Officejet or Stylus Office? What to look for in a home office printer

by , Technology Researcher Printers 07/05/2012
Office printer

More than a third of people we surveyed said they use their home printer to print both business and personal stuff, so a home office printer is rarely all work and no play.

While it’s true a home office printer will need to be versatile, it doesn’t have to have every feature under the sun to make a good job of printing both your business reports and family photos.

So we’ve put together a list of  five features worth looking for in a home office inkjet printer, many of which can be found on the Epson and HP printers which have recently come out of our printer test lab.

Five features to look for in a home office printer

1) All-in-one wi-fi printer

Wi-fi printer

A wi-fi printer can print wirelessly from multiple devices

For the ultimate in versatility you’ll want a printer that can print, copy and scan, and wireless connectivity is a must if the whole family want to be able to print from different devices.

The majority of printer manufacturers now have apps available for printing wirelessly from smartphones, but the types of document you can print vary – some only allow you to print photos via the app.

If you’re an iPad owner, it’s worth opting for an AirPrint compatible printer, such as the £90 Epson Stylus Office BX630FW. With AirPrint you’ll be able to print a range of document types – including webpages – wirelessly from an iPad.

You can find other AirPrint compatible printers in our printer reviews.

2) Duplex printing

Most printers can print double-sided pages – which will save on paper. However, some have manual duplexing which means you’ll have to flip the page over by hand during printing.

So look for a printer with auto-duplexing – or automatic double-sided printing – such as the recently tested HP Officejet Pro 8600. A printer with auto-duplexing can be set up to automatically print on both sides if that’s what you want it to do.

However, it’s worth noting that print speed will be a little slower with duplex printing as the page has to pass through the printer twice.

Epson Stylus Office BX305FW

An automatic document feeder makes scanning and copying multiple pages simpler..

3) Auto document feeder – think ‘fax’

An automatic document feeder (ADF) is handy because you can use it to copy or scan multiple pages without having to manually feed the sheets of paper in one at a time.

ADFs are commonly found on printers that include a fax function, but even if you’ll never send or receive a fax, the ADF may be a useful addition.

If you want an ADF, look for a printer with a fax function, such as the Epson Stylus Office BX305FW.

4) Double-sided scanning and copying

Most ADFs can’t be used to automatically scan and copy pages that have print on both sides of the page, but this functionality has become available on some newer printers.

You can find printers capable of double-sided scanning and copying using our compare features tool.

Epson Stylus Office BX935FWD

This Epson has two paper input trays under the output tray.

5) Dual paper trays

If you print both text and photos, look for a printer with dual paper trays, such as the Epson Office Stylus BX935FWD.

If the printer has more than one paper tray you won’t have to swap the paper over as often when you switch from printing on plain paper to glossy photo paper, or plain to headed paper.

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KevT

Thanks for this helpful advice. Katie. I have two kids who need to do a lot of printing and often fight over whose turn it is to use our home PC in order to do so. I am thus considering upgrading our current printing device to one of the wireless printers. Our current printer is HP and so far we’ve been very happy with the quality of our prints so I wouldn’t want to go for a different brand. Which of these HP wireless printers would you recommend?

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