As T3 notes in its best printers buying guide, a printer today is more than ever a very worthwhile investment. With more people than ever before undertaking work from home on many days of the week, having the ability to print off your own documents with ease is super useful.
And this is especially true for students going back to school, college or university. Having a printer in the dorm room or your student accommodation means that coursework can be printed out whenever you want and, when it comes round to color printing, often cheaper than if you were to get it done in town. Just finished an all-nighter and need to print off your work to submit to the professor first thing? With your own printer you're covered.
Even if your educational establishment does have printers on site, they're almost certainly not accessible 24/7 and, in most cases, will still cost money, too. As such, if you're a student on a course where you're going to need to print of plenty of coursework or essays, or scan in texts books, then a printer of your own is a smart investment.
That's why T3 has created this buying guide to the best printers for students in 2021. Our criteria for selecting these printers is affordability and compactness primarily, which we feel are the two most important things for a student printer to deliver, as well as obviously strong core functionality. We've got printers that just print, as well as all-in-one models that include scanners and copiers as well.
If you're headed back to school soon and feel you could also benefit from a new portable computer then be sure to also check out T3's best student laptops buying guide, which is crammed full of highly rated systems. For specific photo prints, meanwhile, check out our best photo printer guide.
The best student printers available today
We really like this three-in-one printer here at T3 as we feel it delivers a great all-round package for students that really doesn't cost the Earth.
The Canon Pixma TS5351 delivers color printing, scanning and photocopying functionality, which is great, while there's also great wireless connectivity in the form of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
The design is just incredibly stylish, too, and the dimensions of the TS5351 are lovely and compact meaning it's easily fitted into a small student accommodation.
The paper capacity isn't huge at just 100 sheets, and those sheets can only be A4, but we think most students won't need to print more than that in one sitting and, even with average use, should only need to be topped up every month or two.
Equally, this isn't the fastest printer out there, either.
Official ink cartridges aren't the cheapest but if you buy in XL-capacity then you can save some money. You could, of course, also scope out third party cartridges, which do cost less.
Overall, though, we think that for the money, which is incredibly affordable, this stylish printer will cover the needs of the vast majority of students, thereby making it our number one recommendation of student printer on the market in 2021.
For students who feel they need slightly bigger printing ability from their printer, then the Epson Expression Premium XP-6105 is well worth considering.
This printer remains really rather compact but does so while delivering an impressive 500-sheet paper capacity and 23 pages per minute printing speed, too. As such, any student who needs to regularly print substantial documents will be very well catered for.
In addition to this strong core functionality, the XP-6105 also comes with Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi Direct connectivity for wire and port free printing, dual paper trays that makes it easy to switch between A4 and photo paper, and the ability to print on CD/DVDs, too.
As you would expect from an all-in-one like this, the XP-6105 also comes with a built-in scanner and copier.
There's one very good reason to buy this student printer over any other in this guide. That reason is that it comes with, right out of the box, a selection of super high-yield ink cartridges that deliver up to three years worth of ink (rated at 6,000 printed pages). That means that you're set for the duration of a three-year student course, while if the course is only a year or two, then you're covered for the workplace, too.
There's plenty more to like about the Brother DCP-J1100W All-in-box as well, such as its 6.8cm color LCD touchscreen interface, built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, decent paper capacity of 150 sheets and long-lasting, hassel-free 3-year warranty.
You can print, scan and copy with the DCP-J1100W, too, and the companion app works with any iOS, Android and iPadOS device.
Reasons to stop before you ring this printer up are its print speed, which isn't fast at just 12 pages per minute, not particularly compact dimensions and, super bland design, which certainly isn't going to do your room any good in terms of aesthetic.
This is a very streamlined printer that should appeal to those who do the vast majority of their printing via their mobile phone. This is because this printer has a two-way cloud-based network connection that means it can operate even when there isn't a Wi-Fi network present.
The HP Tango X companion app, called the HP Smart App, is very impressive though and makes using the printer very straightforward.
The design on the Tango X is just drop-dead-gorgeous as well and so minimalist and un-printery that we feel you could easily place this anywhere in a room and not even bother trying to hide it.
The print speed and paper capacity really do suffer due to this compact design, mind, with a paltry 50 sheets storable in the tray and a max pages per minute rate of 11.
There's also no physical scanner on the Tango X, either. That will be a deal breaker for some students and not for others.
But if you need a stylish, compact and affordable printer for light use while at college or university, this is a great choice, and delivers impressive color and black and white results.
Last up we have the HP OfficeJet Pro 8035, which in the UK is annoyingly know as the OfficeJet Pro 8025. And what you need to know about this printer is that it is an all-in-one that, if you can live with the size and cartridge cost, is probably the best all-round printer in this list.
That's because not only does this printer deliver a fast print speed of 20 pages per minute, sizeable paper tray capacity of 225 sheets, automatic document feed (ADF) functionality and fax (although we're not sure who is still using fax in 2021), but it also delivers a built-in scanner as well. You've got a proper 4-in-1 here along with great printing results, and that makes it a great option for students.
You've also got USB, Ethernet and Wi-Fi connectivity, which is super practical, and the HP Smart App makes printing remotely easy as well. This printer also supports AirPrint and Google Cloud Print functionality, too.
For the price it is a remarkable package, but be sure to factor in the cost of cartridges during your course before you buy, and especially so if you're going to be a heavy user as they're not particularly cheap. Third party cartridges can help here, as too buying official XL variants.
How to buy the right student printer for your needs
To decide what student printer you should buy you should ask yourself a few key questions, but the first should be "what will I actually need from this printer for my course?" This is super important as different college courses have different requirements from what they expect in terms of handed-in, printed-off work.
Students on graphic design and other creative artistic courses, for example, will likely need to print of illustrations, sketches, artwork, models and designs frequently and, ideally in color, so a printer that has lower ink cartridge costs would likely be a smart choice.
Meanwhile, a classics major may instead need to use their printer less frequently but then print off documents or essays that could stretch into the hundreds of pages. Here a student printer with large paper capacity and good printing speed would be ideal.
Other things to consider are obviously your budget but also less obvious things such as just how much space you have for your printer and where it is going to be placed in your dorm or digs. We feel a student printer should lean towards being compact and unobtrusive, as space is often at a premium and the machine has to be taken to and from college or university. But if do have space for a larger printer then it can be a smart purchase as you will likely unlock large capacities and more features.
And, talking of features, ask yourself if you need scanning and copying functionality, too. Some printers aimed at students have basic scanning and copying built in, but others do not.
Connectivity is also an important thing to consider. How are you going to be sending documents to your printer? If it's by USB drive then make sure the printer you buy has a USB port, for example.
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