Epson EcoTank series but other major manufacturers quickly followed suit. The Brother Inkvestment line, Canon MegaTank line and HP SmartTank line are all popular ink tank printer series that have been introduced in recent years.
We answer all of the most common questions and include a list of our favorites in our best ink tank printer buying guide but our top printer for this article is the Canon PIXMA MegaTank G3260 we feature below.
How to Save On Printing Costs
Even if you don’t print a lot, replacing printer cartridges can get expensive. One great way to save is with LD brand compatible ink and toner cartridges. With cartridges available for thousands of printer models, including all of the printers mentioned in this article, you can get comparable print quality and page yield to the original brand at a fraction of the price. Check out the savings for each of our featured printers below!
Best Basic Monochrome Laser Printer
Brother HL-L2350DW – Buy on Amazon*
The Brother HL-L2350DW’s high yield printer cartridges and compact size make it an ideal candidate for consumers working with a limited a budget and a tight workspace. For an affordable price, you’ll get fast print speeds, easy to use wireless printing options and a handy automatic duplexer for efficient dual-sided printing.
Monochrome laser printers only print in black, so if you are looking to add some color to your prints, skip down to our color printer recommendations further down the page.
The printer works with two different cartridges sizes, the TN-730 standard yield and the high yield TN-760. High yield toner cartridges are better option if you print regularly but occasional users are probably fine going with the standard cartridge. An original TN-730 toner cartridge from Staples prints 1,200 pages and sells for $41.99. The high yield option prints 3,000 pages and sells for $74.99.
You can save up to 52% when you purchase the LD compatible version of the TN-760 cartridge, available for $34.99. LD compatibles offer the same number of high quality pages as the original and are a much cheaper way to print. The LD-brand drum unit is $31.99.
Best Multi-function Monochrome Laser Printer
Brother MFC-L2750DW – Buy on Amazon
Printer users desiring a bit more versatility will want to look at the MFC-L2750DW, a multifunction machine with convenient print, scan and fax capabilities. Featuring print speeds of up to 36 ppm and a 50-sheet automatic document feeder for scanning multi-page documents, your office will stay productive, no matter how seldomly you might print. Wireless printing options let you easily print from your smart phone, tablet or laptop.
Just like the previously mentioned HL-L2350DW, two cartridges are available for this machine; an original TN-730 standard yield cartridge prints 1,200 pages and sells for $65.49 and the TN-760 prints 3,000 pages and sells for $106.99. LD brand compatible TN-760 cartridges are available for just $34.99. A replacement DR-730 drum is $31.99
Best Color Laser Printer
HP Laserjet Pro M254dw – Buy on Amazon
With print speeds of up to 17 ppm, HP’s LaserJet Pro M254dw is a speedy laser printer that is perfect for small offices with basic color printing needs. Offering reliable, sharp text and vibrant color prints at a great value, this is a solid choice for consumers that need to print the occasional color document. Mobile printing technology connects seamlessly to you smartphone and a duplexer lets you print on both sides of the page. Unfortunately, the duplexer isn’t automatic, but that shouldn’t be a deal breaker for users with lighter printing jobs.
The printer works with four color HP cartridges that are available in a standard (HP 202A) and high yield (HP 202X) cartridge size. Original replacement cartridges can get pricey, ranging from $64.99-$102.99, depending on the cartridge type. Alternatively, high yield LD compatible cartridges are great deal at $46.99 each!
Best Ink Tank Printer
Canon PIXMA MegaTank G3260 – Buy on Amazon
Ink tank printers have slowly grown in popularity over the last couple of years, with the Epson EcoTank, Canon MegaTank, Brother Inkvestment Tank and HP Smart Tank all competing for your printing dollars. The Canon PIXMA G3260 MegaTank is our number one pick because it offers the most bang for your buck at a price lower than most ink tank printers. You get all of the multifunction features you need, plus wireless printing functionality that lets you easily print from a smartphone or tablet.
Thanks to the printer’s high volume GI-21 ink bottles, you’ll be able to print thousands of pages at an incredibly low cost per page, with the black bottle printing up to 6,000 pages and each color bottle printing 7,000 pages. On top of that, Canon includes two additional black ink bottles with a new machine, offering a total yield of up to 18,000 pages. That is a lot of ink.
Since this is a new printer, LD-brand compatible versions of the GI-21 ink bottles are not available quite yet but we will keep this article updated! In the meantime, you can check out thousands of other great cartridges and office supplies on LDProducts.com.
*Savings based on price comparison between remanufactured/compatible cartridge prices on www.LDProducts.com and OEM cartridge and printer prices from the listed retailers: Amazon and Staples. All products are reviewed independently. As an Amazon associate, LD Products earns from qualifying purchases through links on this page. All prices effective as of July 12, 2023. OEM names are registered trademarks of their respective owners and are not affiliated with, and do not endorse LD Products.