If you work at home, having one of the best compact printers is essential. In fact, even if you don't have a home office, getting a small printer to help out with life admin is a really good idea. Most compact printers also double as scanners and copiers, so you can not only use them for printing, but for digitizing documents too. If they don't take up masses of space, they're a handy computing accessory.
When you're choosing the best compact printer for your needs, think about what you'll be using it for. Most just want a good inkjet printer for printing out important documents, and only really need something with good black and white clarity, and the option to include a splash of color. Most will scan and copy, so that covers digitization. If this is you, then you can pick up a basic small printer for around $50-100, but be aware that printer prices, generally, are a little higher right now thanks to the extreme demand created by an uplift in home working.
If you do a lot of printing, you should look to pay extra for features like wireless printing, automatic document feeders, and ink saving tools. You'll pay a little more for these premium printers, but it's well worth it for extra convenience and printing speed. If you want to print out images, you'll probably want to consider a specialized photo printer instead. Compact printers will often (not always) print color photos, but you may not get a good enough resolution or print quality with an all purpose printer.
Be aware that most of the best compact printers require ink. While some don't, the majority do, so if you're looking to save money we also have a guide to discount ink cartridge stores, who can supply cheaper ink. And if none of these small printers work for you, we have a guide to the best all in one printers, which are larger models for big volume printing and small businesses.
1. HP OfficeJet All-in-One 250: Best compact printer overall
It should come as no surprise that the HP OfficeJet All-in-One 250 still holds our top spot in the best compact printers rankings. Not only does this print high quality pages and images with almost no errors, but it also comes stacked with all the extra features that you’d expect on a full size printer, including an excellent scanner that lets you scan and copy documents on to go.
It’s a little bit heavier than we’d like for a mobile printer, but thanks to its in-built battery pack it can be taken out and about, so you can get great print quality wherever you are. The HP OfficeJet All-in-One 250 prints quickly at between 7-8 pages per minute and it’s much quieter than the average printer, so you won’t disturb people around you if you need to use it in a busy office environment, or even a coffee shop at a push. All of that with a printing resolution of 4800 x 1200 dpi, which is excellent for a printer of this size.
You can connect to the HP OfficeJet All-in-One 250 via USB, WiFi, or Bluetooth and it works with just about any device, with a dedicated HP mobile app to get it working with your smartphone. You really couldn’t want anything more from a compact printer, which is why this takes our top spot.
- Read the full HP OfficeJet All-in-One 250 review
2. HP OfficeJet Mobile 200: Best value compact printer
The HP OfficeJet 200 Mobile is the smaller sibling of the HP OfficeJet 250 All-in-one, which we think is the best compact printer on the market. What makes the HP OfficeJet 200 Mobile different and helps it stand out from the other model is that this is a truly mobile printer, with a built-in battery so it can be used on the go.
As you’d expect from a mobile compact printer, the HP OfficeJet 200 Mobile supports wireless printing from your laptop, as well as have a wired connection for when you choose to use it like a regular printer with your home computer. What really helps the HP OfficeJet 200 Mobile stand out though, is the amazing print quality that even rivals many full size printers. It’s also quiet and prints pages at a decent rate.
There’s main sacrifice you’re making for this mobility is the lack of a scanner, but considering the small size and weight of the HP OfficeJet 200 Mobile, we’d have been amazed if they’d squeezed one into it. All-in-all, this is just a fantastic little printer.
- Read the full HP OfficeJet 200 Mobile review
3. Canon PIXMA TR150: Best for home office
Canon is one of the biggest names when it comes to printers, so you can rest assured that the Canon PIXMA TR150 comes from a strong lineage of excellent printers. Unlike most of its more conventional efforts though, this compact printer focuses on keeping its size down without compromising on print quality.
Out of the box, the Canon PIXMA TR150 isn’t technically a mobile printer since the battery pack is an optional extra, but either way it’s small, relatively light and prints to a high standard with a resolution of 4800 x 1200 dpi. This means it’s good enough for printing some photographs, though you’ll still want a dedicated photo printer for high end DSLR shots.
There are some nice creature comforts too including wireless connectivity and Alexa/Google Assistant compatibility. Overall the Canon PIXMA TR150 is a solid choice if you need a compact printer.
4. Brother PocketJet 7 PJ723: Best portable printer
There are portable printers, and then there’s the Brother PocketJet 7 PJ723. This thing is positively tiny, measuring 10.04 x 2.17 x 1.18 inches and weighing just 1.25 lbs - we’ve eaten chocolate bars bigger than that. Obviously, some sacrifices were required to get a printer down to the size of a Tolberone. For starters, the PocketJet PJ763mfi uses thermal technology similar to laser printing, which means no color printing for you.
On the plus side, that also means no ink refills, so this is the perfect printer for a business person who needs to print invoices and contracts on the go. You do need to buy specific thermal paper though, as the heating process could damage normal paper. The print quality is great for text documents with excellent text clarity.
