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Best compact printers 2020

Best compact printer
(Image credit: Epson)

Getting one of the best compact printers can save you a load of space at home or in the office. Printers are a useful tool, but some of the bulkier models can take up a ton of space, so we’ve put together this guide showcasing small printers with compact designs. With advancing technology and more space-conscious consumers, there is a great selection of compact printers that are easy to move and don’t take up much desk real estate. You don’t have to give up print quality either, as some of these portable models have comparable print quality to their larger cousins.

Compact is a term that covers a wide range of printers though. If you’re looking for something ultra-portable - basically handheld - then there are a few options that you can look into. These compact printers are typically battery-powered, letting you use them on the go. These are ideal for those who travel regularly. There are also a range of compact printers that are still designed to sit on your desk, but that don’t take up much room. These are perfect for people with limited space, such as a small desk in an apartment.

We thoroughly tested the best compact printers on the market. We looked at the print quality by printing hundreds of documents and images. We also considered the size, form factor, design, and portability when comparing each device. In the end, we think that the HP OfficeJet All-in-One 250 is the best compact printer on the market today. The OfficeJet 250 offers a wide range of features, including a built-in scanner while still remaining light and compact. Alternatively, if you want something bigger, we’ve got a guide to the best all-in-one printers too.

1. HP OfficeJet All-in-One 250: The best compact printer

HP OfficeJet All-in-One 250

(Image credit: HP)

HP OfficeJet All-in-One 250

The best compact printer, with plenty of features and excellent print quality

Battery life: 500 pages per charge | Dimensions: 15 x 7.8 x 3.6-inches | Weight: 6.3lbs | Print resolution: 4800 x 1200 | Paper capacity: 50 sheets | Scan and copy: Yes | Connectivity: USB, WiFi and Bluetooth

Great performance 
Large paper tray
Prints, scans and copies
Expense compared to rivals
Heavy for a compact printer

The HP OfficeJet All-in-One 250 sits at the top of our best compact printer guide because not only does it come with a great set of features – it lets you print, scan and copy documents on the go – but in our tests it performed extremely well too, with very few ink- or feed-related errors. The print quality from this compact printer is truly impressive, rivalling that of many standard-size inkjet models, likely because it has a 4800 x 1200 dpi (dots per inch) resolution.

For a mobile printer, the OfficeJet 250 also printed quickly – eight pages per minute for black-and-white documents and seven pages per minute for color documents. As a bonus, it’s much quieter than other mobile printers as well. The machine uses a tri-color and black cartridge. Printers that use individual cartridges instead of tri-color ones tend to have lower ongoing ink costs, but this HP model also takes high-capacity cartridges, which can keep costs down.

In our tests, the printer’s copier and scanner also reproduced documents faithfully. With a scan and copy resolution of 600 x 600 dpi, text was easy to read. There was also a little color variance from the original documents. The only downside is that the scanner and copier can’t read double-sided sheets.

The HP OfficeJet All-in-One 250 is compact, but isn’t the smallest mobile printer available. However, even with its robust feature set, it only weighs just under 7 pounds with the battery attached and fits in a standard carry-on or backpack. The battery pack comes with the printer and holds enough charge to print 500 pages or to keep it working over a long weekend. You control all the printer functions with a 2.65-inch touchscreen on the front of the device.

You can use USB, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to send documents to the printer. The machine doesn’t directly support programs like Google Cloud Print or Apple AirPrint, but there’s an app you can download from HP that lets you print from your mobile devices. Overall, the HP OfficeJet All-in-One 250 is easily among the best compact printers you can buy.

