The Best Budget Printer for Designers: Top 5 Options
In today's digital world, having the right tools is essential for graphic designers to bring their creative visions to life. One of the most critical tools is a high-quality printer that can accurately reproduce paper's colours, details, and textures. However, professional printers can be prohibitively expensive, especially for students and beginner designers. The good news is that budget options now provide impressive print quality without breaking the bank.
In this comprehensive guide, I'll share my insights as a graphic design expert to help you find the best budget printer. We'll explore the key factors, like print resolution, colour accuracy, print speeds, and connectivity options. I'll provide an in-depth look at the standout models in the budget printer market, outlining their strengths and limitations. Whether you're a professional designer on a tight budget or an aspiring artist looking to print your portfolio, you will find a printer that fits your needs and budget.
By the end of this guide, you'll understand the technical specifications to look for and have clear recommendations on which budget printer is the best choice for your creative work. The ability to print high-quality mockups, prototypes, and final designs affordably at home or in a small studio can be a game-changer for designers. So, let's find the best budget printer to become an indispensable part of your creative toolkit.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Budget Printer
Choosing the right printer is a crucial decision for graphic designers. The optimal model brings your creative visions to life with stellar print quality. As you evaluate your options, keep these key factors in mind:
This is the most critical consideration. As a designer, your prints showcase the quality of your work. A high-resolution printer that offers at least 1200 x 1200 DPI is strongly recommended. This ultra-fine dot matrix captures the nuances in your designs. Images and graphics will reproduce with excellent sharpness, fine detail, and vivid colour accuracy. Lesser quality printers can produce pixelated, blurry, or muted prints. Investing in a printer that does justice to your creative efforts is worth investing in.
Printers span a wide range of prices. As a budget-conscious designer, I aim for models between $200 and $300. This hits the sweet spot of value for money. Of course, more expensive printers offer additional capabilities. But decent printers for graphic design don't have to break the bank. Focus on core features like print resolution, colour accuracy, print speed, etc. Extra bells and whistles can drive up costs unnecessarily.
Look for versatile connectivity options. An ideal printer offers USB, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and wireless printing from mobile devices. USB provides a fast, direct connection from your computer. Wi-Fi gives you the flexibility to place your printer anywhere within range. Bluetooth allows printing from enabled mobile devices. Wireless mobile printing is hugely convenient for sending quick print jobs.
Size and Footprint
Consider the physical dimensions, mainly if you have limited space. Compact all-in-one printers fit nicely onto a small desk or shelf. Sleek vertical models have a minimal footprint. If portability is necessary, look for lightweight printers under 20 pounds. But if you have ample room, larger multi-function and wide-format printers provide higher capacity and capabilities.
The ongoing cost of supplies matters. Expect to replace ink cartridges or toner every 300 to 400 prints. Opt for high-yield cartridges that offer better value. Also, look at the cost per page – cheaper printers tend to be more expensive per print. Balance upfront printer costs with long-term supply expenses. Eco-friendly ink and auto-duplexing can also reduce waste and costs.
With these critical factors in mind, you can find the ideal printer that delivers professional-quality graphic design prints while meeting your budget and needs. Don't settle for subpar prints – your work deserves outstanding reproduction.
5 Best Budget Printers for Designers
Now, let's get to the heart of the matter: Which budget printers are the best for designers? We've narrowed it down to the following options, each excelling in various aspects that cater to your design needs:
1 – HP OfficeJet Pro 7740
- Main functions of this all-in-one wide-format printer: copy, scan, fax, wide-format printing up to 11×17 inches, wireless printing, AirPrint, 2-sided duplex printing, color touchscreen, automatic document feeder, and more.Operating temperature: 5° to 40° C (41° to 104° F)
- The power of your printer in the palm of your hand: The HP Smart app allows you to easily set up your printer, scan from your smartphone, order toner, and print from the cloud—such as iCloud, Dropbox and Google Drive
- Up to 50% less cost per page than color lasers with fast print speeds up to 22 pages per minute black; support high-volume office printing with a paper input capacity of up to 500 sheets with two 250-sheet paper trays
- Print, scan, and copy in standout color on a variety of paper sizes from letter to 11×17 inches; tap and swipe the color touchscreen, easily manage print, scan, copy, and fax jobs directly at the printer
- Use Original HP 952 & HP 952XL ink cartridges for great result print after print; original HP ink prints up to 2x the pages as refilled cartridges
The HP OfficeJet Pro 7740 is an exceptional all-in-one printer that excels at home and office use. With its ability to print, scan, copy and fax, the 7740 offers unmatched versatility for the modern worker.
