The concepts behind inkjet printing were first developed in 1951, even before dot matrix printing which one would think is an older technology. The basic idea with inkjets was that ink would be squirted onto the page using jets that receive a continuous ink feed. Since this time, several prominent companies focused their considerable energies on improving the implementation of this printing technology in a variety of ways.

The inks in the inkjet cartridges are one area that has seen a significant improvement over the ensuing decades. Inks tended to dry out quickly and become unusable when the printer isn’t regularly used. New formulations for inks has managed to improve upon this issue.

Manufacturers often now use microchips added to the ink cartridges that can monitor the current ink level, communicating that information to the printer, which stops printing when one of the color cartridges has too little ink left inside it.

Third-party ink cartridges are used in place of the more expensive proprietary cartridges from each printer manufacturer. Acquired devices will reset the microchip once the cartridge has been manually refilled, instead of needing to buy replacement inkjet cartridges from the printer’s manufacturer every time, which is more expensive and damaging to the environment.

Inkjet printers come separated into some categories. There are personal inkjet printers for limited home use and office inkjet printers designed for regular use by employees. Some inkjet printers are only mono only (black and white), but others print in full color.

Full photo color printing is a specialty sub-category within inkjet ranges for most manufacturers that aims to reproduce photos with pleasing accuracy. In most cases, the squirting of the ink onto the page makes it damp to the touch when using a large amount of ink for a photograph reproduction. The heavier print stock is needed to counteract this effect. However, in most cases printing photos on a color photo inkjet printer are 50% less expensive than using a color laser printer for the same purpose. As such, there is a trade-off to be had there.

Home inkjet printers will often only have a button interface to control the printing, with the user needing to use the print queue inside their operating system to manage print jobs. Office inkjet printers usually come with 2 to 3-inch touchscreen with touch & swipe functionality, similar to a smartphone, which is used to manage tasks and change settings.

Inkjet printers produce a varying number of pages per minute depending on their model. The more advanced office versions can print up to 31 pages with black ink, but color printing reduces the rate to 27 or fewer pages per minute. Laser printers can produce a greater quantity in a shorter time-frame, but for most offices, Inkjets are fast enough.

All-in-one inkjet printers are one of the most popular sub-categories. With these models, a single inkjet printer can print, scan and copy documents, and send and receive faxes. For people working in a home office with either a limited budget or a shortage of desk space, this compact approach looks ideal.

One downside with all-in-one printers is that they represent a single point of failure, because when one part of this functionality fails on the owner, often the entire printer stops functioning. At that point, the photocopying, scanning, printing, and ability to send and receive faxes is temporarily lost. Each family, small business owner or larger company has to decide whether this is an acceptable risk.

All-in-one printers continue to be the best-sellers because of their compactness and customer satisfaction from their increasing reliability over the years.

What’s Included with The Best Inkjet Printer

Each inkjet printer comes with its main body, cover, and document feeder cartridge that holds up to 35 sheets ready to be automatically fed into the printer. An output tray is provided too. The first ink cartridges also come in the package to get the owner ready to print their first pages.

Depending on the manufacturer, a printer manual may be provided, but increasingly companies are offering downloadable PDF file versions of their manual due to its size and their ability to deliver translations in different languages.

Different inkjet models have one or two paper feeders, especially the business-oriented models, to prevent the printer running out of paper as quickly. However, laser printers have far greater capacity for document feeders than traditional inkjet models do.

What to Know Before Making a Purchase

Office-focused inkjet printers can scan files, create a digital document and either email it, upload it to the company cloud or save it to a network folder. Furthermore, apps are now available from some printing companies that let users print a document directly from their smartphone or tablet direct to the printer. Decide whether these types of features is needed before making a purchasing decision because they cannot be added after the fact on inkjet printers that do not support it.

Can the printer print double-sided? A useful feature and one that can cut down on paper usage in the office.

What paper sizes does the printer support? The usual suspects are Letter, legal, A4, 8 x 10 inch, 5 x 7 inch, 4 x 6 inch, and No. 10 envelopes.

Many printers are Wi-Fi enabled, which is helpful for wireless environments offering printing access to multiple devices without the need for a LAN cable.

The scanner option in all-in-one printer models is up to 1200 DPI. Less expensive models offer lower scan quality. Furthermore, photocopy features include being able to reduce to 25% of the original size or increase by up to 400%.

Other Considerations

The operating cost of inkjet printers is usually lower than their laser counterparts. However, they can be a little more troublesome when using colored inks.

The all-in-one models have more moving parts and subsequently, more things that can go wrong with them.

Best Brands

Hewlett-Packard over the years has become synonymous with both inkjet and laser printers. To many people, HP is the gold standard for laser printers and carry over that impression to their inkjet range too.

Canon is better known for their DSLR cameras and smaller point-and-shoot cameras than they are for their inkjet printers. Nevertheless, the company has a promising range of inkjets.

Epson used to be the elephant in the room with printing. Their market position has waxed and waned since HP gained dominance, but they still have reliable inkjet products worth consideration.

What Consumers Say

Taking a look at consumers’ reviews, these are a few of the opinions most often voiced by buyers:

Memory card slot: Unlike with digital cameras, inkjet printers do not usually come with slots for storage cards.

Mac compatible: Many inkjet printers now work successfully with PC, Mac, and Linux. Check on individual models to ensure the desired operating system compatibility is available.