The 4 Best Compact Printers

by Tiana Crump

Whether you're dealing with a small home or office, don't plan on using it all that often, or are just in need of a portable printing option, the best compact printers will reliably get the job done without taking up a bunch of space. The best small printers come in a wide range of price points, so it's important to balance versatility, efficiency, and printing quality with how much you're willing to pay.

The first thing to consider is whether you want an inkjet printer or laser printer. Inkjet printers are more likely to be compact, and they're better for photos and color documents. However, they are typically slowly and the ink cartridges need to be refilled often, which can get expensive. Laser printers, on the other hand, tend to be bulkier, but they print much faster than inkjet printers and the toner cartridges don't need to be refilled as often, so you might save money over time.

If you're in need of greater functionality — think things like copying, scanning, and color printing — you'll likely be looking at a pricier model. More expensive picks are also more likely to be USB-chargeable, so they're great for portable printing without even needing a wall outlet around. But if you don't plan to be using your printer all that often, it's totally possible to get away with a more affordable option that doesn't have all the bells and whistles but still offers reliable results.

Without further ado, here’s my roundup of the best compact printers. And if your main objective is to print photos, I’ve also included a palm-sized option that turns out stunning results instantly.

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The Best Compact Printer, All Things Considered

Compact, versatile, and portable, the HP OfficeJet 250 is my top pick for best compact printer. With this printer, you can make copies, scan, and print up to 10 pages per minute in black and white and 7 pages per minute in color. It's USB-chargeable for mobility, and Wi-Fi-enabled, so you can print wirelessly from all of your devices via the HP app. The 50-sheet capacity printer has a color touch screen for easy operation, but does not support simultaneous two-sided printing. Boasting impressive 1200-dots-per-inch resolution (300 is standard), it has a wide range of photo-printing size options, as well as a borderless printing mode that's ideal for reports and projects when you want to print from edge to edge.

  • Size: 15 by 8 by 4 inches

A fan wrote: “I work on the road and need a reliable, fast but small printer with scanner. This little baby is well worth the money, it copies, scans and prints in B&W and color and the color is pretty darn good too!"


The Runner-Up: A Cheaper, Faster Option If You Don’t Need Color, Scanning, Or Copying

This compact laser printer isn't quite as small or tricked out as the above option, but it supports simultaneous two-sided printing, and at 32 pages per minute black and white, it's three times as fast, making it a fantastic option if efficiency is your goal. This affordable pick has Wi-Fi, so you can print from multiple devices wirelessly, but the printer does need to be plugged into a wall outlet. And keep in mind: The printer only prints in black and white, and is not capable of scanning or copying. Weighing 15 pounds, it's heavier than the other options, but has an extra-high 250-sheet capacity. Plus, since it's a laser printer, you don't have to change toner cartridges as often as with inkjet ink.

  • Size: 14 by 14 by 7 inches

A fan wrote: “Great product. Set up in minutes. I just pressed the WiFI button on the printer and the WPS button on my modem - and the printer recognized it instantly. Looking forward to saving $$$ by not having to buy inkjet cartridges.”


The Best Budget Color Printer

This wallet-friendly small inkjet color printer is Wi-Fi-enabled to work with your computer, phone, or tablet. A bit slower than the first inkjet option, it can print 8 pages per minute in black ink and 5.5 pages per minute in color. At 600 dpi, it offers half the resolution of the top pick, but it can still copy and scan. The 6-sheet capacity printer does need to be plugged into a wall outlet to operate, but of course — it's quite a bit cheaper, so it's a worthy option if you're looking for versatility at a low price.

  • Size: 16 by 7 by 5.5

A fan wrote: “I love this printer. It is very compact which is why I purchased it. The color is great too. It prints at a decent speed. For a home office/kids school work printer, you can't go wrong."


The Best Compact Photo Printer

For strictly printing photos, this Polaroid mini portable printer is a top pick with consistently high ratings. The USB-chargeable printer connects via Bluetooth to your smartphone or tablet to print your photos directly from your device or a social media account. There’s even an option to edit images by adding stickers, filters, borders, and more. The printer’s pocket-size design makes it super portable. There're no replacement ink or toner cartridges — the camera uses specialized ZINK photo paper to automatically heat activate the color crystals that create your photo. The printer comes with a 10-pack of paper to get you started but you'll eventually need to buy more.

  • Size: 3 by 5 by 1 inches

A fan wrote: “This is a really fun little printer! The print quality is good and suited for the purpose of instant photo gratification. You can edit photos to your heart's content in the app prior, and because you are using your phone camera, the picture quality/zoom/colors come out nicer than with a point and shoot instant camera. The paper is more economical than other instant camera options, around $22 for a 50 pack of paper.”