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Which color laser printer is good for home use?

Selecting the right color laser printer for home use can be a daunting task. With so many models on the market with varying features and price points, it’s hard to know which one will best suit your needs. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the key factors to consider when choosing a color laser printer for personal or family use and provide recommendations of the top models in different categories.

What to Look for in a Home Color Laser Printer

Here are the main features and specifications to evaluate when selecting a color laser printer for home use:

  • Print speed – This measures how many pages per minute (ppm) the printer can print. For home use, a print speed of 15-25 ppm is generally sufficient.
  • Print quality – Look for models with at least 600 x 600 dpi print resolution for sharp text and vibrant color graphics.
  • Duty cycle – This refers to the maximum number of pages a printer can print per month without performance deterioration. Aim for at least 15,000 pages monthly duty cycle.
  • Paper capacity – The standard input tray capacity is around 250 sheets. Larger input trays requiring less frequent paper refills may be preferable.
  • Connectivity – Most home printers connect via USB or Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi provides more flexibility in printer placement.
  • Cost per page – The cost per page depends on toner prices and page yield. Lower cost per page is better.
  • Size – Consider the available space in your home and look for compact models if needed.

Recommended Color Laser Printers for Home

Based on the criteria above, here are our top picks for home color laser printers in different price ranges:

Printer Key Features Print Speed Monthly Duty Cycle Connectivity Cost Per Page
Brother HL-L3210CW Compact size, wireless connectivity, automatic duplex printing 19 ppm 15,000 pages USB, Wi-Fi 8 cents
HP Color LaserJet Pro M255dw Duplex printing, touchscreen control panel, wireless connectivity 21 ppm 30,000 pages USB, Ethernet, Wi-Fi 12 cents
Canon imageCLASS LBP622Cdw Automatic duplex printing, large color touchscreen, built-in wireless connectivity 22 ppm 30,000 pages USB, Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct 10 cents
Brother HL-L8360CDW High print speed, large paper capacity, automatic duplex printing 31 ppm 50,000 pages USB, Ethernet, Wi-Fi 7 cents
OKI C732dn Vibrant color printing, expandable input capacity, high monthly duty cycle 30 ppm 80,000 pages USB, Ethernet 9 cents

Budget Pick Under $200: Brother HL-L3210CW

If you’re looking for an affordable but reliable color laser printer for light home use, the Brother HL-L3210CW is a great choice with a street price around $170. Despite the low cost, it includes desirable features like wireless networking, automatic duplex printing for two-sided pages, and compact footprint. Print quality is sharp for both text and graphics. The main downsides are lack of an LCD screen and relatively low monthly page volume of 15,000 pages. But for low-volume family printing, the Brother HL-L3210CW delivers excellent value.

Overall Best Home Color Laser Printer: HP Color LaserJet Pro M255dw

For the best balance of price, performance and features, we recommend the HP Color LaserJet Pro M255dw as the top color laser printer for most home users. It prints at a brisk 21 pages per minute, can produce up to 30,000 pages per month, and has versatile connectivity options including wireless networking. The touchscreen interface is intuitive for completing print jobs. Duplex printing allows two-sided pages. Vibrant color graphics and crisp black text make projects pop. Cost per page is a reasonable 12 cents with HP toner cartridges. Downsides are lack of fax capability and limited input capacity. But the HP M255dw gets the formula right for a capable, mid-range home color laser printer.

Heavy Use Pick: Brother HL-L8360CDW

Home users with high print volume requirements should consider stepping up to the Brother HL-L8360CDW. This workhorse printer cranks out 31 pages per minute, even when printing in duplex mode. The monthly duty cycle is a hefty 50,000 pages, so it can handle heavy use over long periods. The 300-sheet paper capacity is expandable to 1,300 sheets with additional trays for fewer refills. Despite the robust specs, cost per page remains low at around 7 cents. The large color touchscreen simplifies operation and maintenance. The main tradeoffs are the higher purchase price and substantial size, but the Brother HL-L8360CDW eliminates bottlenecks for high-volume home printing.

