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Back To School Printer Buying Guide Aug 13, 2012 08:58 by Matt Bird

If your kids are heading back to school shortly you need to be ready for the influx of homework and reports that are heading your printer’s way. If they’re all grown up and off to University then they’re going to need their own machine!

We’ve researched the top 3 recommendations for you, based on reliability, performance and running costs.

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Important note: We did not consider any printers that only take two cartridges (black and multi-colour).  These printers incur a lot of waste and are not particularly good value, even when cheap. Sorry Kodak!


Overall Top Rated Printer – Canon Pixma MG5350

For an all-round beast of a machine, it’s hard to find better value for money than the MG5350. For under £100 you’ll receive:

  • Wi-fi enabled
  • Amazing print quality
  • Scanner and Copier
  • Automatic double sided printing
  • User friendly device
  • Cheap to medium running costs
  • Lots of connectivity


This all-in-one printer is a monster of a machine for the price. The print quality is simply outstanding for a home inkjet, and if your back to school printer will also be responsible for printing holiday snaps you won’t be disappointed!

It’s no slouch with the work documents either, and couples reasonable running speeds with beautifully crisp black prints and awesome colour reproduction for any images or graphs in your work.

Printing through this machine is also a doddle, with USB, WiFi, card reader and PictBridge all available.

The printer takes 5 individual cartridges, the PGi-525 and CLi-526 Canon ink range, with a dedicated black for text printing plus four individual colours (black, cyan magenta and yellow) for images.

These cartridges are competitive to other genuine manufacturers when comparing Original cartridges (around £10 each), and if you decide to use our best-selling compatible ink for the Canon MG5350 you’ll halve that to £5 a cartridge which is just amazing value.

The only real drawback of this machine is you can’t print or scan if one cartridge is empty, and it uses some colour when printing black.

These are actually pretty common in most home inkjets on the market, so make a note of them, always keep a spare set of cartridges to hand and you’ll be okay. Trust us, the machine itself is worth it.


Willing to spend a bit more?

Upgrade this model to the award winning Canon Pixma MG6250 or Canon Pixma MG8150 for all of the above and more.

Not interested in a scanner?

Check out the less multi-tasking, but equally skilled brother of the MG5350, the Canon Pixma IP4950. You lose the wireless connectivity and scanning capability, but the quality and performance is still unrivalled for the price.



Best Value Work & Document Printer – Epson Workforce Pro WP-4025

Now, now, before you discount this printer because the cartridges look expensive, give us a chance to explain!

  • This printer is intended to be a rival to laser printers for running costs
  • Those cartridges provide significantly more pages than ones you’re used to
  • The quality of this machine is sickeningly good


Indeed, for the features you get for this machine it really is astounding how cheap it is to buy. For just over £100 you’ll receive:

  1. Low running costs
  2. Beautiful print quality
  3. Easy installation
  4. Airprint compatibility
  5. USB, Ethernet and Wi-Fi connectivity
  6. Double sided printing
  7. 330 page paper tray
  8. Amazing photo prints (in an office printer?!?!)


This machine will handle anything you throw at it, with reliable performance and fast printing speeds at a great low price. Its double sided printing is very quick for a home printer, and all the connectivity options make using it a breeze.

You’re looking at £35-£40 a cartridge for the extra high capacity Epson originals, or £22 each for our compatible versions. This sounds expensive, but when you compare the page yields to 3 top-selling cartridges in the home market, it is amazing value.

Ultimately, you’ll be replacing cartridges less frequently, in an easy to use machine that provides great prints. It’s a no-brainer for a family about to be ravaged by homework!


Willing to go laser?

Take a look at the Dell 1350cnw. It’s cheap to buy and cheap to run with our awesome compatible 1350 cartridges. You don’t get any fancy multi-function options, just a printer that works from the off and provides fast, easy, affordable printing.



Best Budget Student Printer – Epson SX435w

Epson are the masters of pure budget printers; giving cheap purchase costs and running costs without sacrificing print quality. This printer gives you:

  • A scanner
  • WiFi
  • Card reader
  • Great photo prints
  • Sleek design, 35% smaller than older Epsons

You can print pretty much anything with this machine and it all comes out looking great. Standard work documents will look clear and readable, and any graphs or images will jump off the page.

Photo prints are also snazzy, providing unbelievable quality for the price of the machine.

The running costs for the SX435w are pretty good with Epson cartridges, with the Epson Original T1295 cartridges competitively priced with other home printers. They’re not the cheapest, but they have a good capacity at an affordable price.

Hopefully you’ll never consider the Epson originals though, as the true budget benefits come when using our compatible T1295 inks. Not only do they contain more ink than the originals, but they’re cheap!

The cartridges work out at around £4 each when you buy the multipack, go and read the perfect reviews on their performance to get an idea of just how good they are.

These compatibles, in addition to the low buying price and reliable performance, make the Epson SX435w an absolute bargain.


Don’t fancy an Epson?

Try the HP Deskjet 3070a. It’s slightly more expensive to run, but provides equally good print quality and reliability, with the same connectivity and buy price. Bargain!



Considering Another Printer?

Ultimately, these three printers are only recommendations and there are lots of printers out there perfect for individual requirements.

If you want help with a great offer you’ve found, leave a comment below about what you print and why you think that machine is good, and we’ll let you know if it’s good for you.

Likewise, if you find any fantastic deals or pricing on these printers, comment below and help our other readers out!


Matthew Bird+ is “Printer Man” at, and writes the helpful articles you all love. When not writing about printers, he is dreaming about printers, and he is happy that way.

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