The standout feature of the 7740 is its ability to handle paper up to tabloid or 11″x17″ size. This expands the possibilities for creative projects, diagrams, spreadsheets and more. Print quality is superb, with crisp text and vibrant graphics at up to 1200 dpi resolutions. The 7740 utilises HP's famed thermal inkjet technology to deliver laser-like prints at up to 25 pages per minute.
You'll spend less time refilling paper with a generous 500-sheet paper capacity spread over two trays. Connectivity options include USB, Ethernet, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, so you can easily print from multiple devices. The intuitive 2.7″ touchscreen makes navigating menus and options straightforward.
One of the most impressive aspects of the 7740 is its very reasonable running costs. By utilising HP's high-yield ink cartridges, the cost-per-page is lower than competing models. The 7740 delivers exceptional value for high-volume printing.
If you require a versatile, high-quality printer that can handle large formats at an affordable operating cost, the HP OfficeJet Pro 7740 is ideal. With its speed, output quality and paper handling, it succeeds the Brother MFC-J5720DW as the top tabloid printer for home and small office use.
2 – Epson EcoTank ET-2800
- Keep your office running smoothly with the Epson EcoTank ET-2800 All-in-One Supertank Color Printer. Expect vivid, detailed prints and documents thanks to Micro Piezo Heat-Free Technology. Quickly fire off up to 10 pages per minute to accomplish large jobs with ease.
- All-in-one printer with built-in wireless (802.11b/g/n) allows you to print from virtually anywhere.
- Prints up to 10 pages per minute in black and 5 pages per minute in color.
- Up to 5760 x 1440 dpi resolution for crisp images.
- Copies up to 7.7 cpm in black and 3.8 cpm in color. Copy resolution up to 720 x 720 dpi.
The Epson EcoTank ET-2800 is an excellent choice for those looking to print large volumes at a low cost per page, making it ideal for home offices or small businesses with high printing needs. This supertank printer has enough ink in the box to print thousands of pages, saving significantly on ink over time compared to standard inkjet printers.
One of the standout features of the ET-2800 is the incredibly low cost per print. The included ink bottles provide an estimated two years' worth of ink or up to 7,500 black and 6,000 pages in colour. That puts the cost per black page at around 0.3 cents and colour pages around 0.9 cents, which are outstanding numbers for home office use. The printer also has integrated ink tanks that are easy to fill, taking the mess out of refilling.
While running costs are superb, the tradeoff is slower print speeds compared to laser printers or higher-end inkjets. The ET-2800 maxes out at ten pages per minute in black and five per minute in colour. It's also limited to 5760 x 1440 dpi maximum resolution so that photo printing quality won't match more expensive inkjets capable of 4800 x 1200 dpi and higher. If you need to print high-quality photographs rather than documents and graphics, you'll want to step up to a more capable photo printer.
Setup is straightforward with the ET-2800, though it lacks wireless connectivity, and you'll need to connect via USB. Controls are basic but intuitive, centred around a 2.7″ colour display. There is no automatic document feeder for scanning and copying multiple pages hands-free.
Overall, the Epson EcoTank ET-2800 delivers outstanding cost efficiency for high-volume home office and small business printing needs. If print quality and speed aren't your top concerns, it's hard to beat the affordability and convenience of this supertank printer. With this budget-friendly model, be aware that quality and performance take a backseat to low running costs.
3 – Canon PIXMA TR150
The Canon Pixma TR150 is the perfect portable printer for professionals who need to print high-quality documents on the go. Weighing in at just 5.1 pounds, this sleek and compact printer easily fits into bags and backpacks without adding much bulk. Despite its small size, the Pixma TR150 delivers fast print speeds and vivid image quality thanks to its advanced print head technology.
