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Beware of hidden costs for replacement ink

All-in-one printers that can scan, copy and fax are wildly popular, but there are still great reasons to buy a stand-alone inkjet printer instead. All-in-ones are expensive if you don't need the extra functionality, and they can take up considerably more space on your desk. covers all-in-one printers in a separate report.

Stand-alone basic inkjet printers are the cheapest, and are ideal for personal use or in a home office. Even low-cost inkjet printers now compare favorably to laser printers in text quality and speed. Photo quality is typically good, but not great. Still, for families and others who just want to be able to print out a snapshot now and again, a low-cost inkjet will probably suffice.

At the other end of the cost spectrum are sophisticated photo printers: They're pricey, but essential for professionals and many serious photo enthusiasts. Dedicated photo inkjet printers can now produce images that rival those from any lab.

Regardless of the type of printer, watch out for the cost of ink (or toner, in the case of laser printers). Big ink cartridges cost less per ounce. To save money, buy a printer that accepts extra-capacity cartridges.

Speaking of ink cartridges, before throwing your old ones in the trash, see if they can be recycled. Several companies will buy used cartridges, and sometimes charities or schools will collect them to raise money. Some manufacturers like HP provide postage-paid mailers bundled with new inkwells, so you can send in the old ones. Most office-supply stores accept used cartridges for recycling too, and they may offer store reward points in exchange.

This report covers full-size inkjet printers and inkjet photo printers. All the models discussed are Windows- and Mac-compatible and have a one-year limited warranty unless otherwise specified. If you're interested in a dedicated snapshot printer that prints only 4-by-6-inch or 5-by-7-inch photos, they're covered in our separate report on photo printers. chooses its best-reviewed inkjet printers using sources ranging from the user reviews at retailers like to experts such as those at, and specialty photo sites. We consider the speed, quality of prints, design, features and durability of printers, as well as ink consumption, because it greatly influences the long-term ownership costs of a printer.

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