Printers act as a link between the digital and physical worlds. Documents, webpages, and photos that start on your phone, computer, or tablet, end up on a slice of paper you can hold in your hands. If you've ever been frustrated by a printer — beyond the fact that toner is somehow the most expensive substance on Earth — it's because this transmutation from digital to physical is really hard.
For years, the only ways to connect your device to a printer was to hook it up directly using a cable. Soon, offices had the option of getting "networked printers," which would be hardwired to an Ethernet Switch somewhere in a storage room, and allow you to print to them over the intranet. Now, thanks to the widespread adoption of WiFi, there's AirPrint. An AirPrint Printer can be connected to your home WiFi network, and allow you to wirelessly print to it from your phone, tablet, or computer without a physical connection.
WiFi has gotten fast enough that using AirPrint isn't slower than plugging your device into your printer directly, so there's no loss in efficiency. The first generation of WiFi printers, released well over a decade ago, could be a little flaky, but that isn't the case with modern models. Big computer companies like Apple, Google, and Microsoft have designed the operating system used by their devices to support wireless printing without any additional apps or software.
AirPrint is a specific technology designed by Apple to allow hardware running iOS, iPadOS, and MacOS to easily connect to WiFi-enabled printers, but you won't have any trouble using them with a PC, Android device, or Chromebook. The wide adoption of WiFi, which is an open standard, is what makes this possible. If you're still connecting your device to your printer the old fashioned way, or need to upgrade from a model that isn't working well and doesn't meet your current printing needs, these are the best AirPrint printers.
How We Picked The Best AirPrint Printers
Our AirPrint Printer recommendations are based on a mix of research and hands-on testing. Below are the factors we considered most highly when deciding which AirPrint Printers to include in this buyer's guide.
Printing Speed: During our research, we found that the best printers could typically print between 10 to 15 pages per minute. This means a three-to-five-page printing job should only take a handful of seconds. Your print time will vary based on whether you're printing in black and white or color, and how much toner is required. Photos, for instance, require more ink than a printable boarding pass, which is why it'll take longer to print one.
All-in-One: Some AirPrint printers are all-in-one models, which means they also scan and copy documents, which can be helpful if you want to digitize old photos, or quickly duplicate a paper without using your phone, tablet, or smartphone. All-in-one printers are generally larger and more expensive, which is something to keep in mind.
Wired Printing: The point of getting an AirPrint printer is to print wirelessly, but it's always good to have a backup plan. If your WiFi network is down, or the computer you're using will sit right next to the printer anyway, we've made sure the AirPrint printers we're recommending can be hooked up with a cable. Some of the AirPrint printers in our guide also have an SD card slot, so you can print photos taken by your digital camera without needing a computer.
Dual-Sided Printing: Printers require paper, but you can cut down on their environmental impact by using a printer that can print information on both sides of the page. All the AirPrint printers we're recommending support dual-sided printing. If you're especially sustainability minded, you can switch over to using recycled printer paper, too.
Eco-Friendly Ink: Some manufacturers have started moving away from using traditional ink cartridges, and begun designing their printers to use ink bottles instead. Ink bottles can be refilled, and contain enough ink to print thousands of pages worth of documents, and lots of photos.
Size: Printers generally take up a lot of space, and we've tried to be conscious of that. Our AirPrint printer picks are generally around 18 inches wide and 12 inches tall. If you're especially short on space, don't worry, we have an ultra-portable printer designed for these situations.
Best AirPrint Printers: Reviews and Recommendations
Best Overall: Brother MFC-J1205W
Why It Made The Cut: Brother's MFC-J1205W is a fairly eco-friendly printer that's also fast and efficient.
— Printing Speed: Up to 16 pages per minute
— Type: All-In-One
— Size: 15.7 inches wide, 13.4 inches tall
— Fast printing speed
— Uses longer-lasting ink cartridges
— Works with Amazon's Alexa
— No on-printer display
Brother has always made the best printers we've tested, and the company’s MFC-J1205W is the best AirPrint printer that's currently on the market.
This all-in-one printer can handle any print job you throw its way at very fast speeds. This is the fastest printer in our guide, which is a big reason it's taken the top slot. Nobody wants to wait for a print job to finish. Brother's focus on the basics is balanced by some forward-looking features like support for Amazon's Alexa.
When it's connected to an Amazon Echo, you can reorder ink using just your voice through a feature called "Smart Reorders." By using the smart reordering system, you're rewarded with a 10 percent discount on Brother Genuine Ink. You can even set this system up to automatically order ink when the printer detects it's running low, which completely takes the guesswork out of when to get more toner.