One of the standout features of the Pixma TR150 is its portability and battery operation. It can print wirelessly when powered by the optional LK-72 rechargeable battery pack, freeing you from needing to stay near an AC outlet. This makes it ideal for printing while travelling, whether commuting to the office, heading to a client meeting, or working remotely at a cafe. The battery can print up to 330 pages per charge, enough to get you through even the busiest workday.
The Pixma TR150 makes it simple to print documents, photos, flyers, and more directly from your mobile devices. It offers wireless connectivity for printing from smartphones, tablets, and laptops using the Canon Print app or Apple AirPrint. You can print directly from popular cloud services like Dropbox and Google Drive. Integrated shortcuts on the printer's interface provide quick access to these printing options.
Despite the small size, the Pixma TR150 delivers impressive print quality with up to 4800 x 1200 dpi resolutions. It can print vivid borderless photos up to 5 x 7″ and crisp text documents. A specially designed print head ejects precise 2PL ink droplets for sharp detail. The printer supports Canon's GI-790 black and CL-791 colour ink cartridges for rich blacks and vibrant, accurate colours.
With print speeds up to 9.2 ppm for black and 5.0 ppm for colour, the Pixma TR150 can quickly churn out documents and photos when you're crunched for time. Quiet operation keeps noise to a minimum when printing in public spaces. Overall, the Pixma TR150 offers exceptional quality and speed in a highly portable package for mobile professionals.
4 – HP Color LaserJet Pro
- Impress with color and increase efficiency: This business printer offers extraordinary wireless printing, fast print speeds––up to 22 ppm, automatic two-sided printing, and an intuitive 2.7″ color touchscreen
- Print remotely with the HP Smart app: Set up your LaserJet printer, manage print jobs, receive notifications, and print and scan on the go with HP Smart––HP's best-in-class mobile print app
- Save time with customizable shortcuts: Eliminate steps in repetitive tasks and organize documents 50% faster directly from your mobile device using exclusive office features in the HP Smart app
- Strong security: Help protect your HP printer and sensitive business data with built-in security essentials that help detect and stop attacks
- Wireless connectivity you can count on: Have confidence in your connection with steady performance from dual band Wi-Fi
The HP Color LaserJet Pro printer is an excellent choice for home office use. After using this printer for several weeks, I am thoroughly impressed with its stellar performance, gorgeous print quality, and hassle-free operation. This printer delivers on all fronts and is an excellent value for the price.
The most notable feature of the LaserJet Pro is its exceptional print quality. Colours are vibrant and true-to-life, whether printing photos, presentations, or documents. Crisp, sharp text and graphics make everything I print look professional. The two-sided printing capability also comes in handy for printing booklets and brochures.
In addition to superb print quality, this printer's speed is blazing fast. It powers through large print jobs effortlessly and with no slowdowns. The wireless connectivity makes printing from multiple devices like laptops, tablets, and smartphones a breeze.
Setup took mere minutes thanks to the intuitive interface and clear instructions. Since day one, I've had no issues with paper jams, misprints, or other technical problems. The LaserJet Pro works flawlessly every time I need to print.
Despite its robust performance, this printer maintains a surprisingly compact footprint. It fits neatly into my home office without dominating the space. The modern, sleek design also looks fantastic.
For exceptional print quality, lightning-fast speed, and fuss-free operation, the HP Color LaserJet Pro takes the cake. I highly recommend this printer for any home office user seeking performance and reliability in a compact, stylish package.
5 – Epson PictureMate PM-400
- This printer is designed for use with Epson cartridges only, not third party cartridges or ink. Cartridges described as Compatible, Remanufactured, refilled or refillable may not work properly or at all. See product description for more details
- Beautiful borderless photos – easily print high-quality 4″x6″ & 5″x7″ Photos
- Ultra compact design – lightweight, portable printer saves space
- Total Wireless solution – Print from iPad, iPhone, tablets and smartphones
- Photo Print speed: 4″ X 6″ Borderless photo in as fast as 36 Sec (default mode: Color photo in default mode on Premium photo paper glossy measured from start of paper feed. Actual Print times will vary based on system configuration, software, and page complexity)
The PictureMate PM-400 is a handy portable photo printer with wireless printing and beautiful 4″x6″ and 5″x7″ borderless photos. With Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi Direct connectivity, you can print directly from iOS and Android devices and Windows and Mac computers. A 2.7″ color display lets you preview photos before printing. The PM-400 churns out high-quality 4″x6″ photos quickly, in as little as 37 seconds. It also features smudge, scratch, water and fade-resistant prints that can last up to 200 years with the right storage conditions. Overall, the PictureMate PM-400 offers an easy and fast way to print photos wirelessly from anywhere.
