Printers are exactly the sort of slightly boring purchase that people love to save money on, because otherwise they're pretty hard to get excited about.
The good news is that you can usually find printer deals all year round, so read on to find out how to spot the biggest bargains and what to look for when buying a new printer.
Best printer deals right now
What to look for in printer deals
It’s important to keep in mind that the price of the printer is just the beginning. You’ll also need to consider ink costs, and check print speeds and photo printing capabilities too. Often what looks like a great value printer is actually an attempt to lock you into overpriced ink, so you might save money in the long-run by spending a little more upfront.
Most modern printers are multifunction all-in-one devices that can scan and copy documents in addition to your standard printing capabilities. Some include a fax machine, too.
You can find all the printers Tech Advisor has reviewed by category – choose from budget, laser, laser colour, inkjet and all-in-one models here.
Look out for Wi-Fi-enabled printers, as these are incredibly useful for when you need to print from mobile devices or a new laptop or PC. Also consider whether they have USB ports or memory card slots for easier photo printing.
There are lots of different types of printers available, which can make it really tricky to decide which is right for you. It’s worth first noting that the printer market moves very slowly, so the latest printer isn’t always the best.
Retailers and manufacturers throw around jargon when selling printers too. We've broken these down and gone through some of the key differences between features to help you decide which printer is best for you.
Inkjet vs Laser
One of the first considerations is deciding what type of printer you need. An inkjet printer sprays tiny dots of ink onto paper and are generally cheaper than laser printers (though you may pay more in cartridges in the long run).
Laser printers, on the other hand, use a powdered ink called toner. The paper gets electronically charged to attract the ink into position. It's then fused with heat onto the page. Laser printers work best for text and generally for printing quickly at high volume.
In terms of colour printing, inkjet printers can product high quality images but are usually slower. Colour laser printers, while faster than its inkjet counterparts are more expensive around the £130 to £200 mark to start.
On that note, ink cartridges are less expensive upfront, but more expensive in the long run, whereas toners are expensive upfront but last longer.
Inkjet printer inks: pigment vs dye
If you’re buying an inkjet printer, some brands may promote “pigment” inks. Standard inkjet printers use dyes, which is fully liquid. Pigment inks, on the other hand, are tiny particles of powdered inks mixed into a liquid base.
While dyes are absorbed by the paper, pigments build up on the paper’s surface in layers. This allows pigment dyes greater resilience to fading and smudging, but also make it more expensive. That said, there isn’t much of a difference in the actual print quality to the untrained eye.
It comes down to what you anticipate you will be printing more of. If you print photos, a pigment based printer may be better for you, as the prints should last longer. If you print documents, where the focus is on printing text and images – and not necessarily on the longevity of the prints – a dye-based printer should suffice. Dye-based inkjets may be ideal for students, for example.
DPI, PPM and IPM: What does it mean?
When looking at the description for any printer, you may be confronted with a series of acronyms. Some are self-explanatory, like PPI (pages per minute), while others are not as obvious. Here are a few key terms and what they mean:
DPI - Dots per inch - DPI describes the resolution of a printer based on how many dots fit in an inch of the print. A larger DPI accommodates more dots, which results in a sharper final image, but this also uses more ink. Typically, a 300 DPI is the standard for a good quality print (though higher DPIs are necessary for printing professional photographs).
PPM - Pages per minute - While this is self-evident, the PPM measures printing speeds at the rate of of A4 pages printed a minute. The fastest PPM usually measures speed at the lowest print resolution, however.
Laser printers typically have much faster PPM rates.
IPM - Images per minute -- this is another measure of speed. The difference between PPM and IPM is that the IPM is a standardized rating set by the International Organization of Standardization (ISO). This measures speed based on how fast a printer prints three standard test documents in one minute: MS Word, MS Excel and PDF. Each document is four pages long with a combination of images, graphics and text.
IPMs are more reliable than PPMs as individual manufacturers may test the print rate with varying amounts of content on a page. For example one may test the speed with only a few lines of text per page, while another may test with a combination of text and images. If you want to compare like-to-like, look for the “ISO PPM” rating.
For more advice on which printer to buy, visit our best printer 2019 round-up.
We’d recommend spending some time deciding which features you’re most interested in to make sure you pick up a printer that’s going to be able to do all of the things you need it to.
It’s also a good idea to set a budget and take a look at how much the type of printer you are interested in generally sells for. It has been highlighted in previous years that some retailers have put up their prices just before the big sale to make the deal seem even better, so do your research to make sure you don’t get tricked.
Where to find printer deals
We’re bringing you our carefully curated list of the best printer deals right here, but here are a few retailers you can check out for yourself for printer deals:
If you're hoping to catch one of Amazon's limited-time Lightning Deals, we'd recommend signing up for the 30 day free trial of Amazon Prime. Not only will this get you free next day delivery, but you'll also get access to Lightning Deals 30 minutes earlier than non-Prime members.
Where to find ink cartridge deals
Cartridges can be expensive in the long run, but you can score a deal if you know where to look. Aside from checking the retailers mentioned above, there are a couple other places worth looking. It's also well worth experimenting with third-party cartridges which can work out at a fraction of the price. We've had good success with third-party toner from Amazon and ebay.
Groupon often has discounts popular brands such as HP, Canon and Epson. See its cartridge deals here.
eBay is another place to check, though ensure you buy from an authorized reseller or a trustworthy source with a strong track record of positive reviews and ratings. See cartridge deals on eBay here.
Best printer deals
1. Canon Pixma TS5050
Now: £59.97 (50% off)
The Pixma TS5050 will print, scan and copy. And at this price it's a great deal.
2. HP Envy 5010 All-in-One Printer
Now: £39 (£20.99 off)
This deal also includes a year's worth of ink!
3. Epson Expression Home XP-352
Now: £42.00 (40% off)
The XP-352 is a step up from the entry-level inkjets you'll find, boasting a small colour screen and individual colour inks so you never have to throw away unused ink. It's a good deal at this price.
4. Canon Pixma MG2550S All-In-One Printer
Now: £24.47 (46% off)
All-In-One colour printer, scanner and copier. Prints documents and photos. Although it say it's Windows compatible you should have no difficulty getting Mac drivers from Canon's website.
5. HP Deskjet 2630 All-in-One Printer
Now: £34.99 (£15 off)
This compact HP inkjet printer can print, copy and scan. It comes with a 3 month trial of HP instant ink - which re-orders ink so you have it when you need it.
6. Canon Pixma MG5750 All-in-One Inkjet Printer
From: Currys PC World
Now: £59.99 (£40 off)
Compatible with Apple AirPrint and Google Cloud Print, this inkjet printer can also scan and copy.