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When it comes to technology, more functionality doesn’t always translate into a better experience for the end-user. While color printers may seem inherently superior due to their ability to print in full color, black and white printers are the superior choice for many home office workers. Black and white printers are far less expensive to operate, and they often offer faster print and scan speeds than their color counterparts.
According to market research consulting firm IndustryARC manager Akshay Reddy, “The high cost of ink for color printers (two to three times as much as monochrome printers) has been a major proponent of this niche market for black and white printers […] The low-end home printer market will have a major demand for monochrome printers due to the lower ink cost per page. This cost difference is also prevalent in commercial printing applications where the price is a significant factor of consideration.”
Just because you opt for a monochrome printer doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice quality, either. Here are the best black and white printers for creating high-quality monochrome prints.
If you want an all-in-one printer that can serve multiple users, we recommend the Brother MFC-L2750DWXL (view on Amazon). It’s functional, reliable, and affordable to run. If you’re looking for a bare-bones printer that just prints, we recommend the HP Neverstop 1001nw (view on Amazon) because it’s quick, compact, and extremely affordable to operate.
Should I buy a black and white printer or a color printer?
Black and white printers are less expensive to own and operate because they only require one type of toner or ink to produce prints. If you mostly print word documents and spreadsheets, it’s worth considering a monochrome printer for home use.
Here’s a good rule of thumb: if your standard weekly business doesn’t require making full-color prints, you will probably be better off buying a black and white printer and utilizing third-party printing services for the odd color print. Third-party printers have access to commercial printers, which are much higher quality than home printers anyway, and the cost-per-print is not exorbitant if your color printing needs are modest.
What is a thermal printer?
Instead of ink or toner, thermal printers use heat to print on thermal paper to produce an image. Because these printers don’t have any ink tanks or cartridges, they can be extremely compact and have low, long-term operating costs. On the flip side, you must use thermal paper with a thermal printer or it won’t work, and thermal printers can be slower than inkjet or laser printers.
What is a tank printer?
Most inkjet and laser printers have cartridge systems where the ink or toner is inside a plastic cartridge. A tank printer uses internal tanks to hold ink or toner instead, which means the refill process is different. With a tank printer you typically buy a bottle of ink or toner and fill the empty tank. Bottles of ink and toner are far cheaper than cartridges, so the cost-per-print for a tank printer is usually drastically lower than even the most efficient cartridge printer.
There are also hybrid tank printers, which utilize both internal tanks for overflow ink storage and plastic cartridges. Hybrid tank printers save costs but aren’t as environmentally friendly as their cartridge counterparts, since they still require disposable plastic inserts.
Why Trust Investopedia?
Mona Bushnell is a former IT professional who spent several years servicing printers and scanners for an arts college in Boston. Following that job, she worked as a software admin for a large college in New York City. She’s been a writer for the past seven years, often testing and reviewing hardware and software, then making recommendations based on her experience.
Selecting black and white printers for consideration began with a quick review of the top manufacturer’s best-selling monochrome printers. Next, a detailed comparison of printer specifications was done, followed by a price comparison based on not only the sale price of the printer but also the ongoing operating costs. Several use cases were identified based on consumer printing needs and the winning printers were selected based on a combination of research gathered, industry opinion, and the author’s own domain knowledge.