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Best Printers for College Students in 2016

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An all-in-one printer might be the best solution if you are a collage student

An all-in-one printer might be the best solution if you are a collage student

Do College Students Need Their Own Printers?

As students prepare to head for college, one piece of equipment they will be considering taking with them is a printer. This might not be completely necessary, since many colleges offer printing services in computer labs. However, many people will still prefer to have their own, for the flexibility of being able to print an assignment on the go.

So what should you look for when choosing a printer for college students?

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Printer for College

  • Footprint. College dorms are not known for their huge dimensions. You need something that will fit into cramped quarters.
  • Cost. Obviously students don't have wads of cash to spare.
  • Cost per Page. Depending on how much you will use it, the cost of operation (mainly of replacement ink cartridges) will be more important than the cost of the printer itself. Printer ink is one of the most expensive liquids on earth (by volume).
  • Connectivity. Being able to connect to the printer through wi-fi is normally a big advantage, but do check that you will have wi-fi in your dorm, if not than make sure that the printer can be plugged in with a USB. If you have an iPhone or an iPad, then Airprint enabled printers will be very convenient.
  • Quality of printouts. This is particularly important if you are going to be printing a lot of colour graphics or photos.
Laser printers are bulkier and more expensive than inkjets, but might be the right choice if you only print text.

Laser printers are bulkier and more expensive than inkjets, but might be the right choice if you only print text.

Inkjet or Laser? All-In-One or Single Function?

One of the first things to decide is whether to buy an inkjet or a laser printer. To be honest, the choice for most people is going to be inkjet. They are generally cheaper and smaller, two of the important criteria that you will be considering.

However, if all you plan to do is produce black and white text, then a laser printer is worth considering. There are some affordable ones around now; they are not all huge machines for commercial use only.

Laser printers are much cheaper to run; the toner cartridge is much cheaper than replacement ink cartridges. They also print text much faster, and of better quality. However they will not be able to deal with your photos or graphics.

Another thing to consider is whether you want a multi-function printer (MFP) that will do double up as a scanner and a photocopier. All-in-one printers, as they are now called, are not significantly bigger or more expensive than devices that only print, and you will probably find the extra functions handy.

If you are on a tight budget, however, you will probably not get all-in-ones with automatic document feeders and multiple paper trays. These extras are important for small businesses that copy or scan a lot of pages on a daily basis, but not necessarily for a casual user.

Three Reasonable Printer Choices for College Students

Here are three printers that might work well for your college student: a Canon All-in-one that will make nice prints for a low initial cost, a Brother all-in-one that can fax and use cheaper third-party ink, and a Brother laser printer that will make large quantities of good black-and-white prints for the lowest long-term cost.

1. Canon PIXMA MG5620 All-In-One Printer

Like most Canon printers, this entry-level PIXMA MG5620 is well designed and compact, and prints very high-quality colour photos. With a footprint of 14.6 x 18 inches it should have no problem fitting even in cramped student dormitories.

You can connect to the printer through a USB port; through Wi-Fi, or directly from your smart phone or tablet through if it is Apple or Android. Unfortunately the printer does not have this option for Windows phones.

Being an all-in-one printer it can also double up as a scanner and photocopier, which might come in very useful for you. Finally it is a very reasonably priced printer.

Operating costs are very reasonable for an inkjet. You can buy cartridges individually so you only need to replace the ones that run out. According to the data provided by Canon you should be able to print text at 0.8 cents per page while a colour photo page will cost you 11 cents in ink.

Printing and scanning speeds were a mixture, with black-and-white text printing being somewhat slow, but colour image printing speed being much faster than other competitors.

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For an entry-level inkjet printer the Pixma 5620 gives you excellent print quality, lots of connectivity options and very reasonable operation costs. You will probably really appreciate its scanning and photocopying capacity during your student days!

2. Brother MFCJ425W: Printer, Scanner, Copier and Fax

This entry-level multi function printer from Brother might be a little bit larger than the others, with dimensions of 15.9" x 14.9" x 7.1". But it will print good quality documents and nice photos. The printing speed is not bad, and the running costs are considerably less than for the Canon. Unlike the Canon this printer can be used with third-party inks, which could save you considerable money on cartridge replacements in the long run.

It can be connected to over the Wi-Fi network, supports AirPrint, and also supports printing directly from mobile devices using Google Cloud Print.

In summary this is a good printer, recommended for people who will be printing many colour pages and need to save on ink cartridge replacements. Also for people who might need to fax documents, a function many entry-level multi-function printers don't have.

3. A Laser Printer for Students: the Brother Brother HL-L2340DW

An inkjet printer is definitely more versatile, and a better choice for most people. But if you only ever pages of text in black and white, then you can save yourself a lot of money in the long run on inkjet cartridges, and produce better pages much faster with a laser printer.

The HL-L2340DW is the last in a long line of extremely good printers, and reasonably priced printers from Brother. At 15 pounds and 14.2 x 14 x 7.2 inches it is far from the old behemoths that come to mind when you mention laser printers, and should have no trouble fitting in no matter how crumbed your living quarters.

The printer is very quick and easy to setup, it will connect wireless to any computer, mobile phone or tablet. It produces high quality print. It is cheap to run compared to other printers and will automatically handle duplex printing, saving paper, the environment, and producing professional-looking double-printed reports.

With all this going for it, it is no wonder the HL-L2340DW was chosen as the best budget printer of 2015 by Forbes magazine.

By choosing a laser printer you will not have the ability to print photos, you will also not have photocopying or scanning functions in your bedroom. However if you are on a budget and want the simplest solution to printing your term papers and essays then the Brother printer is well worth considering.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


HowieHam on July 14, 2014:

As a network administrator at a large college, who also frequently interacts with similar folks at other schools, I have to say that that these articles can be maddening. Usually, students are NOT at liberty to bring wireless routers and such, and wireless printers are also frequently on the "these won't work, please don't bring" list. The technical reasons are many, but if the school provides wireless networking, odds are that you DON'T want to plan on using a wireless printer. You are far better off with a USB connection.

Christin Sander from Midwest on July 30, 2013:

I have a brother printer similar to the one you listed and I can attest to the fact that with 3rd party ink it is very, very economical to run. I highly recommend that one also. Great hub!

Vincent Koo on July 28, 2013:

Thanks for this post, as a student entering university much like you described, I am faced with a bunch of options when it comes to printers. At the moment I know I'm going to be printing a lot of black and white text, but I don't want to be limited when it comes to coloured printing because I might just need that too. Which leaves me at a crossroad, the safe choice would be the inkjet even though it will run higher in costs over time. Though I think I'm going to go with a laser printer and either keep the coloured pages digital, or I'll just pay to print them at the school.

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