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The Best Printer Under $100

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By Mark Wilson, Esq. on April 02, 2015 7:02 AM

Paperless office? What paperless office? That promise is just as real as flying cars. Lawyers, especially, labor under the burden of ever-more paper, and even though some courts are (finally!) accepting electronically submitted materials, others still refuse.

For your home office, or even for your personal life, a printer is sadly still a requirement. With all the models out there, how can you know what's best? Well, that's where we come in: Here's our guide to the best printer under $100.

Inkjet or Laser?

Like paper or plastic, soup or salad, and Kirk or Picard, "inkjet or laser" is one of those eternal questions. (The correct answers, by the way, are paper, salad, and Picard.)

Inkjet printers may technically print in color, but the quality of a cheap inkjet is usually abominable, even at "high" quality. You're not going to get color laser or even expensive-inkjet quality out of an inkjet that's under $100, so dispel your fantasies now. Couple that with the fact that ink cartridges are criminally expensive (really, HP? Thirty bucks for a cartridge that will print only 800 pages?), and your answer is "laser."

For those rare instances where you need to print in color, go to Kinko's and pay 35 cents a page for decent quality. For your everyday home office, ink is just a hassle.

Features

Now let's talk about the features you want in a your laser printer. It's got to be wireless ready so you're not tethered to your desk (I myself do much of my work in front of the TV while "Gilmore Girls" reruns are playing; when will Lorelai and Luke realize they like each other?!). It's also got to have a built-in duplexer, which allows the printer to automatically print on both sides of the paper.

Ideally, it will also have a built-in, sheet-fed scanner. This, however, bumps the price up considerably on a laser printer. You've got to ask yourself what's more important: Cheap laser printing, or a scanner? I myself wrestled with this conundrum and chose the former. My decision was made easier by the existence of an iPhone app that takes a photo of a document with your phone then assembles it into a PDF, and can email it or upload it to your preferred cloud storage provider.

The Winner Is ...

The Brother HL-2340DW. It costs just $90 and is the number one best seller in Amazon's "laser computer printers" category. The "D" stands for "duplexer" and the "W" stands for "wireless," so it meets all the criteria. At 27 pages per minute, it prints documents quickly, and it has the added bonus of not taking up very much space: Its footprint is 14 inches square and it's 7 inches high.

If you absolutely have to have a sheet-fed scanner (which, admit it, is a really nice thing to have), you can spend $40 more to get the Brother DCPL-2540DW. But for basic printing? It doesn't get much better than the HL-2340DW.

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