Brother says this AirPrint printer uses a new type of ink cartridge that holds enough toner to get you through a year's worth of printing jobs. Whether this claim holds up will depend on your printing needs. If you're someone who keeps a printer around for emergency situations, printing boarding passes before a flight, for instance, you should be good. By designing an ink cartridge that can hold more, using the Brother MFC-J1205W should be more eco-friendly than similar models.
Our only complaint with this printer is that it doesn't have a screen on the front. To set it up, you'll need to first download Brother's Mobile Connect app, and connect it to your WiFi network that way. The app will also be necessary to check the printer's ink levels, perform diagnostics if something goes wrong, or use the scan and copy functions.
If all you want to do is print documents and images from your devices, you can discard the app once you've connected the printer to your home WiFi network. This minor inconvenience aside, the Brother MFC-J1205W's other features far outweigh the bad.
Best Budget: HP DeskJet 2755e
Why It Made The Cut: HP's DeskJet 2755e doesn't have any flashy features, but it's still a good pick for anyone who doesn't print huge jobs very often.
— Printing Speed: 7.5 pages per minute
— Type: All-In-One
— Size: 16.7 inches wide, 12 inches tall
— Has all the essential features
— HP+ can make ink more affordable
— No on-screen display
— Slower printing speed
HP's DeskJet 2755e is a bargain all-in-one AirPrint printer that doesn't skimp on any core features. It can print, copy, and scan from any device, won't take up a tremendous amount of space, and works with HP+, an optional subscription service set up by the company to automatically send you ink. The "Instant Ink" program will send you toner when it detects your printer is running low, so you'll never run out. HP offers several tiers of its Instant Ink program based on how heavily you use your printer, with plans starting at $.99 per month. The company outlines the entire program here.
The DeskJet 2755e doesn't have a physical screen, which means setting it up will require you to download the HP Smart App on your smartphone. Once your printer is set up, you can discard the app if you'd like, though it also shows your printer's current ink level, and allows you to run diagnostics if something's gone wrong. The lack of a screen is disappointing, but understandable for a printer that costs under $100.
HP also had to sacrifice some performance to help the DeskJet 2755e reach its price tag. This is the slowest AirPrint printer we're recommending — though not by much. This won't be a dealbreaker if you need an AirPrint printer for casual use, but may get annoying if you're regularly printing projects with dozens of pages each. Anyone who needs an AirPrint printer for their college dorm room or home office shouldn't notice a big difference. The DeskJet 2755e's features will satisfy most people's needs, so there's not much need to spend more.
Best for Photos: Canon TR8620
Why It Made The Cut: The Canon TR8620 has features designed for photographers, but can be used and appreciated by anybody.
— Printing Speed: Up to 15 pages per minute
— Type: All-In-One
— Size: 17.3 inches wide and 13.8 inches tall
— Big on-device display
— Auto document feeder
— Designed to print high-resolution images
— Ink cartridges aren't eco-friendly
That starts with the fact that it has two paper slots: One for regular paper and one specifically for photo paper. If you've ever gotten annoyed about accidentally printing a document on expensive photo paper, this design choice alone makes the TR8620 worth a look. This printer is also the only one in our guide that can accept an SD card, so you can print photos directly from your camera's memory card. Professional photographers will want to import their photos onto a device to edit them, but it's nice to have the opportunity to print raw shots, too.
The TR8620 has a huge touch screen on its front side, which allows you to set up and manage the printer without another device. We prefer AirPrint printers with screens, but it does add to their cost. Despite this, we still consider the Canon TR8620 to be a very good value given its set of features. This is also the sole AirPrint printer to have an auto document feeder, which means it can scan both sides of a sheet of paper at once, saving time. The printer will also automatically print documents on both sides, so you don't have to remember to check a preference box.
Overall, the Canon TR8620 is pretty hard to beat. Its elevated price (which, again, we feel is justified) and less efficient cartridges hold it back from claiming the top spot. If you're a photographer, though, there's no other AirPrint printer worth considering.
Best Portable: Canon PIXMA TR150
Why It Made The Cut: We've never used a portable printer that works nearly as well as Canon's PIXMA TR150.
— Printing Speed: 9 pages per minute
— Type: Single-use printer
— Size: 12.7-inches wide, 2.6-inches tall
— Small size
— Relatively fast print speed
— Built-in display
— No copy or scan function
Canon's PIXMA TR150 proves you don't need a lot of space to set up and use an AirPrint printer. It's up to 10 inches smaller than some of the other printers in our guide, but retains all the core functionality you'll need. It's pretty fast, has a built-in display that allows you to set up and manage the printer easily, and can fit inside a backpack. We've actually packed this printer in a checked bag when traveling to ensure we had a printer at the place we were staying.
