What are the features that make for the compact printer? As the title suggests, you need to look for a smaller size than standard office printers. The added portability that comes from a smaller footprint and lighter weight is invaluable and one of the biggest selling points in this category.
A close second is the printers’ connectivity options. While virtually all small printers have physical connectivity in the form of a USB port, the best printer also offers wireless technology and connectivity. These printers should be able to connect to your laptop or mobile devices with ease to access your documents, images, and graphics for print jobs. They may even be able to connect to cloud storage options like Google Cloud Print or iCloud.
Finally, portable printers also offer built-in batteries and adjustable paper trays for use on the go, so you can use various paper sizes. Additional features may include the ability to print on both plain paper and photo paper or scanning functionality. Keep reading to learn more about the best compact printers.
Top Compact Printers
#1 HP DeskJet 3755 Compact Printer
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: We love this printer’s excellent AI voice assistant support, which provides granular controls through the hands-free mode for fine-tuning your prints at the last moment. Being mainly an inkjet printer, it is also more power-efficient than its laser counterparts.
- Supremely power efficient
- Excellent support for high-resolution print outs
- Excellent compatibility with AI-based voice assistants for hands-free printing
- Mandatory paid subscription for HP instant ink
- The network connectivity is pretty hard to set up
Being an inkjet model, the HP DeskJet 3755 Compact Printer is exceptionally efficient both in terms of its overall ink usage and electricity usage while in operation. It also has an ENERGY STAR certification to go along with that. In addition to that, you get four months’ worth of free ink through the HP instant ink subscription. However, this can also be a limiting factor as the cost of ink is pretty high.
Despite not having an auto document feeder (ADF), this inkjet printer is capable of printing out up to eight black and white pages per minute (PPM) and up to five and a half color prints per minute without facing any slowdowns. It has two high-volume input (60 sheets) and output (25 sheets) paper trays that help with substantial workloads. It also has a high-resolution flatbed scanner for digitally copying and storing essential documents for backups.
#2 Brother Compact Monochrome Laser Printer
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: This printer features a high-capacity 250-sheet paper tray, which is fantastic for those who regularly perform high-volume printing. And it has a ton of connectivity options that allow the user to print from pretty much any device.
- Excellent 250-sheet paper tray
- Exceptional support for wireless printing along with an extended range
- Extremely versatile printing through the USB interface
- Guzzles a ton of ink and electricity
- Limited to only one ink subscription service
- The lack of an auto document feeder
The Brother Compact Monochrome Laser Printer has many connectivity options, including NFC (Near Field Communication), Wi-Fi for wireless communication, and an extensive USB interface that allows the user to keep this printer connected with pretty much every device in their homes. This best wireless printer for home provides reliably fast printing without facing the hassle of reconnecting. However, it does not come with an auto document feeder that most printing shops require for extreme printing workloads.
Despite the lack of an ADF, it does have a high-capacity paper tray (250 sheets) which should be more than enough to handle the high volume workload of a small office. This best printer for a small business also has an excellent Wi-Fi range thanks to the built-in high gain Wi-Fi chip, and as a result, you can easily move this printer to any part of your room without losing wireless connectivity whatsoever, just like any other compact and portable wireless printer in its range.
#3 Canon imageCLASS LBP6230dw Laser Printer
Award: BEST COLOR PRINTING SPEED
WHY WE LIKE IT: It continuously has an extremely fast printing speed of up to 26 pages in a minute. Moreover, it has a 250-sheet paper tray, which helps out tremendously during high-volume printing workloads; excellent for a portable printer.
- Extremely fast color printing speed of 26 pages per minute
- Superb high-volume (250 sheets) paper tray
- Easy-to-use ecosystem of the Canon desktop and mobile printing software
- Lackluster printing quality
- High power usage
- Not very ink efficient at all
The Canon imageCLASS LBP6230dw Laser Printer is an excellent portable color printer for professionals that care about printing speeds. It is capable of printing up to 26 fully colored pages per minute continuously. Best of all, it has a monthly duty cycle of up to 8000 pages, which is some of the highest you can get in its range. However, its high printing speed does not come without any drawbacks, as its print quality suffers at those breakneck speeds.
Despite being mainly a portable and compact printer, it has support for auto-duplexing. And that allows this printer to automatically print content on both sides of a paper, reducing waste in the process. The brand’s printing ecosystem is also extremely easy to use, as it connects all your devices, including your laptop, desktop, and smartphone, to the same home network. It is also exceptionally easy to set up, even for a new user.
