When you buy one of the best compact printers you're getting more than just the ability to print documents. Sure, a small printer is definitely a vital part of any home office set-up, but it's also handy for everyday tasks and admin. While not all of them have the same functionality, most compact printers will print, scan, copy, and even fax, which is great if you have important documents to digitize, or you want to make copies of your documents for later use. And while fax may seem outdated, legal and medical professionals still rely on this kind of tech.
Shopping for any of the best compact printers is more of a challenge in 2021 than at any other time. Everyone wants a small printer at home now, as office use changes, so stock levels are lower and low-price deals are harder to find. So while our software will find you the best prices on all the compact printers listed below, you shouldn't expect too many savings, and some items will be out of stock. If this happens, keep checking back - stock seems to rotate fairly quickly.
You'll know what you need from your compact printer, but we'd advise you to consider things like print speed, print quality, and the cost of ink when you're making a decision. An efficient home office can be ruined by a slow printer, and if you're regularly printing or copying, you'll spend a surprising amount on ink. If you have space, any of the best all in one printers might be a quicker, more economical option. And if the cost of ink worries you, we have a guide to the best discount ink cartridge stores, to save you money.
In terms of nice-to-have features, most top-rated compact printers will have the ability to print wirelessly, to cut down on clutter, and most will connect directly to a smartphone and print from there, so you may not even need a computer or laptop to connect with.
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?
With the best compact printers you're paying extra for a number of things, so they work out more expensive than regular all in one printers. Not only are you paying for portability and wireless features, you also need to factor in the cost of batteries and replacement ink. What's more, stock is relatively scarce at the moment, so we've actually seen retailers increase the price of some printer models.
Compact printers start at around $100 for the budget models from reputable brands like HP and Canon, and they can run to about $500+ if you want the most feature-packed, or ultra-portable models.
We've been reviewing compact printers for years, and think that you'll get a decent model for around $200, which offers both portability and good quality printing, without the need to compromise on important features.
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.
What kind of ink do compact printers use?
Almost all the compact printers you see on our list are inkjet printers, which use cartridges as their primary source of ink. While you can get tank printers, which allow you to buy ink in bottles to fill a central reservoir in the printer, the smaller nature of these printers mean that most of them employ a cartridge system.
There are a few exceptions, though. The ultra portable BrotherJet Pocket actually prints without ink, as it impresses your document onto a special kind of thermal paper. While this may suddenly seem like a more cost effective option, be aware that thermal paper is expensive, and the print quality is both basic and very limited on printers of this type.
You don't tend to get compact laser printers, as the primary technology in them is ink, and laser printers are larger, more efficient models.