The only two big features you lose when opting for the PIXMA TR150 are copying and scanning. You can't make a compact, foldable flatbed (yet), so you'll have to settle for printing when using this printer. Still, it's impressive that Canon was able to fit so many features in such a compact package. The only other problem we have is that the PIXMA TR150 doesn't use eco-friendly ink cartridges.
If you live a truly mobile lifestyle, or need an AirPrint printer that you can easily stow away when guests come over, Canon's PIXMA TR150 is the only game in town.
Best Sustainable: Epson EcoTank ET-2800
Why It Made The Cut: Epson’s EcoTank ET-2800 is the only AirPrint printer we feel comfortable recommending to anyone who’s serious about using technology that curbs their environmental impact.
— Printing Speed: 10 pages per minute
— Type: All-In-One
— Size: 22.8 inches wide, 14.8 inches tall
— Eco-friendly ink
— Built-in screen
— Great value
The biggest cost to using printers, from both a personal and environmental standpoint, is wasting ink and repeatedly buying cartridges. Epson's EcoTank ET-2800 is an all-in-one printer that changes all of that.
Instead of using cartridges that can't be refilled, this AirPrint printer has ink tanks, which you fill with ink from bottles designed by Epson. The company says the four bottles it supplies with the ET-2800 can last some people up to two years, and that replacing them is 90 percent cheaper than getting ink cartridges. The amount of time these ink bottles will last is based on your personal usage, but one thing is certain: No ink cartridges will end up in landfills. This design choice alone makes the EcoTank ET-2800 worth recommending.
We're also pleased that this AirPrint printer has a touch screen on it. The display is very small, which is a little frustrating, but it's better than nothing. Conversely, this is the largest printer we're recommending in terms of physical size and price, which means you'll need to have a fair amount of space to accommodate it. We personally feel it's worth sacrificing the additional space considering the value this printer will afford you over time, but understand it just might not be possible to spare a few more inches.
If you've got enough space in your home, and only want to replace older technology with newer gear that's more eco-friendly, the Epson EcoTank ET-2800 gets our stamp of approval.
Things to Consider Before Buying an AirPrint Printer
As we mentioned earlier, printers are basically big, bulky rectangles. Traditionally, you've had to keep them on your desk, so you could plug a computer into them, but AirPrint printers offer far more flexibility. We've kept AirPrint printers under a bed, out of sight in a media cabinet, or in a closet.
An AirPrint printer only requires power and an active Wi Fi connection to work, which gives you so many more placement options. If you've been putting off getting a printer because of your small desk, we recommend trying to find a slightly more out of the way place for it.
If your network is protected by a strong password (if not, change it!), your AirPrint printer will still be able to connect to it. A word of warning: Entering a long password using the small touchscreen built into a printer is very annoying. Thankfully, you should only have to do it once.
Q: Can I use third-party Ink with these printers?
Yes. Third-party companies have designed ink cartridges that are compatible with popular printers, but cost a lot less money. You do run the risk of these cartridges failing and damaging your printer, but they will fit.
Q: How do I responsibly dispose of my old printer?
If you're replacing an old printer with one that supports AirPrint, we recommend reading our guide on how to recycle electronics.
Q: How do I responsibly dispose of my empty ink cartridges?
The easiest way to properly dispose of old ink cartridges is through Staples. The store allows you to drop ink cartridges at any of their locations, or will create a printable shipping label so you can send them in from home. Staples allows you to recycle up to 10 ink cartridges per month.
Q: Will my AirPrint printer receive software updates?
Yes. AirPrint printers can download and install new firmware updates without connecting to an app on your phone, tablet, or computer. These software updates may add new features, help your AirPrint printer work more efficiently, or fix bugs that were preventing it from working optimally.
Final Thoughts on AirPrint Printers
The wide adoption of AirPrint — and the mass creation of WiFi-enabled printers — is a big win for the common computer user. Many of us have moved on from using a sedentary desktop and embraced the flexibility of doing work from anywhere in our home on a laptop. Similarly, standalone digital cameras have largely been replaced by smartphones, which can both capture and edit high-resolution pictures in seconds. AirPrint printers were designed to accommodate the devices we use now.
The ability to print over WiFi is arguably the biggest improvement to printers in the past five to 10 years, and has become a must-have feature. Getting an AirPrint printer today means you shouldn't have to upgrade any time in the near future. New printers will certainly be able to complete printing jobs more quickly, but that's more of a luxury than a necessity for common tasks like printing school papers or the occasional photo.
This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.