Consumer Reports: Choosing the best ink printer

Ink can be expensive so Consumer Reports looks at the best printers to save cash on ink.
Updated: May. 12, 2023 at 5:30 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — People have a lot to say when it comes to printer ink! “Printer ink is unexplainably expensive,” one person told Consumer Reports. Another said, “You’re continuously having to buy ink, which isn’t cheap. And it doesn’t last.” Consumer Reports hears you loud and clear and has some good money-saving news when it comes to printers and ink.

“You want to choose a printer that doesn’t waste a lot of ink on maintenance cycles and one that doesn’t have high costs to replace that ink,” Chris Raymond of Consumer Reports said. In its laboratory tests, Consumer Reports calculates both factors so you can see just how much a printer will really cost you over time.

Inkjet printers that use cartridges typically have very high ink costs and aren’t known for being very reliable. But one model that does well in Consumer Reports tests has a low-price tag and moderate ink costs for an inkjet. It’s an all-in-one printer from Brother, and it uses about $68 worth of ink each year.

Ink costs are based on typical printer use, which is roughly 30 pages of text and 10 pages of graphics each month. If you do a lot of printing in color, there’s a better option that will actually save you money over time, even though the upfront cost is higher. “Tank printers don’t use ink cartridges. They have reservoirs that you refill with bottles of ink,” Raymond said. And compared to cartridges, those bottles are a bargain! Ink for this Epson EcoTank is only $5 a year. And if you own it for a few years, it becomes one of the cheapest printers in Consumer Report’' ratings.

If you don’t need to print in color, Consumer Reports says a black and white laser printer is your best bet. This all-in-one from Canon only costs about $13 a year for toner, which is different from ink. And it gets top marks for text quality and speed.