2. HP OfficeJet Mobile 200: Best value compact printer

HP OfficeJet Mobile 200

(Image credit: HP)

HP OfficeJet Mobile 200

Excellent print quality and very portable, but with fewer features

Battery life: 500 pages per charge | Dimensions: 14.3 x 7.3 x 2.7-inches | Weight: 4.85lbs | Print resolution: 4800 x 1200 | Paper capacity: 50 sheets | Scan and copy: No | Connectivity: USB and WiFi

Excellent print quality
Costs less than our top pick
Has a long battery life
Can’t scan or copy
Not the lightest or smallest tested
Doesn’t work with Google Cloud Print or Apple AirPrint

The OfficeJet Mobile 200 is the less-expensive sibling of the HP Office Jet All-in-One 250 above (our top pick for the best compact printer). Like the fancier model, it boasts superb print quality for a mobile printer – sharing the same high print resolution (4800 x 1200 dots per inch) and print speed (about seven to eight pages per minute). However, the OfficeJet 200 doesn’t have a heavy copier and scanner weighing it down, which makes this compact printer both cheaper and easier to lug around.

At 14.3 x 73.32 x 2.7 inches, the HP OfficeJet 200 weighs less than five pounds if you use a cable to power it. With the included battery, it’s a little heavier, but it still fits easily into a bag. You can check the battery level anytime, and starting with a full charge, it can print up to 500 pages.

This compact printer has a convenient document feeder so you don’t have to stand nearby to load each page one by one. However, there’s no output tray to catch your documents, so you should use the OfficeJet 200 on a flat surface. When we researched ink prices, we found that each page printed with this machine costs about 21 cents. If you invest upfront in the high-capacity ink cartridges, you can save just over five cents per page.

Bear in mind that rather than having a touchscreen like the OfficeJet 250, the 200 has button controls. And while you can connect to the printer via USB and Wi-Fi, you can’t print over Bluetooth. However, if you can do without the bells and whistles of the 250, and you just want an excellent compact printer, the OfficeJet Mobile 200 is fantastic value and a brilliant choice.

3. Brother PocketJet 7 PJ723: Most portable printer

Brother PocketJet 7 PJ723

(Image credit: HP)

Brother PocketJet 7 PJ723

This highly portable printer sacrifices some features to be ultra-light

Battery life: 600 pages per charge | Dimensions: 10 x 2.2 x 1.5-inches | Weight: 1.34lbs | Print resolution: 300 x 203 | Paper capacity: Varies | Scan and copy: No | Connectivity: USB

Very lightweight 
Printed text is sharp and clean
Optional battery pack prints 600 pages per charge
Lower print resolution
Only prints in black and white
Thermal paper harder to find

Easily the most portable printer we tested, the PocketJet 7 PJ723 sacrifices some features to be ultra-light. Weighing just over a pound and with dimensions of 10.04 x 2.17 x 1.53, it can fit into a large pocket. Rather than having inkjet technology, which requires moving parts, the PocketJet 7 uses thermal technology to print. While this means you don’t have to purchase replacement ink, you can’t print in color with this device. 

Also, it can be hard to get your hands on the specialty paper it requires, which is similar to the receipt paper most stores use. You need to carefully select between long-lasting and regular thermal paper, depending on how long you want to archive documents, and it may be worth buying the kind that you can write on – because the surface is slippery, it can be difficult to write on normal thermal paper.

It's important to note that the battery isn’t included with the PocketJet 7 PJ723, but if you choose to buy one, it allows you to print up to 600 pages on a single charge. You can also by accessories, such as a car charger, that give you some additional flexibility. This thermal printer produces documents more slowly than our top picks, reaching speeds of about five pages a minute. You also have hand-feed the documents through the printer unless you invest in a roll or a fan-fold stack of paper.

The PocketJet 7 creates very sharp text, even with its low 300 x 203 dpi resolution. Because the device doesn’t use the most common printing technology you’re likely used to, you may find that your documents have a slightly odd smell.

This compact printer doesn’t have as many connectivity options as our top picks. You can only print from a laptop, and you can’t do so wirelessly. Because of these limitations, we don’t recommend this mobile printer for everyday use, unless you plan to print invoices for clients or have a similar use in mind. But if you're looking for a highly portable compact printer that's easy to carry with you, the PocketJet 7 PJ723 is well worth considering.

