The inkjet printer has evolved in recent years, to the point where you can now expect most current models to include a scanner and copier, and maybe even a fax machine too. Other common features include wireless networking, touch-sensitive controls and memory card slots for printing photos straight off a camera.
These features are now so widespread that you can even find them in low-cost models such as Epson’s ‘small-in-one’ SX445W, which costs a mere £69.99. The latest addition to a printer’s armoury is the ability to print documents from mobile devices such as an iPhone or iPad.
Most printer manufacturers now produce apps for iOS devices, though they’ve been a bit slower to adopt Apple’s own AirPrint technology. When you’re using a new printer with a Mac or PC, you normally have to start by installing the driver software that controls the device. However, AirPrint is one of those elegant Apple technologies that “just works”. If a printer supports AirPrint, then your iPad or iPhone can automatically detect the printer on your Wi-Fi network, and send photos or other documents straight to the printer without the need to install any additional software or apps.
HP was the first company to support AirPrint, and its Envy 110 printer also includes HP’s own ePrint feature, which allows you to print from anywhere in the world by emailing your documents directly to the device over the internet. Epson, Brother and Canon also support AirPrint, however, neither the Kodak Office Hero 6.1 nor the Lexmark Pro715 support this feature, although both companies provide apps for printing on iOS devices. The Kodak printer also includes an email printing option similar to that of the HP Envy 110.
It’s interesting to note that the price range for these printers is book-ended by two space-saving compact printers – the cheap and cheerful Epson Stylus SX445W and the ultra-sleek HP Envy 110, which comes in at just under £250. Between those two extremes you’ll find a wide range of different designs and features, so read on to find out which iPrinter is the right one for you.
iPad & iPhone User says...
You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a printer that works with the iPhone or iPad. Epson’s Stylus SX445W supports Apple’s AirPrint technology and costs just £69.99. Its compact design and competitive running costs will particularly appeal to home users on a tight budget, although it’s downside is that it’s not particularly fast.
At the other extreme you’ve got HP’s Envy 110. This is the sort of printer that Apple might produce – its sleek, low-profile design immediately sets it apart from its rivals, and it supports AirPrint straight out of the box. However, it has an Apple-esque price tag, coming in at almost £250, and hits you with high running costs too.
Far more businesslike are the Brother MFC-J825DW, Kodak Office Hero 6.1 and Lexmark Pro715 printers. These are ‘four-in-one’ models that include a fax machine, as well as a printer, scanner and copier, so they’re aimed at office users rather than home users. All three are big and bulky, and cost between £160 to £199, but they’re packed with features that help them earn their keep.
The Brother MFC-J825DW didn’t make a great first impression as it arrived without up-to-date software for Lion, but once that was sorted out it proved a fast and efficient printer, offering good quality for both text and graphics.
The Pro715 from Lexmark isn’t much to look at, but its 50-sheet document-feeder marks it out as a real workhorse. Its print quality and speed are both very good, and Lexmark’s high-yield black ink cartridges provide running costs of less than 2p per page for black-and-white printing. Unfortunately, colour printing costs are well above average at 12.5p per page, so the Pro715 is best kept for occasional colour work.
In contrast, Kodak’s Office Hero 6.1 provides low costs for both colour and black-and-white printing. However, it proved to be slower than we’d expected and isn’t quite the office hero that it could be.
Ultimately, it was Canon’s Pixma MG6250 that hit the sweet spot for us. This was another printer that required a firmware update to add AirPrint, but then it combined high speeds with the impressive output quality of its six-ink printing system. Its printing costs are a little above average, but its speed, quality and all-round versatility make it a good alternative if you want something that can cope with a heavier workload than the Epson Stylus SX445W.