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The days when the most basic home printers cost more than $300 are long gone; now you can get a basic black-and-white inkjet printer for only $30! If you need a printer that does more than just print, good quality multifunction printers can now be had for well under $100. These inexpensive printers can vary widely in quality; the best are profiled below in order of increasing price.
1. HP Deskjet 1000
This slim, lightweight printer is the best “cheap” printer on the market. Most printers in this price range have low resolution and can’t print photographs at all, but the Deskjet 1000 has great resolution with text and can even print passable black-and-white photographs. It isn’t the greatest printer ever made; it doesn’t even come with a USB cord, but if you need a basic printer, this one fits the bill.
2. Canon PIXMA MP280
The Canon PIXMA MP280 is only $25 more than the HP Deskjet, but the difference between the two machines is nothing short of astonishing. That extra $25 not only gets you a printer that has great image resolution for both text and photographs, but one that is also a scanner and a copier. The maximum resolution of the copier is 2400×1200 DPI, which is not bad at all for a budget machine. This printer is only meant for low-volume users, however; its speed is average at best and the ink is fairly expensive. If you do a considerable amount of printing, you should look at other machines.
3. Canon PIXMA iP4820
The iP4280 is another step up from the PIXMA MP280. The iP4820 has consistently been at the top of the rankings for budget printers ever since its debut. It is primarily used for printing photographs and graphics, and it prints true photo quality pictures with a resolution of 9600×2400 dpi. This printer can crank out a four by six inch photograph in less than 20 seconds. This printer uses Canon’s Chromalife 100+ system and has both a USB and a PictBridge port. The auto sheet feeder will hold up to 150 pages of paper. The iP4280 has built in duplex printing. This reduces paper usage by up to 50 percent. In addition, it is one of the quietest printers you can buy.
All in all, the iP4280 is a good choice, but look for another model if you will also need to scan, copy or fax documents.
4. Lexmark X4650 Multifunction Printer
The Lexmark X4650 is the cheapest printer on this list that includes a wireless connection. You can hook this printer up to your wireless router and print from any room in your house. This printer is only moderately fast with a top capacity of 25 black and 18 color pages per minute.
The printer also copies in both black-and-white and in color. It has 12-bit grayscale and 36-bit color depth in the scanner. The printer has ports for USB cards, flash drives, digital memory cards and PictBridge cards. It prints decent photos, which is to be expected for a printer in this price range.
The downside of this printer is the cost of the cartridges; you can expect to pay up to $25 for each cartridge.
5. Epson Workforce 520
This printer is similar to the Lexmark X4650, but it adds fax capability to its already impressive roster of features. It also has wireless capability. It has high-speed faxing of up to one page every three seconds. This printer uses instant-dry inks that produce documents which can rival the quality of a laser printer. In addition, Epson offers high-capacity black ink cartridges that have up to twice as much capacity as regular ink cartridges.
The scanning, copying and faxing capabilities are all stand-alone; they do not require a computer. Unfortunately, this printer does not have a PictBridge port. The auto sheet feeder only holds 100 pages. The primary disadvantage of the 520 is that it will stop printing if any of the cartridges runs out. For example, if you run out of yellow ink, you will not be able to print in black-and-white until you replace the yellow cartridge.