“a consumer reports for the cheap” — the new york times
In this review:
  1. Best Cheap Multifunction Printer Recommendations
  2. Multifunction Printers' Reviews
  3. All-In-One Printer Features: Wireless, Speed, and Ink
  4. Flatbed Vs. Sheet-fed All-In-One Printers, Print Resolution, and Size
  5. Finding Deals on Multifunction Printers
  6. Discount Multifunction Printers Features Comparison Table

Cheap Multifunction Printers Buying Guide

You can find good cheap multifunction printers with starting prices under $100. These machines can copy, scan, and in some cases fax, as well as print, without costing much more than a stand-alone printer.

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All the models in this price range are inkjets, not lasers, and are compact enough to sit on a desk or small table. The relatively trim size of these budget all-in-one printers is another reason they appeal to home users and businesses with modest print needs.

Our research identified several cheap multifunction printers that meet users' expectations for value and performance. Top picks include the Epson Stylus NX430 (starting at $55) because of its simplicity and the overall quality of print output, and the Brother MFC-J430w (starting at $60) because of its rich feature set (including built-in fax and auto document feeder), ease of use, and proficient text printing. We found another inexpensive printer in the Canon Pixma MG5320 (starting at $100), with its large paper input capacity, rich color photo prints, and fast and high-quality text printing. The HP PhotoSmart 5510 e-All-in-One (starting at $80) wins a spot for its speed and colorful photo prints and sharp text output. It's also easy to set up and use, with a touch-screen interface. We also found two budget multifunction printers that don't rise to the occasion: the HP Deskjet 3050A (starting at $70) delivers subpar print quality, according to reviewers, and the Kodak ESP C310 (starting at $76) suffers from frequent paper jams and an insatiable thirst for ink, say many users.

A compelling as our picks may be, even the best cheap multifunction printers are not perfect in every dimension. At budget prices you have to accept some weaknesses in performance, in part because of the inkjet technology. Lower-priced all-in-one printers are generally slower than pricier models, especially when printing photos, and color document printing doesn't reach professional-quality levels. Higher-end multifunction printers generally boast higher black-print resolution, more built-in memory, and much larger paper capacity. Bearing brand names like Ricoh, Xerox, and Samsung, these upscale machines are designed for business use and deliver far more in the way of features and performance than a family, student, or home office user would need. At the thrifty end of the market, printer heavyweights such as Brother, Canon, HP, Epson, and Kodak hold dominant positions.

Review continues below

When shopping for the best cheap multifunction printer, assess your needs before making your selection. Some machines excel at printing text while others handle photos especially well. Most users won't need a built-in fax or automatic document feeder, but you can find an all-in-one with those options at competitive prices. Finally, any printer you buy should have wireless capabilities so you can connect it to every PC in your home.

by Michael Sweet (Google+ Profile)

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Best Cheap Multifunction Printers

Epson Stylus NX430
Gold Medal

Epson Stylus NX430

The Epson Stylus NX430 falters a bit on speed but shines in the realm of text, color graphics, and photo printouts. Reviews say this budget all-in-one is well suited for home use.

Read Full Review and Compare Prices »
Brother MFC-J430W
Gold Medal

Brother MFC-J430W

Brother's MFC-J430W delivers relatively speedy performance and handles text particularly well, but its color graphics can be a little dull. This is a rare cheap multifunction printer with built-in fax and auto document feeder.

Read Full Review and Compare Prices »

Good All In One Printers

Canon Pixma MG5320
Gold Medal

Canon Pixma MG5320

Canon's Pixma MG5320 is particularly adept at photo printing, but for the speed of the printouts; text output emerges far faster. Reviews say graphics may not look so vibrant.

Read Full Review and Compare Prices »
HP PhotoSmart 5510
Gold Medal

HP PhotoSmart 5510

A few users report paper jams with the PhotoSmart 5510, but most like this budget multifunction printer for its rich and colorful photos and sharp printed text; color graphics occasionally suffer from banding.

Read Full Review and Compare Prices »
 

Don't Bother

HP Deskjet 3050A

Reviewers are not impressed with the HP Deskjet 3050A's print quality, saying color graphics showbanding and blotchiness, photo colors are dull, and text sometimes is blurry.

Read more »

Kodak ESP C310

Many users report that the Kodak ESP C310 struggles with paper jams and races through ink. Print quality is also underwhelming, although this all-in-one wins points for ease of setup and use.

Read more »

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