4. HP DeskJet 3755: Best scan and copy

HP DeskJet 3755

(Image credit: HP)

HP DeskJet 3755

A cheaper compact printer that scans and copies but isn't portable

Battery life: Mains power only | Dimensions: 15.9 x 7 x 5.5-inches | Weight: 5.1lbs | Print resolution: 4800 x 1200 | Paper capacity: 60 sheets | Scan and copy: Yes | Connectivity: USB and WiFi

Large paper tray means fewer refills
More affordable than others
No battery
Not portable

The HP DeskJet 3755 isn’t a mobile or portable printer. Instead, it has the all-in-one features, including a scanner and copier, you need for a permanent addition to an apartment or dorm room. Still, at 5.5 pounds, it’s easier to move and stash than other all-in-one inkjets, which can weigh up to 40 pounds. 

The DeskJet 3755 also has a larger paper tray than many of the compact printers we tested, so you don’t have to reload it as often. During testing, we noticed it created a few more print errors than our top pick, but it’s much more affordable. 

The scanner and copier work just fine, but because of the printer’s size, you feed documents through the machine instead of using a traditional flatbed scanner. If you need a compact printer that can scan and copy, the HP Deskjet 3755 is a solid pick.

5. Epson WF-100: Best for business

Epson WF-100

(Image credit: Epson)

Epson WorkForce WF-100

Cheaper, with great print quality and lots of connectivity options for professionals on the moved

Battery life: 100 pages per charge | Dimensions: 12.2 x 6.1 x 2.4-inches | Weight: 3.5lbs | Print resolution: 5760 x 1440 | Paper capacity: 20 sheets | Scan and copy: Yes | Connectivity: USB and WiFi

Built-in battery for easy charging
Many connectivity options
Slow print speed

The Epson WF-100 can print up to 100 sheets per battery charge. Our best compact printer can print up to five times more pages per charge – but the Epson WF-100 costs significantly less. And unlike some printers, its battery is included in the initial purchase, which saves you money. 

The Epson WF-100 is also smaller and lighter than many compact printers we tested, weighing only 3.5 pounds. It includes all the connectivity options business travelers need, and our testing revealed it has better-than-average print quality, though it prints slower than other compact printers. Both its print tray and cartridge capacity are functional, but we would’ve liked to see higher capacities for both features. However, those limited capacity increase the portability of this compact printer.

How we tested the best compact printers

Because portability is important to consider when choosing a mobile printer, we used hands-on tests to evaluate each machine’s weight and size, then assigned it a score. In addition, we researched each printer’s battery life and checked to see if the battery was included or had to be purchased separately, which affects the device’s value. Batteries that print a lot of documents on a single charge fared better in our comparison.

We examined hundreds of sample documents, dozens printed with each device we reviewed. During our tests, we printed the same samples on each machine and compared their output quality, looking for frequency of printing errors such as spotting, streaking or bleeding. In addition, we compared the machines’ print resolution side by side.

After looking at the machines' output quality, we assigned each one a grade based on its performance. Printers that produced readable test with some noticeable errors received a C grade, while with B grades performed about average with only a few errors. We reserved A grades for printers that create easy-to-read text with few to no errors. Most users won't be satisfied with a printer that earned a grade lower than a C. 

Ongoing ink or thermal paper costs are important to consider when buying a compact printer, so we noted which ones require specialty paper and which use standard 8.5 x 11 printer paper. We also compared the cost of ink for each printer we reviewed – we broke this information down to how much it costs per page to print with each machine so it’s easy to compare the long-term expense of owning each one.

Finally, we looked at the rest of the printer’s features, noting if it includes Wi-Fi and other connectivity options like USB or Bluetooth. Online support is essential for printers these days, and some printers connect to mobile devices with popular cloud programs, while others use proprietary apps. 

How much does a compact printer cost?

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 $75 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

Printer design
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. If you're printing pictures, we'd recommend one of the best photo printers to be sure.

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 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 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.