#4 Epson PictureMate PM-400 Wireless Printer
Award: BEST PORTABLE
WHY WE LIKE IT: We adore this printer’s small size and lightweight body, allowing the user to easily carry it anywhere. Furthermore, the ecosystem blends well with supported devices and internet-based printing, enabling the user to print from anywhere.
- Extremely small and lightweight
- Exceptionally fast high-resolution photo printing speeds
- Excellent completely wireless ecosystem
- Only supports Epson ink cartridges
- Glossy paper required for borderless photos are expensive
- The print speed isn’t that impressive for normal printouts
As the Epson PictureMate PM-400 is an inkjet printer; it has a fairly nominal ink and electricity usage cycle. And that is partly due to its small and lightweight body and compact design. Another benefit its small body provides is portability, which is exceptionally useful for a photo printer of its caliber. But you might not be able to use third-party ink cartridges with this model, which are usually cheaper.
Besides ink refilling, the Epson ecosystem offers a net benefit to this system, as it pairs exceptionally well with supported devices for wireless and internet-based printing. And that means you can take a photo in anywhere in the world, and as long as your printer is on standby and connected to an internet connection at your home, you can directly send the same file over for printing. It is also capable of printing out a high-resolution photo within just 36seconds.
#5 Pantum P2502W Wireless Laser Printer
Award: BEST CONNECTIVITY
WHY WE LIKE IT: This monochrome printer has a ton of connectivity options. In addition to that, despite being a portable printer, it supports a wide variety of paper types and sizes with a fast printing speed.
- Extremely high printing speeds of up to 23 pages per minute
- Supports a broad range of paper types of sizes
- Easy to set up for the first time
- It does get somewhat warm while handling high-volume workloads
- Noisy operation
- Poor build quality
The Pantum P2502W Wireless Laser Printer is a supremely fast model, as it can print out up to 23 pages per minute. Moreover, this monochrome printer boasts a broad range of connectivity options, from WiFi to wired USB 2.0, for printing from a desktop PC. Furthermore, it is also exceptionally easy to set up for the first time. However, it gets very hot and loud after a while if you subject it to a continuous high-volume printing workload.
It automates most of the tricky parts in order to help novice users connect it to their existing home networks. And best of all, it comes with an included ink cartridge starter kit that is capable of handling up to 700 pages, depending on the content. Despite being a laser printer, this model does not consume too much electricity or ink during operation, which makes it a viable and economical option for those looking for an efficient laser printer.
#6 Lexmark B2236dw Monochrome Compact Printer
Award: BEST BLACK AND WHITE PRINT SPEED
WHY WE LIKE IT: It is a speedy printer that can print up to 36 black and white duplexed pages per minute without any slowdowns. It also supports Google Cloud printing, allowing users to print from anywhere in the world through the internet.
- Fantastic print speed of up to 36 pages per minute
- Comprehensive LCD display for displaying the printing status
- Excellent support for auto duplexing
- High electricity usage
The Lexmark B2236dw Monochrome Compact Printer is a portable laser printer that sports an exceptionally fast printing speed of up to 36 pages per minute on a continuous basis without succumbing to slowdowns. In addition, it also supports auto-duplexing, which is very useful for saving paper as it automatically prints on both sides of a sheet, depending on the printing content. However, as it is a laser printer, it isn’t very efficient in terms of ink and power usage.
This printer also features an LCD display on top of its central control panel that displays the printing modes and status in real time. Moreover, thanks to its WiFi, USB, and ethernet ports, this printer does not fall behind in connectivity.
Beginner’s Guide to Compact Printers
What Are Compact Printers?
Simply put, compact printers are smaller, or mini, versions of standard office printers. Many of these tend to be the best small printers for home. They still perform the same function as other printers: printing images and text onto plain paper. They just do it in a more portable and flexible way. And, some of these little printers can also rank as the best printer with cheap ink. One good alternative to a compact printer is the advanced Bluetooth printer which enables you to print documents from your other gadget using wireless connectivity.
Compact Printers vs. Traditional Printers
Compact printers and traditional printers share the exact same function. Their purpose is to take an image or text document from your computer or phone and print it onto a piece of paper. And, because of their small size, they tend to be great small printers for a home office or a good compact home printer. However, the essential form factor of the two printers is fundamentally different.
Although a compact printer is typically more affordable with its low price and printing costs, traditional printers offer a larger size at 14 inches tall and better width. But, the compact size is attractive to individuals who need great graphics but have limited desk space.
The best small mini printer takes size and portability to the next level. Compact printers are meant to be either taken with you or placed in tight spaces with ease. However, it’s important to note that this decrease in size can sometimes mean a sacrifice when it comes to multi-functionality. For such a device with multifunctionality, have a look at the Brother Mobile Color Page Scanner DS-620.
