Being able to take online classes is great. You can show up to lectures in your pajamas and send in your assignments by email, without having to use those fiddly “pencil” things.
But most students still have to show up for class, preferably wearing something more than pajamas. And those of you who still have to do that will probably appreciate being able to type up and print out your assignments. So here they are: The five best printers for college students this school year. (High schoolers, don’t worry; we’ve got you covered too.)
HP Deskjet F4480 ($53) and Canon Pixma MP 495 ($58)
These two are basic, no-frills all-in-ones. And by that I mean they include both a scanner and fax machine. I’m not sure anyone really uses or needs a fax machine anymore, but you may find a scanner handy sometimes, even if you aren’t an art major. It’s a lot better for showing someone online what a paper or flyer looks like than taking a picture of it.
HP’s Deskjet printers get a lot of bad reviews online, and their drivers and other software don’t always play nicely with Windows. They work more or less seamlessly with Ubuntu and Mac OS X, though, and the one I have has served me well, even if it runs out of ink fast.
Meanwhile, Canon’s Pixma printers get better reviews, but a lot of the modern ones seem to be loaded down with hard-to-understand features. This one looks pretty basic, though, making it a good choice for those who don’t have time to read the instruction manual.
Kodak ESP C310 ($79.99)
Kodak? Are they even around anymore? As it turns out, they are, and the former film company is now making printers. (And suing the pants off of people in totally different markets, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.)
So what does the ESP C310 have going for it, besides its built-in scanner? Easy: The lowest cost of ink for an inkjet printer. And being able to print photos straight from your camera’s memory card is handy, too.
HP Photosmart D110a ($69.99)
Why a Photosmart, especially when the Deskjets often get bad reviews? Two words: Photo printing. And not just photo printing, but photo printing from anywhere, even from the web without needing a PC. (That’s not to say other printers can’t print photos, but the ones that are designed for it, like this one and the Kodak, usually do it better.) Plus, the Photosmart works with wireless networks and with Apple devices over AirPrint … or you can email pictures to it to print them out, and have them ready for you when you get back to the dorms.
Brother HL-2270DW ($149.99)
Finally, we have a laser printer, for those of you who need to print reports just a little bit longer than two pages. For that matter, you could print out the whole web as you read it, and put it all in a binder. Whatever floats your boat! I used to print mountains of pages to read and consult later, thanks to my fast laser printer. And while my smartphone obviates some of the need for that now, it’s pretty hard to mark notes and corrections on its screen.
Like most cheap, entry-level laser printers for college students, this one’s black-and-white only. But that’s what it’s for: It does one thing, it does it fast, and it does it well.
Whatever printer you end up with, I hope you have fun at school this year!