As we said, sacrifices have been made, but if you need a portable printer, nothing compares to the PocketJet PJ763mfi in terms of size.
- Read the full Brother PocketJet PJ763mfi review
5. HP DeskJet 3755: Best budget compact printer
Technically we’re pushing our definition of a compact printer with this one, but while it doesn’t call itself one, the HP DeskJet 3755’s diminutive size speaks for itself… as does it’s ridiculously low price. This is hands down the best budget compact printer we’ve seen, costing just $89.99.
It’s not portable, there’s no built-in battery and at 5.5 lbs, you wouldn’t want to be lugging it around with you anyway, but if you’re looking for a small, cheap printer to fit into your apartment or office set-up without taking up too much space, this is the one.
It even comes with a built-in scanner and copier which operates by feeding documents through it (since it isn't big enough to have a flat bed scanner). The print quality is just OK, if we’re honest and you may get a few print errors but when you consider how affordable the HP DeskJet 3755 is, we think it’s still a great device.
- Read the full HP DeskJet 3755 review
6. Epson WF-110: Best for business
If you’re a business professional who needs to print high quality documents on the go, then the Epson WF-110 is the best compact printer for you. With a stylish and yet dignified design that fits in both a professional work setting just as well as it does on your desk at home, the Epson WF-110 offers a great blend of high print quality and mobility.
In fact, the print quality is do good that the Epson WF-110 even advertises itself as a photo printer, with the capability to print 6 x 4 borderless photos, which very few compact printers offer. The rechargeable lithium-ion battery should be able to keep you going for around 100 printed pages, but you can also buy additional external batteries for bigger jobs.
The Epson WF-110 is easy to use thanks to it’s intuitive controls and LED screen which means you won’t have to mess around with complicated settings while you’re trying to print a last minute document for a meeting, or keep customers waiting while you print an invoice. If you’re running a business on the go, this is the printer for you.
- Read the full Epson WF-110 review
How much does a compact printer cost?
The best compact printers tend to be pricier than all-in-one models because of their size and how portable they are as well as their batteries.
The compact printers we tested range from around $90 to just under $400, and the average price of a compact printer is around $250 – a little more than double the cost of an average all-in-one model. However, the priciest compact printers aren’t necessarily the best investment. You can get great print quality and functionality without paying a premium. For the best value, look at models that cost around $200.
Key features to look for when buying a compact printer
Generally, the lighter a mobile printer is the better. However, we looked for models that balance features and quality with their compact size. As you look at a mobile printer, check its dimensions to see if it’ll fit inside of the carrier you typically use, like a laptop bag or backpack.
Another important consideration is the battery life. Check to see how many documents you can print or days you can go before you need to recharge the battery. If you have to plug the battery in regularly, it impacts the printer’s overall portability.
Print quality is one of the most important considerations when buying any kind of printer, so we looked at documents printed by each machine under high magnification. Since you likely won’t compare sample documents side by side in person as you choose a printer, we suggest comparing their print resolutions, which is a good indicator of how much detail a printer can recreate in images. The higher the numbers, the better the resolution. Smaller, high-resolution printers usually cost more, so you may have to compromise on resolution and portability to find something in your price range.
We looked for printers that can standard-size, 8.5 x 11 documents, but the more flexibility you have in your paper choice the better. While all the printers we considered handle standard-size paper, watch for special paper requirements. For example, the Brother PocketJet 7 PJ723 uses thermal paper.
Manufacturers list printer speed in the machines’ specs, but we timed the models we reviewed to approximate their speed in real-world conditions. Based on what you’re using the printer for, speed may be important to consider.
Ink & media
You want to check to see what types of cartridges your inkjet compact printer uses. If it takes high-yield cartridges, you can usually shave off a few cents per page. Or you might consider a printer that uses thermal print technology like the PocketJet 7 PJ723, though the specialty paper these machines use comes at its own expense.
Pay attention to the printer’s regular output specifications, including the maximum number of pages the manufacturer suggests printing per month, called the monthly duty cycle. Regularly printing above this number can wear the machine down faster and cause damage, so make sure the duty cycle matches up with your needs.
Printers that connect to a variety of online storage and cloud systems are more useful, especially now that so much is stored digitally. Check to make sure you’re preferred cloud storage program is supported by your printer.
What smart features do compact printers have?
Over the past few years, the best compact printers have gotten a little smarter. Whereas printers used to be plugged into home computers to enable them to print, many now work wirelessly, and can even connect direct to smartphones and tablets to print direct from these smart devices.
Some compact printers can also print via voice commands, and many are now compatible with things like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. The HP OfficeJet 250 - our top overall pick - has this feature.
The fact that some printers are able to operate via a rechargeable battery makes them truly portable, and it enhances their smart WiFi features. In theory, a printer that has smartphone printing built-in, and operates via a rechargeable battery, could be taken to any location and used to print off documents from your phone immediately. Ideal for anyone who travels for work, for example.