Do you mostly print text? If so, you'll probably be very happy with a black-and-white laser printer. They create the sharpest, cleanest text of any printer type. Color laser printers produce text that's nearly as nice, and the best ones print beautiful color graphics. However, for the most professional-looking graphics and any photo printing, you'll need an inkjet printer. These printers are covered in their own reports.
Do you need copying, scanning or fax capabilities? If so, check out our report on all-in-one printers. They cost more and take up more space than standalone printers, but they can save on both (money and space) if need that functionality and you don't already have a copier, scanner or fax machine.
How fast do you need to print? Business-class laser printers have fast processors and robust memory, so they can print 40 to 50 pages per minute or more. Less expensive laser printers usually print about half that fast -- but that will probably be fast enough for a home user or small work group.
Do you plan to make two-sided printouts? The best printers -- even the cheap ones -- usually have duplexers that allow automatic two-sided printing. If your printer doesn't have a duplexer, you'll have to duplex manually (printing odd pages first, then flipping the stack over and printing even pages).
Do you want to share the printer -- or print wirelessly? The very cheapest laser printers can only connect to one computer at a time, via USB cable. Step-up laser printers (starting at about $90) usually offer Ethernet (wired) or Wi-Fi (wireless) shared networking, or both. Some printers can print directly from your smartphone or tablet, or straight from cloud sites like Google Drive.
What are your system requirements? Current-model printers will be compatible with recent Windows and Mac operating systems. But if you're using a different operating system (such as Linux) or older equipment, check to make sure the printer you choose will work.