Although we don't print a lot anymore, it is still handy to have a printer at home. And preferably one that can also scan, because that function is also useful every now and then. Of course, nobody wants to spend too much, which is why we tested relatively cheap printers in two price ranges. What can you buy for an amount up to 100 euros and what can you expect a step higher on the ladder for about 150 euros? We found out on the basis of a test of eight models.
We print less and less, because more and more can be done digitally. If you can check in at the airport using your smartphone, why bother printing your boarding pass? Nowadays you often fill in forms online, after which you save a digital copy on your computer and/or another location. A physical folder containing all kinds of documentation is becoming increasingly rare. Also read: This way you can easily print from your tablet and smartphone.
However, most of you will also want or have to make a printout now and then, for example if you have to return a package and print a return ticket for this or if you first have to fill in a form with a pen before scanning it again and to return. The scanner on an all-in-one is of course useful if you want to do as much of your administration digitally as possible. You can then scan the documents that you do receive physically (for example, the purchase agreement for a house or purchase receipts for products that you have purchased at physical stores) and store them in a secure digital location.
For this test, we looked at affordable all-in-ones, in which we determined two price ranges: a maximum of 100 euros and a maximum of about 150 euros. This means that we focus on inkjet machines, because laser multifunctionals are out of reach for this kind of money. In the end we ended up with a total of eight multifunction printers that we passed through our standard test procedure. We received a printer from four manufacturers, namely Brother, Canon, Epson and HP, in both price ranges.
It is not new that you receive special 'starter cartridges' (also known as setup cartridges) with a new printer. Although this is not always clearly indicated, with almost every new printer you get these cartridges with a lower capacity than the normal variants. This way you have to buy a new set faster, so that manufacturers make money faster on a printer. That cannot be called really chic, rather cunning. However, with some machines in this test, the manufacturers are very different. The Brother DCP-J562DW, HP Envy 5540 and HP Envy 7640 did not have enough ink in the cartridges to complete our test procedure (which consists of about 40 prints in total and includes both black and white and color prints and both text and photo prints). prints). This is particularly difficult with the relatively expensive Envy 7640. With this model, we also ran out of extra cartridges to complete all the tests.
Even in the more affordable segments, it is good to ask yourself beforehand what you primarily need the device for. If you would like to regularly print photos on it, then the following applies: the more cartridges, the better. In this test, the two Canons and the Epson Expression Premium XP-830 have more than the four standard colors (CMYK) on board. Models with only the four standard colors can be used for printing photos on their own, but the addition of extra colors almost always results in better print quality.
It is striking that there are models with 'normal' black and models with an extra cartridge with photo black. The difference between them lies in the raw materials used. Plain black on the machines with an extra black cartridge is pigment ink, photo black is dye ink. Pigment ink is the more expensive of the two, and consists of a mixture of water and insoluble particles. It adheres very well to rougher surfaces, for example standard paper for text printing. Dye ink is cheaper to manufacture and is made from a soluble dye. It naturally has a bit more shine, but is particularly suitable for printing on glossy photo paper. Dye ink also fades faster. The models in this test that do not have extra cartridges have the cheaper dye ink in the black cartridge. The color cartridges on all models are filled with dye ink.
The two HP participants use a 3-in-1 color cartridge. This was very common in days gone by, but in recent years more and more manufacturers seemed to be moving away from this. If one of the colors runs out, you have to replace the complete cartridge with HP, even if the other colors have not yet run out.
If you are looking for a device with a more business slant, then a model with an ADF (automatic document feeder) is worth considering. You can place a stack of originals in it, after which the all-in-one scans them one after the other. In this test you end up with the Brother MFC-J5620DW, Epson Expression Premium XP-830 and the HP Envy 7640. The Brother has also been made clear for people who are going to print a little more, because the price per page is obvious. the best of all.
A few things stand out when it comes to connections. There are three models that you can still use for faxing, which is not exactly fashionable anymore. It is also striking that there is no wired network connection in the cheaper price range. The more expensive models all have this connection. All devices in this test have WiFi, as well as WiFi Direct. The latter can be useful if you want someone to print something on your printer, but you don't want to give that person access to your network. Almost all printers in this test offer the option of inserting an SD card, from which you can also print immediately.
Only the cheaper Canon and HP do not have this. A USB host connection (to which you can connect a USB stick) is reserved for the four more expensive models in this test. With the Brother MFC-J5620DW, Canon Pixma MG7750 and Epson Expression Premium XP-830, this connection is also suitable for PictBridge, with which you can print directly from a camera. This is not the case with the HP Envy 7640. In general, the presence of the number of connections clearly shows that the Canon Pixma MG5750 is the cheapest in this test. It only offers the essentials in this area: WiFi and a USB connection for direct connection to a computer.
In terms of options, there are also quite a few differences to note. It is striking that the Epson Expression Home XP-435 is the only one in this test without an automatic duplex unit. For an average of about 80 euros, that should not be missing in our opinion. If you do want to make double-sided prints, then you must first print the even pages with this printer, then turn the stack over and then print the odd pages (the other way around is also possible). We can also think of why Epson has omitted the duplex unit with the XP-435, because this all-in-one has been made as small as possible.