Moreover, many of the best compact wireless printers don’t give you scanning or faxing capabilities. They also tend to have smaller ink reserves and minimal paper trays, if they even include a paper tray at all. So, if you’re considering using the best small wireless printer for home use, make sure you don’t need a printer with multiple functions. But, for those who just need a good small color printer for home photos or simple occasional printing, then a compact printer for home use is best.
These printers offer an affordable price and low ink cost. Plus, due to its compact design, it’s often considered a portable device. Moreover, photo printing capabilities can be completed over Wi-Fi direct.
And if you need a mobile printer, portable printer scanner, or faster printer for your home office and on-the-go use, there are plenty of options available to suit your needs.
How Compact Printers Work
As you might expect, compact printers function in essentially the same way as traditional office printers. Most commonly, mini printers are compact inkjet printers, which use ink cartridges to deposit tiny drops of ink onto the paper. In short, this inkjet technology offers excellent print quality and performance in a much smaller package.
Laser printers usually don’t make an appearance in the compact category since the printing technology inside them is larger overall. So, if you’re looking for compact laser printers, this isn’t the category for you. And, if you want all-in-one printers, then check out our comparison article on the Brother J805DW vs J995DW.
Some small printers are thermal printers, making them ultra-compact since they don’t require any ink. Instead, this printer type utilizes thermal paper to create your prints. The printer features a heating element to which the paper reacts. The downside of compact thermal printers is that they only print in monochrome. Therefore, avoid getting any compact desktop printer titled as a black and white printer. Otherwise, you won’t end up with the printer you want.
Portable models, on the other hand, may offer great image quality but are not ideal for printing large batches of documents. Therefore, if you need to print a large volume of black-and-white documents, opt for a larger model that has improved capabilities and better image quality.
When it comes to power and connectivity, you have a wide variety of different options with small printers. You either get the best small Wi-Fi printer, which connects to your devices wirelessly, or the best small desktop printer, which connects via a USB cable. Small printers can be battery-powered but can usually be plugged directly into the wall.
While most compact printers sacrifice advanced functionality for a smaller footprint, there are some models that offer additional features. The most common addition you’ll find is scanning functionality. Even better, some of these scanner-equipped printers offer faster scan speeds and direct scan options to improve your scanning ability.
Keep these tips in mind as you shop through the many best small home printers of 2023.
Do You Really Need a Compact Printer?
If you need mobile printing, a compact printer is an excellent option. Whether you’re a student, traveling business professional, or small business owner, the best small wireless printer can work wonders for you. Ensure it offers Wi-Fi connectivity, and an AC adapter, and receives a high rating by expert reviewers. That way, you know that your purchase will be worth the money.
Additionally, you’ll need a small device if you’re using a printer for business, such as the best receipt printer. Using a compact printer also enables you to have more room in your home office. This can increase your office’s overall functionality, allowing you to have more elbow room and comfort.
Is a Compact Printer Worth Buying?
- You Travel Often: If you travel a lot for your job or personal pleasure, then purchasing a compact and portable small printer is a perfect choice. Many models offer built-in batteries, so you don’t need a dedicated power source. These same models also tend to offer wireless printing via a Wi-Fi connection.
- You Don’t Have a Lot of Room for a Printer: If your home office or working space doesn’t have a lot of table room or countertop real estate, then a small printer could be your saving grace. Since these printers don’t require a lot of room, you can place them virtually anywhere without a problem.
- You’re a Student: If you have limited space in your dorm or need to make prints in between classes without going home, then a compact printer can help you out. They tend to be the best printers for students since they’re so compact. And, the portability and potential for a built-in battery have a lot of versatility for students.
Why a Compact Printer May Not Be For You
- You Need a Fast Printer: Because of their compact size, small printers don’t usually have the internal space to provide fast and portable printing mechanisms. In general, mini printers offer slow printer speed. If you need speedy printing, then these printers may not be for you. A good printer that is fast is the impressive laser printer which is designed to respond to print requests quickly and handle a higher volume of printing than other types of printers. If you don’t travel often and need a printer for specific purposes like a multifunction printer, you should invest in a printer more dedicated to your needs, like how an art teacher would probably be more interested in the best printer for crafts.
- You’re on a Budget: While it may seem counterintuitive, smaller doesn’t always mean cheaper, especially when it comes to printers. To make modern printers operate in a smaller size, manufacturers need to use more expensive parts, which often translates to higher prices for you, and some may find those to not be the most reasonable price for their needs. If you’re looking for a cheap printer and need those lower price ranges, especially if the running costs are expensive, then you may want to look elsewhere for an inexpensive printer.
How Long Will a Compact Printer Last?
