Buying any tech product can feel overwhelming; there are so many options. If it’s time for a new printer, there are lots of choices to sift through. HP is a reputable company that makes quality printers, but which HP printer would be right for you?
Below, you’ll find tips on what to look for when choosing an HP printer, what prices to expect when shopping for one, and a section on common issues you might run into.
When you’re done familiarizing yourself with the HP printer world, see our five HP printer picks. We’ve narrowed the choices down so you can focus on finding the best HP printer for your home or workplace.
What to consider when buying a printer
Before narrowing down the type and model of HP printer to buy, here are a few things to think about while you’re browsing for a new device.
Do you want a print-only printer or an all-in-one printer?
A print-only printer is a good option if you’re just looking to print out notes and documents and want something simple. Print-only units don’t have any extra functions. All-in-one models, on the other hand, can multitask. All-in-one printers usually perform two or more of the following.
Larger all-in-one units, built specifically for office tasks, may also have the ability to bind documents together or create booklets.
The majority of printers sold by HP are all-in-one models. If you do a lot of scanning and photocopying, an HP-brand printer is an excellent choice. HP models outperform other brands when it comes to making color copies. They are also capable of producing high-quality scans.
Does print speed matter to you?
Printing speed is measured in page per minute, or ppm. If you’re in need of a speedy printer, however, you should take this measurement with a grain of salt unless you plan on printing mostly text documents. Manufacturers calculate printer speed using low-quality print settings in order to shine the best possible light on their products. If you plan to print high-resolution photographs or lots of color pages, expect a significantly slower performance than what’s advertised.
HP printers have an average print speed rating, clocking in at about 8.5 pages per minute for plain text. That said, the plain text print quality of an HP printer tends to be above average.
For photos, HP models print a little slower than other brands. However, they’re not so slow that you shouldn’t consider HP for photo printing. On the contrary, we encountered a number of high-quality printers with photo capabilities during our research.
“Be careful when buying ink or toner online. There is a counterfeit market for this type of product. Not sure how to tell if the ink you bought is legitimate? HP has an app to help you spot fakes that might damage your printer.”
Do you need to print lots of graphics?
Most color printers are suitable for printing photographs. You just need to buy photo paper for the best results. Some photo printers even allow you to directly connect your own digital camera, as long as it’s compatible with the machine.
HP-brand printers are great for printing graphic-heavy PDF documents. For glossy prints, HP models are just as capable as other brands. However, users should expect their photos to print with a slightly warmer tone.
Do you want a printer with wireless connectivity?
While most printers can connect to your computer or laptop via USB, many also have wireless capabilities. Connecting to your printer via WiFi means you don’t need to house it on your desk. In many cases, it also means you can connect various home or work computers to a single printer.
If you have a Apple OS, you may be interested in an AirPrint-enabled printer from HP. You can print from an iPad or other Apple device wirelessly with AirPrint.
Do you want a printer that’s easily portable?
Some printers are made for on-the-go use. Much smaller than their full-size counterparts, portable printers also weigh less. Though compact, they’re pricier than regular printers but are a good option for those who travel for work or don’t have a traditional office space. They’re equally suited to those with limited workspace, such as apartment dwellers or students.
HP makes some compact printers. If you’re interested in printing photos, a portable photo printer from HP may be right for you. You simply need to connect your smartphone to print out high-quality images.
Did you know?
Some photo printers are designed to be compatible with your smartphone. They connect via Bluetooth so you can print selfies and family vacation pics on the go.
A note about paper handling
What’s a printer without paper?
Some printers are top-loading, meaning you insert the paper from the top. Others feature a paper tray on the bottom. Most printers, except some travel ones, allow you to adjust the size of the paper feed to accommodate things like envelopes and unique page sizes. Some printers also allow you to adjust for the thickness of paper used, like heavyweight cardstock.
Students and environmentally minded consumers may want to consider a printer with a duplexing feature. This feature allows the printer to print double-sided documents on its own. There’s no need to remove and flip the paper manually. You’ll save both paper and time.
HP printers rank among the fastest for double-sided printing.
HP inkjet printers vs. HP laser printers
Should you get an inkjet HP printer or a laser HP printer? Here’s a quick breakdown of the pros and cons of each printer type.
Inkjet printers are a good option for low-volume, black-and-white printing at home or in the office. Compared to laser, inkjet is the way to go for photography enthusiasts or professionals. HP inkjet printers are capable of printing high-quality plain text pages and feature print speeds comparable to other brands.
