Finding the best inkjet printers isn't rocket science, but it does depend on what you intend to print. Different printers are optimized for photos, business documents, color or wireless operation. If money's no object, you can get a top-of-the-line machine that handles almost everything well. If you're on a budget, look for leaders in the function that's most important to you.
Best Photo Printer
The best photo printer is the Epson Stylus Photo 1400; a printer that's been around for years but has yet to be overthrown at the top of the photo category. At more than $250, it's pricey for a printer, but the high-quality photo prints that this inkjet produces make it well worth the cost. Epson uses its own printing system to get the ink on the page, producing finer, sharper detail in images than its competitors. Be warned, though, that if you intend to do a lot of black-and-white printing, you may need to tweak the printer to get reasonable quality prints.
Best Office Printer
Hewlett Packard makes a line of business inkjet printers that offer the perfect solution for small offices or workgroups that need printing capabilities. The HP Business Inkjet line consumes ink at a more reasonable rate than some other inkjet printers, but the ink consumption is offset by the relatively higher price of the machines in this series. Still, with network printing and high-quality photo print capabilities, these machines offer the flexibility that small offices need.
The Lexmark X7675 Pro wins accolades as the best all-in-one inkjet printer. While this inkjet printer suffers some serious design snafus, such as a low-capacity document feeder tray and slower printing, the pros far outweigh the cons. If you need to scan, fax and print and don't have a lot of high-volume printing jobs, this machine is the ideal choice.
Hewlett Packard makes great printers, and it's no surprise that the best color printer is an HP Deskjet 6940. The DeskJet 6940 offers high-quality color prints fast, with speeds up to 36 pages per minute, all with a very reasonable price tag. HP makes its money on print cartridges, so be warned that you'll pay more for replacement ink cartridges.
The HP OfficeJet J6480 wins for best wireless inkjet printer. This multifunction device sets up quickly and easily, enabling you to print and scan wirelessly from anywhere in the home or office. The OfficeJet J6480 comes fully loaded with features, but without a fully-loaded price tag, checking out for less than $200.
The Canon Pixma MP610 multifunction and photo printer wins as the best overall inkjet printer. No matter what you need to do, the Canon Pixma can do it. With high-quality photo prints, high-quality text and graphics and multifunction features, the Canon Pixma beats the competition for printing and document finishing capabilities. For less than $200 you'll be able to tackle a variety of printing needs, but you won't get the same high-quality prints that some printers can produce.
Inkjet printers may be the grouchiest and most unruly of all office appliances. With all the moving parts and the demand put on them, they tend to experience problems frequently. Luckily, you can fix most of these issues yourself.
Inkjet and laser printers both have advantages and disadvantages and each works well for different situations. Whether an inkjet or laser printer is the right choice for you will depend a lot on how you plan to use it and what your specific printing needs are.