As computing becomes more mobile and screen size and resolution increases, it may not be as important or even as practical to print as many documents and photos as we have in the past. However, there’s still often no good replacement for the convenience and readability of paper documents and printed images.
In this month’s PCMag Readers’ Choice Awards survey, we asked you to rate the printers that you use most often on a variety of satisfaction-related criteria.
Monochrome laser printers are a good choice for inexpensive, high-volume document printing if you don’t need color. Twenty percent of the printers rated were mono lasers. One in 10 were color lasers, which have speed and convenience similar to mono lasers, but with the added benefit of being able to print color graphics, text, and photos—albeit at a higher cost for the printer and printed page.
Of course, calling all of the rated products “printers” is something of a misnomer. More than three-quarters of the rated products are all-in-one devices with built-in scanners for scanning and copying. Some all-in-ones can also be used for faxing because, yes, apparently that’s still a thing.
Respondents told us that most of their printers (69 percent) were shared on a network allowing any networked computer and, in many cases, any smartphone or tablet, to print. Sixty-two percent of the networked printers were shared using the printer’s built-in Wi-Fi, while 23 percent used the printer’s wired Ethernet connection. Even if your printer doesn’t have networking built-in, you can still use the printer sharing built into your OS or your router; 10 and 5 percent of respondents with networked printers chose this option, respectively.
To better understand the different options in printing, read PCMag’s roundup of Best Printers. To best understand which brands of printers are consistently delivering the most satisfying experience to their customers, read on.
The PCMag Readers’ Choice survey for Printers was in the field from June 26, 2017 through July 17, 2017. For more information on how the survey is conducted, read the survey methodology.
Each person who completed the survey was entered into a drawing to win an Amazon.com gift card valued at $350.
You can win! Sign up for the Readers’ Choice Survey mailing list to receive invitations for future sweepstakes.
Looking for expert opinion? Read The Best Inkjet Printers of 2017and The Best Laser Printers of 2017.
Reader’s Choice Printers
Once again, as it has done every year since 2010, Brother wins the PCMag Readers’ Choice Award. It’s had a good decade.
The company’s formula is very straightforward, though apparently not so easily replicated by its competition: make easy to set up, reliable printers that produce excellent output and don’t cost a lot to operate. This year, many of Brother’s satisfaction ratings got even better—if only slightly—from the year before.
Brother received an overall satisfaction rating of 8.6 on our scale from 0 (extremely dissatisfied) to 10 (extremely satisfied). Only Xerox equaled that score, but neither Xerox nor any other company were nearly as likely to be recommended by users as Brother. Likelihood to recommend is a very important measure of customer satisfaction and Brother’s rating of 8.7 was half a point better than the three closest competitors: Xerox, HP, and Canon.
Brother also had the highest rating for ease of setup (8.8) and reliability (8.9); only Samsung had a smaller percentage of printers needing repair in the last 12 months. Two percent of Samsung printers needed repairs compared to 3 percent of Brother printers. Canon also had only 3 percent needing repairs. At the opposite end of the spectrum, 12 percent of Xerox printers needed repairs— although that’s a distinct improvement from last year’s 18 percent.
Respondents are rarely happy with the cost of their printers’ consumables (ink and toner), but Brother customers are more satisfied than customers of other brands, rating satisfaction with the company’s consumables at 6.4. No one else rated above 6.0. Canon fell below 5.0 this year to 4.7. On the other hand, Canon rated best for quality of photos printed using the company’s own consumables (8.4).
About a quarter of respondents turn to third-party consumables to save money. Brother also rated best in satisfaction with the cost of third-party consumables (8.3). With most brands and printer categories, less than half of respondents use third-party consumables, so we were surprised to see that 62 percent of respondents with Canon monochrome laser printers and all-in-ones don’t use the company’s toners.
Brother had the highest satisfaction with the quality of output for everyday documents printed using the company’s own consumables (9.1) and third-party consumables (8.7). Samsung also rated 9.1 for satisfaction with printing using its own consumables.
Canon’s technical support continues to generate the highest satisfaction marks, this year receiving a 6.9, down slightly from a 7.1 in 2016. Brother was right behind this year, rating 6.8. Epson’s support satisfaction ratings jumped up from an industry low of 5.6 last year to 6.6. HP, on the other hand, remains under 6.0 with a satisfaction with technical support rating of 5.8.
Brother’s dominance in printer satisfaction continued into many of our category groupings. It received the highest overall satisfaction rating for printers less than a year old (8.8), home printers (8.7), inkjet all-in-one devices (8.4), monochrome laser printers (8.9), and mono laser all-in-ones (8.8). Brother and HP were the only companies to receive at least the requisite minimum responses to be included in the color laser all-in-one category and they tied in overall satisfaction (8.4)—although HP had a slightly higher likelihood of recommending rating (8.5 to 8.4). HP also rated better than Brother in overall satisfaction in the color laser printer category (8.8 to 8.6).
A small number of respondents use a photo printer as their main printer. Our survey described a photo printer as a printer primarily designed to print pictures, not text. Only Epson and Canon had enough responses in this category. Epson rated substantially better in overall satisfaction (8.7 to 8.2) and likelihood to recommend (8.8 to 8.3), though clearly the reason for the difference was not the quality of the photo output. Both companies received excellent and identical ratings of 9.1 for satisfaction with the quality of photos printed on their photo printers.
See all of our survey results for printers.
Brother continues to fire on all cylinders, winning its eighth straight Readers’ Choice Award for printers. Nearly every way you slice it from overall satisfaction to satisfaction with reliability and the cost of inks and toners, Brother rates the best.