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Best printers for Chromebooks

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In today’s increasingly paperless world, there are still those times when you need to be able to print a hard copy of a document. Sometimes you may want an actual print of a memorable photo to set on your desk or hang on a wall. Today’s printers come packed with a myriad of features to help users do just that, regardless of what devices your content is stored on.

In our post about Chromebook printing we covered how to get whatever printer you may currently have to work with your Chromebook. But what if you are in the market for a new printer?

Today’s printers reflect the growing number of ways people deal with documents and photos and have made printing a much more user-friendly experience. Here are our suggestions for the best printers for Chromebook users.

We’ve chosen a printer in each of the following printer categories:

Best Affordable All-In-One Printer: Brother WorkSmart MFC-J880DW

 

If you are looking for a printer that balances a broad feature set, ease-of-use, compatibility, and a price that won’t break the bank, the Brother WorkSmart MFC-J880DW is a great value (Note: the MFC-J885DW version is also available from some other retailers, but there is no meaningful difference in price or features).

Price:   $99-$130

Best Features

  • Can scan, print, copy, and fax
  • Great consumer-grade color print quality
  • Compact design
  • Document feeder
  • Bypass tray option
  • Two-sided (duplex) printing and scanning
  • Intuitive color touchscreen controls
  • Wireless (802.11b/g/n), wired ethernet, NFC, and USB connectivity options
  • Google Cloud Print enabled
  • Can scan to and print from most popular cloud storage services
  • No computer connection required for setup
  • Inexpensive third-party ink options
  • Energy Star certified

Overview

The Brother WorkSmart MFC-J880DW is the printer I have recommend to friends and family for the last couple of years. It is exceptionally easy to setup and run using nothing but its color, touchscreen interface.

Once the printer has been connected to your home network, you have the ability to add your login information to whatever cloud-based services you use. All the big players are represented: Google Drive, DropBox, Facebook, Box, OneNote, Evernote, Flickr, and OneNote.

From there, you can use the touchscreen to print directly from the cloud or scan new documents directly to the service of your choice.

Of course, the inclusion of the Google Cloud Print feature means that you can easily print directly from your Chromebook, too.

The rest of the printer’s features perform exceptionally well. Photos and documents come out looking sharp. The printer can save paper by printing on both sides of a page. The document feeder allows you to reliably scan or copy double-sided documents. OCR features allow you to scan a paper document into an editable text file. You can even connect mobile phones and USB drives for easy printing and scanning.

From a power standpoint, the unit only draws 1.3 watts of power in sleep mode (which it will automatically revert to when not in use for a set period of time. This means you can reliably leave the unit on, ready to receive print jobs, without worrying about seeing more than a few cents increase in your monthly power bill.

The only real downside I have found with this printer is its noticeably slow print speed. That being said, if you factor in the time you save thanks to the printer’s overall intuitiveness and ease of use, waiting a few extra seconds for a document doesn’t seem so bad.

If you are looking for a reliable, feature-rich all-in-one printer that will play nicely with your Chromebook and favorite digital services, the Brother WorkSmart MFC-J880DW is a steal at under $150.


Best Laser Printer:Brother MFC-L2740DW

 

Price:   $200-250

 

Best Features

  • Can scan, print, copy, and fax
  • Fast 32-page-per-minute print speed
  • Document feeder
  • Bypass tray option
  • Two-sided (duplex) printing and scanning
  • Intuitive color touchscreen controls
  • Wireless (802.11b/g/n), wired ethernet, NFC, and USB connectivity options
  • Google Cloud Print enabled
  • Can scan to and print from most popular cloud storage services
  • No computer connection required for setup\
  • Energy Star certified

 

Brother’s MFC-L2740DW is a monochrome laser printer packed with a feature-set that is comparable to its inkjet cousin, the aforementioned MFC-J880DW. The obvious difference is the fact that the MFC-L2740DW offers the traditional perks of a laser printer: speed and sharpness.

For Chromebook users, you have the ability to use Google Cloud Print as well as link your favorite cloud-based storage options. As a result, any of your web-enabled devices (not just Chromebooks) interface with the printer and scanner features easily.

The MFC-L2740DW uses slightly more power in sleep mode than its inkjet counterpart the MFC-J880DW, but at under six watts, leaving the printer on 24/7 will still cost less than a dollar a month for most users. That being said, laser printers do consume substantially more power while in full operation and the MFC-J880DW is no exception coming in at a whopping 500 watts. Keep in mind, though, laser printers need substantially less time to complete a print job, so that peak power consumption number can be deceiving.

One thing to keep in mind is that you won’t be printing out any vacation photos or eye-popping color charts on this printer (although the scanner can scan in full color). While there are color laser printer options like the Brother MFC9130CW, they can come at a $50-$100 premium up front and will require more toner replacements over the lifetime of the printer.

If your printing needs start and stop with documents, the speed, clarity, reliability, and rich feature set should put the Brother’s MFC-L2740DW at the top of your list.


Best High-Volume Printer: Epson WorkForce ET-4550 EcoTank All-In-One Printer

 

If you need a printer that can churn out page after page without bankrupting you with toner costs, Epson’s EcoTank series has you covered. These inkjet printers use a series of refillable tanks mounted to the side of the printer rather than those little plastic toner cartridges that never seem to hold enough ink. The end result is a tremendous reduction in the overall operational cost over the life of the printer.

Price:   $399-$499

 

Best Features

  • Can scan, print, copy, and fax
  • Uses refillable ink tanks instead of cartridges
  • Incredibly low cost of operation
  • Document feeder
  • Two-sided (duplex) printing and scanning
  • Wireless (802.11b/g/n), wired ethernet, NFC, and USB 2.0 connectivity options
  • Google Cloud Print enabled
  • No computer connection required for setup
  • Energy Star certified

 

Overview

If you are in the market for a printing solution for a small business or home office, the Epson Workforce ET-4550 is worth considering. You can connect to the printer via USB 2.0 or network and the setup process is fairly straightforward. Google Cloud Print is also supported so Chromebook users are good to go!

One thing to note is that while the majority of the printing and scanning features are comparable to other mid-range all-in-ones, Epson doesn’t have all of the cloud service integration options as Brother’s latest printers.

Furthermore, there isn’t a color touchscreen interface for operation directly from the printer itself. The ET-4550’s four-line monochrome display uses physical arrow buttons for navigation. It gets the job done, but I can honestly say I’ve been spoiled by the Brother printer interfaces.

The real attraction to the ET-4550 is the way it handles toner. By purchasing ink and adding it directly to the printer, you can get by on a $15 ink purchase that can last anywhere from six months to two years. If you are a high-volume printer, the Epson WorkForce ET-4550 may be your best bet in the long run for a balance between Chromebook compatibility and cost-effective printing.

In terms of power consumption, the ET-4550 won’t break the bank, either. With an impressive 1.5 watt power consumption while sleeping and an even more impressive 11 watts during operation, the Epson ET-4550 more than makes up for its high initial cost with an overall inexpensive cost of operation.

 

Conclusion: Best Chromebook Printer

When all is said and done, today’s printers have seemingly caught up with the evolution away from traditional desktop computing. Whether you are looking to print from a Chromebook, mobile device, or even a cloud-based storage service, there are affordable printing and scanning solutions out there that will deliver great quality for an affordable price.

 

What printer or all-in-one are you using with your Chromebook? Share your experiences with our readers in the comments below!

 

 

 

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