Like most office printers, the best small home printer should last you anywhere from three to four years, according to a study conducted by InfoTrends. This fact assumes you are using your printer an average amount. If you use it less, you may get more life out of the printer. You may also see a decrease in lifespan if you use it more than average.
A compact printer’s lifespan can also be dramatically altered based on the environment in which you use it or in which you store it. For example, if your office space is dusty and dirty, you can expect some debris to make it into your printer and cause problems.
Similarly, if you carry our compact portable printer around in your backpack unprotected, it’s likely to get damaged in some way, shape, or form. Always use your printer in a clean environment and store it in a protective bag when transporting it.
How to Choose the Best Compact Printer
Choosing the best compact printer ultimately comes down to determining your individual needs and finding an option that fits those needs. Before pressing that buy button, take some time to determine what you want your printer to do, including both your must-haves and wants.
Compact Printer Key Factors to Consider
Consider the following questions during your research. These questions will help you narrow down your compact printer needs so you can research options more strategically.
1. How portable do you need your printer to be?
Your first order of business when purchasing a new compact printer is to decide how much portability you need. Consider these portability features:
- Battery Life: You won’t have a portable compact printer unless you have some battery power. If you’re looking to take your small printer with you, only consider options with a built-in, rechargeable battery.
- Size: Consider how much space you have on your person to carry an extra mobile device around with you. Taking your compact printer with you can be cumbersome, so consider how big the unit is before you purchase it to take with you. If you plan on transporting it in one bag with your other devices like the best shipping scales that are portable, make sure it can all fit in the bag.
- Printing Speed: How much print speed do you need in your small printer? Most portable printers are slow, especially when compared to standard office printers. If you purchase an option that’s too slow for you, then it may not be worth it to use as a portable compact printer. This can also be an important factor if you want to treat this printer like a business printer, and the availability of the printer can’t be a question since time is money and your business needs to print often.
2. What type of printer do you want?
Next, you’ll want to consider what compact printer type you want to purchase. There are two main types of printers to think about during this phase of your research:
- Inkjet Printer: The vast majority of mobile printers are inkjet printers. Inkjet printing technology is ideal for use in small printers. It’s also more affordable overall, both for you and for manufacturers. Inkjet printers use ink cartridges or ink tanks full of liquid ink to create your prints. You will need to replace cartridges as they run out.
- Thermal Printer: A few compact printers are thermal printers. These types of printers don’t require ink. Instead, they use thermal transfer paper to create your prints. The printer uses a heating element to heat up the transfer paper in the pattern of the image or text you’re printing. If this stirs some interest in you, we have an entire guide on finding the best screen print transfer printer.
3. Do you want to print in color or black and white only?
Since most mini printers use inkjet printing technology, they are most often color and monochrome printers. However, some compact printers out there only print in black and white. Most monochrome compact printers are thermal printers.
Consider the types of prints you’re making and determine whether your need a black and white only option or if you also need color printing capabilities for color documents. Color printing for color photos will end up being more expensive over the long run, but you can’t beat the higher print quality.
4. What kind of additional functionality do you need?
While all compact printers offer the core printing functionality, many options offer more features and functionalities. While you may not be able to buy a true all-in-one printer in this category, you can still consider options with these features:
- Scanning: A built-in scanner is the most common additional functionality on compact printers. The best small printer scanner allows you to print and scan documents easily. Usually, the scanner functionality simply comes in the form of automatic document feeders. These printers are the closest you’ll get to an all-in-one printer in this category.
- Touchscreen Interface: Compact printers with touchscreen interfaces increase user-friendliness. A printer with a touchscreen interface can positively impact you if you are less technically savvy.
- Connectivity Options: Purchasing a compact printer with various types of connectivity gives you more flexibility and versatility. If you’re on the go, you might want to consider an option with both USB and wireless connectivity.
5. What kind of connectivity do you need?
Finally, consider the type of connectivity you need. We touched upon this in the previous question, but it’s valuable to go further in-depth here. Let’s take a look at the most common types of connectivity:
- USB: Virtually every compact printer will be able to connect directly to your computer via a USB cable.
- Wireless: Wireless compact printers can connect to your computer via Wi-Fi. Both devices need to be connected to the same Wi-Fi network in order for this to work.
- Wi-Fi Direct: Compact printers with Wi-Fi Direct functionality can connect to your computer without a central Wi-Fi network connection. Instead, the two devices communicate directly with one another.
- Bluetooth: Bluetooth compact printers also connect directly to any mobile device with Bluetooth functionality. This is the best type of connectivity for use with smart devices, such as mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. And if you do a lot of printing from your iPhone, be sure to check out our list for the best iPhone photo printer.