Smart printers for students

Back to School: The best budget multifunction printers

Hit the books

Fall is fast approaching, and that means a new school year. And while education is rapidly going digital, printing on paper—from kindergarten activity sheets to college papers—is often still required. So if you've got kids in school, or if you're in school yourself, now's a great time to make sure you have a printer that can handle the workload. Here are a few of our favorite low-priced printers—multifunctions that'll print, scan and copy as well as standalone color inkjets. They'll handle the work without busting the budget.

Canon Pixma MX870

The Pixma MX870 ($200) is one of the better-balanced inkjet MFPs we’ve tested recently. Printing color pages averaged just under 0.5 ppm on the Mac, while scanning a 4-by-6-inch photo at 1200 dpi took about 90 seconds. Color prints on both plain and photo paper had rich, smooth color, and text pages looked black and sharp. The pigment black ink costs $15, about 4.62 cents per page. The cyan, magenta, and yellow cartridges cost $13 each, which works out to about 2.5 cents per color per page.

Canon Pixma MX350

The Pixma MX350 ($150) MFP offers a good assortment of features and capabilities for an affordable up-front price. The standard-size black cartridge ($16, or 7.3 cents per page) and unified color cartridge ($22, or 9.0 cents per page) are tolerable if you print infrequently, but expensive if you print a lot.

Epson Artisan 810

The Artisan 810 ($200) MFP is plenty fast, and its ink costs are reasonable—replacements cost $17.09 for high-capacity black (3.1 cents per page) and $10.44 for standard-capacity color (2.1 cents per page). A page with all six colors would cost 13.6 cents. Epson sells high-yield, 855-page cartridges for all but black; they cost $16 each, or 1.9 cents per color, per page.

Kodak ESP 7250

Though the ESP 7250 ($150) is a bit slow with prints, it produces nice photos and has affordable inks. The tricolor cartridge ($18) is rated for 420 pages, or only 4.28 cents per page. The 425-page black cartridge ($10) comes out to 2.35 cents per page. If you have an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, you can print to the 7250 using the Kodak Pic Flick app.

Lexmark Pinnacle Pro901

The Pinnacle Pro901 ($200) MFP is packed with features that would satisfy someone with high printing demands. It uses Lexmark’s 105XL high-yield black cartridge, which costs just $5 and lasts for 510 pages, which works out to a scant penny per page. The 600-page 100XL color cartridges (one each for syan, yellow and magenta) cost a middling $18 apiece, or 3 cents per color per page. Lexmark also provides a lengthy 5-year warranty.

HP Officejet 6000 Wireless

It may be just a color inkjet printer (not a MFP), but the Officeject 6000 Wireless ($90) is a prety good deal. It has decent speed and iamge quality, and it can connect wirelessly to your Mac, but it also has USB and ethernet. Replacing the black ink costs $20, or 4.8 cents per page. The cyan, magenta, and yellow cartridges cost $10 each, or 3.3 cents per page.

Canon Pixma iP4700

As a single-function color inkjet printer, the Pixma iP4700 ($100) produces excellent photos when using Canon’s glossy photo paper. It also handles paper well, with a pair of 150-sheet input trays. It’s USB only, however, so make sure you get a cable. The inks are resonably priced, with pigment black for text at $15 (4.3 cents per page), and each color (syan, yellw, and magenta) at $13 (2.7 cents per color, per page). Photo black, used only with imagesis $13 (2 cents per photo).

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