The PM-400 uses 6-color dye-based inks to produce lab-quality photos with vivid colors and crisp details. Canon's ChromaLife 100+ system delivers beautiful borderless prints that are water and fade-resistant when appropriately stored so that they can be cherished and preserved. The 4″x6″ and 5″x7″ photo prints have excellent detail and dynamic range.
This printer churns out 4″ x 6″ photos rapidly at approximately 37 seconds per print. Even printing multiple copies is quick, so the PM-400 works great for events and gatherings where you want to print and share photos instantly. The printer slowed down for 5″ x 7″ prints to about 60 seconds, but that's still respectable.
Built-in Wi-Fi lets you print directly from iOS and Android mobile devices using the Canon Print app. Wi-Fi Direct also provides a peer-to-peer connection to print from smartphones and tablets without a Wi-Fi network. For computer printing, you can connect via USB or use the Wi-Fi connection. The PM-400 makes wireless printing easy.
Weighing just over 2 pounds, the PictureMate 400 packs much printing power into a small package. Its compact design with an integrated carry handle makes it easy to transport. So whether you're going on vacation, to a party, or want to print photos around the house, you can take this printer anywhere.
Overall, the Canon PictureMate PM-400 delivers quick, high-quality wireless photo printing in a highly portable package. Printing from smartphones and tablets is extremely convenient, and the compact size makes it easy to print photos anywhere. If you want great-looking 4″ x 6″ instant prints from digital devices, the PM-400 is an excellent choice for the price. It's the perfect photo printing companion for travel, parties, family memories and more.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
To address common queries that designers may have about budget printers, here are five frequently asked questions, along with concise and informative answers:
What resolution should I look for in a budget printer for design work?
For detailed design work, a resolution of at least 1200 DPI (dots per inch) is recommended to ensure sharp and clear prints.
Can budget printers produce accurate colour reproductions for design projects?
Some budget printers offer impressive colour accuracy, but it's essential to check reviews and specifications to find one that suits your needs.
Do I need a Wi-Fi-enabled printer for design work?
Wi-Fi connectivity can benefit convenience, but it's not a strict requirement. USB connectivity can suffice for most design tasks.
Are compact printers suitable for professional graphic designers?
Compact printers can be ideal for on-the-go designers or those with limited space. However, desktop printers often offer more advanced features.
How can I minimise ink or toner costs when using a budget printer for design projects?
To save on ink or toner costs, consider using draft mode for initial prints, choosing third-party cartridges, and optimising your design files for efficient printing.
In conclusion, selecting the ideal budget printer for designers requires careful consideration of multiple factors. No singular best option suits every designer's needs and constraints. You must align your choice with your design workflow, financial limitations, and workspace logistics.
Several vital criteria should guide your decision. Print quality is essential – sharp, accurate prints are needed to visualise and convey your creative ideas properly. But quality must be balanced with affordability, as sticking to a budget is crucial. Connectivity and size are also important variables, dictating how seamlessly the printer integrates into your existing setup. And don't overlook operating costs like ink and toner – cheaper printers often have pricier long-term supplies.
Weighing all of these factors meticulously while keeping your priorities in mind will lead you to the budget printer that best suits your needs as a designer. The printers recommended here have particular strengths, whether print quality, connectivity, size or price. But they also have inherent limitations. By understanding their pros and cons, you can make the optimal choice.
With the right budget-friendly printer, you can bring your creative visions and designs to life with precision and visual impact. A printer tailored to a designer's needs, constraints and preferences will become invaluable to your workflow. So take the time to make an informed decision – the perfect budget printer for you is out there waiting!
Last update on 2023-09-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API