Laser printers are a popular option for office settings where printing is mostly done in monochrome. Businesses or workplaces where high-volume printing is required will find a laser printer more cost-effective than an inkjet model.
Color laser printers exist but cost a pretty penny. For most offices, a color laser printer is not a necessity. A laser printer is best for settings where frequent, large-batch printing jobs are required. HP-brand laser printers work well and are just as fast as other printer brands. Because of higher ink costs, however, they are slightly more expensive to run.
Did you know?
Print speed varies depending on whether you’re printing in color or black-and-white. Color printing will always be slower than monochrome printing.
HP printer prices
All-in-one printers are very affordable, costing about the same as a print-only options. Unless you want the most basic printer available, we recommend you opt for an all-in-one unit.
All-in-one and print-only inkjet color printers are readily available from HP for under $100. Often, however, the more inexpensive models come with higher long-term ink costs.
You can get a high-capacity all-in-one HP inkjet printer in this price range. It costs more upfront, but you save money over time because the printer uses less ink. Prints will be high-quality, as well. You can also find photo and print-only laser printers at this price point.
Printers in this price range use ink more economically, are faster, and produce higher-quality printouts. For over $300, you’ll mostly be looking at HP laser printers. For color laser printing, you can expect to spend well over $500.
Other print-related costs
A printer is an inexpensive piece of office equipment. That said, you must factor in the costs of ink and paper as well.
Many cheap printers use expensive ink cartridges that cost more than what you might pay initially for the device. With laser printers, you also need to consider the price of toner.
HP printer ink falls on the higher end of the price spectrum compared to other ink brands. HP does offer an ink subscription service to help offset the higher price of its printer ink, however.
In addition, there’s the cost of paper to think about. Higher-quality paper is expensive, but if you make the investment, your printed documents and photos will look great.
Common printer issues
For many, having a printer in the office or at home is a necessity. But a printer does come with a unique set of potential problems. Printers make life easier, but they can also cause annoying headaches when they don’t work as they should.
A slow printer performance can be remedied by going into your document’s print settings and selecting a lower-quality printing option. Printing at this setting will be significantly faster. If you just need to print notes or text documents, producing a high-quality page isn’t really necessary.
If your printed documents are not clear or have lines running across the page, it’s time for a cleaning. Go into your printer’s settings and run a cleaning cycle. Make sure to print a test page before declaring the problem solved.
Avoid paper jams by using fresh sheets of paper that aren’t torn or crinkled. Don’t overfill your paper tray, either. Store extra printer paper out of the sun to avoid yellowing and dust-collection.
No matter which printer you choose, we’ve got a few tips to help you keep it running smoothly.
Run a cleaning cycle every so often to maintain high print quality.
Don’t let your printer collect dust. It can get trapped inside your printer and cause it to malfunction.
Don’t use crumpled or torn paper in your printer’s feed. This can cause jams.
Don’t yank out the paper if your printer jams; gently pull to remove it.
Replace ink cartridges. Printing on low-ink can damage your printing head.
Use it or lose it. Letting your printer sit unused can cause the ink to dry up.
Q. Can I refill ink cartridges myself to save money?
A. While it is technically an option, refillable cartridges are often not fully compatible with specific printers. You likely won’t be alerted when the ink is low or has run out, which may cause damage to your device. Third-party ink refills may also be of lower quality than a compatible ink cartridge. If you’re worried about the cost of ink, consider signing up for HP’s ink subscription service.
Q. I went to change my ink cartridge because I received a “low-ink” alert. It still looks like there’s ink inside the cartridge. What’s going on?
A. Often, you’ll get an “ink empty” message on your screen and find out there’s actually some stuff still left in there. Some will tell you it’s a ploy from manufacturers to force people to spend more on ink. More likely it’s a safety mechanism to prevent printer head damage. It’s an annoying situation to find yourself in, since some printers won’t allow you to continue print jobs once a low-cartridge is detected. However, many HP-brand printers don’t force you to change your cartridges at this point. Just keep an eye on your ink levels, and have some backups on hand when you’re in a pinch.
Q. Does the kind of computer I own matter?
A. Not really. Most printers are compatible with both Windows and Apple systems. A printer’s system requirements will usually be clearly indicated for easy reference.