Photo Enthusiast Pick: OKI C732dn

Users who regularly print high-resolution color photos at home should consider the OKI C732dn. It produces lab-quality color images up to 1200 x 1200 dpi resolution. The digital LED technology delivers rich, pigmented tones for photorealistic prints. An extra cyan toner cartridge provides expanded color gamut. The monthly duty cycle reaches 80,000 pages, ensuring reliability even with frequent photo printing. Weighing considerations are lack of wireless networking and relatively high cost per page of 9 cents. But the superior print quality makes the OKI C732dn a standout choice for photography buffs.

Key Factors for Evaluating Home Color Laser Printers

Here is a more detailed overview of the critical specifications and features to examine when shopping for a color laser printer to use at home:

Print Speed

Print speed determines how quickly you can get prints from your printer. It is measured in pages per minute (ppm) for both black and color prints. Most home color laser printers have speeds in the 15 to 30 ppm range.

Faster printers above 20 ppm are better for high volume printing. But speeds around 15 to 19 ppm are sufficient for typical moderate home use. Slower speeds below 15 ppm may lead to frustration when printing longer documents or multiple copies.

Print Quality

The print resolution, measured in dots per inch (dpi), determines sharpness and clarity. For color laser printers, look for a minimum resolution of 600 x 600 dpi for quality text and vibrant graphics.

Higher resolutions like 1200 x 1200 dpi deliver excellent detail for photographic images but are less critical for everyday document printing. Print quality also depends on the printer’s color reproduction technology and toner formulation.

Monthly Duty Cycle

The duty cycle indicates the maximum number of pages a printer can handle per month without deterioration in performance. Home printers typically have duty cycles between 15,000 to 50,000 pages per month.

Choose a higher duty cycle around 25,000+ pages monthly if you expect to use your printer frequently. Light users can opt for models with lower 15,000-20,000 page duty cycles.

Input Paper Capacity

Check the standard paper tray capacity, which is usually around 250 sheets for home color laser printers. Larger capacity trays reduce the frequency of having to reload paper. Expandable trays are also available on some models to boost capacity to 500+ sheets.

If you frequently print high volumes or multi-page documents, look for higher paper input capacity. Otherwise, standard 250-sheet trays are adequate for moderate use.

Connectivity

Most home printers connect via USB or Wi-Fi. USB connections directly plug into your computer and restrict printer placement. Wi-Fi provides wireless networking flexibility to place your printer anywhere within range of your home network.

Ethernet ports offer wired networking but are less common on home printers. Other connection types like Wi-Fi Direct allow direct wireless printing from mobile devices without a network.

Cost Per Page

The cost per page depends on the prices of replacement toner cartridges and their page yields. Mono lasers have lower costs per page, but expect color printing to cost 7 to 15 cents per page.

Check toner prices and yields for models you are considering. Lower cost per page means greater long-term value from your printer.

Size and Weight

Home office spaces vary, so consider the physical dimensions of the printer to ensure it will fit well. Color laser printers range from compact sub-15 lb models to larger 30 lb.+ machines.

If desk space is limited, look for a smaller, more compact printer. But larger printers offer greater paper capacities and duty cycles.

Other Conveniences

Other useful features that provide convenience and value include:

  • Automatic duplex printing for two-sided pages
  • Color touchscreen interfaces for easy operation
  • Support for mobile printing standards such as Apple AirPrint
  • Ability to print from cloud services like Google Drive and Dropbox
  • Extra toner cartridges for black printing to reduce cost per page

Conclusion

Finding the right color laser printer for home use requires balancing factors like print speed, monthly volume, paper capacity, connectivity, and cost based on your usage habits and space constraints. Our top overall pick is the HP Color LaserJet Pro M255dw for its excellent blend of performance, efficiency, features, and price. The Brother HL-L3210CW offers great value for lighter needs, while the Brother HL-L8360CDW is built for high volumes. For photographic printing, the OKI C732dn delivers superior image quality.

Taking the time to match your requirements with the printer’s capabilities will ensure you select a color laser printer that meets your home printing needs and provides years of service.