The XP-435 is therefore touted as a 'small-in-one'. Since a duplex unit takes up quite a bit of space, by omitting it quite a lot can be saved in that area. In practice, that is not so bad, because you are dealing here with a printer where the paper is fed in portrait at the back. In order to do this, a stand has to be unfolded. Also at the front a considerable piece of plastic has to be pulled out. In terms of footprint, the XP-435 is ultimately not much smaller than the majority of the other printers in the test, so that in our opinion the size does not outweigh the omission of the duplex unit.
If we look at the possibilities of the scanner, the two Brother machines stand out. They are the only ones that can scan for a network location. Scan to e-mail is also possible, which is also ingrained in the Epson and HP models. At least, if you use a broad definition for 'ingrained'. For all participants, this is not done via a local SMTP server, but via an add-on. With the two Brothers you have to install an app that allows this, while with the Epsons it is part of the Scan To Cloud functions. It goes through the cloud for all machines. This generally doesn't work as fast as a built-in variant, but you can just create an address book here. We also see the ability to scan to cloud storage such as Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive on all devices except HP.
The management options are much more extensive with the Brother MFC-J5620DW than with the other models in this test. It is even possible to track the number of prints per user and assign permissions to print both in color and black and white or in black and white only. With the Epsons and the Canon Pixma MG5750, you can't do much more in the management menu than viewing the ink levels.
The Brother MFC-J5620DW also stands out for another reason, namely the way the paper is guided past the printheads. This is done in landscape mode, so 'in width'. This ensures that this all-in-one is a lot less deep than you are used to. However, that has not been the primary reason for Brother to do this. A3 paper can now also be guided past the printheads. After all, the height of an A4 sheet corresponds exactly to the width of an A3 sheet. Please note: A3 paper must be manually fed in at the back. As far as we are concerned, this is not an enormous added value, especially because it does not work flawlessly. Sometimes the paper is too far in, other times not far enough. It's all just a little too close.
Performance and power consumption
In general, the more expensive printers are faster than the cheaper ones, especially for larger print jobs. The HP Envy 7640 is the exception to this rule. It doesn't perform very well. If you're looking for speed, the Brother MFC-J5620DW is without a doubt the best choice. The speed of the duplex unit also differs considerably among the participants. With the Brother DCP-J562DW you can safely take a detour if you want to print double-sided, for example. Actually, none of them are really fast at this point, by the way, you have to look one or more steps higher on the price ladder. Scanning is quite fast with most models. The exception to this is Epson's Expression Home XP-435. He takes plenty of time for this. Also on this point, the Brother MFC-J5620DW is clearly the fastest, also when we look at the quality of the ADF.
Inkjets don't consume much power, that's a given. Nothing needs to be warmed up as is the case with laser printers. Ultimately, as far as we are concerned, printers are mainly about consumption in standby, because that is the state the printer is most likely to be in. That is now nice and low with almost all types of printers. If your printer is often completely turned off and you only turn it on when you start printing, it is important that it starts up quickly. Canon is traditionally very strong in this. With a start-up time of 3-4 seconds for both models, you don't have to wait long before you can start printing with these Canons. The Epson Expression Premium XP-830 is close behind both Canons.
We are generally very pleased with the print quality of the participants in this test. The best photo prints are made by the printers with extra cartridges, with the Canon Pixma MG5750, MG7750 and the Epson Expression Premium XP-830 clearly standing out. The Brother DCP-J562DW and MFC-J5620DW also do very well in this area. The HP Envy 5540 is actually not really suitable for printing photos. Although the Epson Expression Home XP-435 does a little better, it also produces prints that are a bit too faded for our taste. The HP Envy 7640 does a decent job, but we're not really impressed by it.
In terms of text, the Epson Expression Premium XP-830 and both HP models clearly stand out, both in terms of sharpness and blackness. The Canon Pixma MG5750 and MG7750 produce texts with good sharpness, but they are less black. Text printed with the Brother DCP-J562DW is not really sharp nor is it deep black, with the Brother MFC-J5620DW the texts are sharp enough, but they could have been a bit blacker. Finally, the Epson Expression Home XP-435 produces beautiful black texts, but those are not really sharp.
If you are looking for an affordable all-in-one, you still have quite a bit of choice, even if there are not that many manufacturers. In our opinion, the best machine in this test is without a doubt the Brother MFC-J5620DW. It may have a slightly lower print quality than some of the other participants, but it is significantly faster and offers many options. This all-in-one is awarded the Best Tested predicate. If print quality is most important to you, the Epson Expression Premium XP-830 is the best choice. If you prefer to spend (more than) less than 100 euros, then you make the best purchase in our opinion with the Canon Pixma MG5750. Although it is somewhat limited in terms of options, it certainly convinces and it is also relatively cheap. If you think possibilities are more important than performance, you can also take a look at the Brother DCP-J562DW.
In the table (pdf) you will find the test results of the 8 tested all-in-one printers.
If you print a lot, the printing costs of a printer can vary considerably per printer in the long term. We have therefore calculated a price per page for all models in this test. We base it only on the ink that is consumed. In practice, the price of the paper is also added to this and, somewhat less directly, the power consumption and purchase price. These total costs are also referred to as tco, or total cost of ownership. It is clear from the table below that the Brother MFC-J5620DW is the cheapest if you purely look at the ink that is used. HP does a pretty good job here too. Also striking are the relatively high costs of the Epson Expression Premium XP-830.