Best Color Printer for Teachers

June 17, 2020

Best Color Printer for Teachers

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In our modern-day, being a teacher means going beyond the job description and providing an experience for students they won’t soon forget. Many times, creating this in-classroom experience means providing your supplies, including color printers.

Best color printer for teachers at a glance

  1. Epson EcoTank ET-2720 Wireless Color All-in-One Supertank Printer with Scanner and Copier
  2. Our choice: HP OfficeJet 3830 All-in-One Wireless Printer, HP Instant Ink 
  3. Canon PIXMA TS9520
  4. Brother HL-L3270CDW
  5. Brother MFC-J995DW InkvestmentTank Color Inkjet All-in-One Printer

With budget cuts and shortages, many school districts now require teachers to have their color printers in the classroom. Uniquely since limits are being placed on the number of copies that can be made in faculty wide-machines. Given the amount of printing, a single teacher can do in a given day, finding the best color printer for the job matters.

While there are a myriad of color printers available on the market, most of them are not suitable for the rigorous use of a classroom environment. Others are simply too expensive to operate daily due to overwhelming ink costs or fundamental inefficiencies. To help to find the best color printer a bit easier, we’ve rounded up a few of the best color printers for teachers below. We also included a buyer’s guide to help you on the path to finding a color printer that will bring your classroom curriculum to life.

Best Color Printer for Teachers

Epson EcoTank ET-2720 Wireless Color All-in-One Supertank Printer with Scanner and Copier

In the classroom, one of the most expensive aspects of operating your printer is the ink. Whether you’re printing worksheets or activities, an ink-efficient printer is paramount in keeping costs low while maintaining quality. This is where the Epson EcoTank ET-2720 shines. There are a lot of great things about this printer, but the best maybe that it comes standard with a whopping two-years worth of ink. That means you can print around 4,500black/white copies and 7,500 color copies without having to swap out the ink cartridges.

Epson promises that this can save teachers up to 90 percent with low-cost replacement ink bottles versus traditional ink cartridges. Not only does this amount to less out-of-pocket cost (you’ve already got plenty of that), but it also means less waste. One set of the eco tank replacement bottles is equal to about 80 individual ink cartridges. No messy ink-swaps and less cost. That’s a win-win.

Another thing that makes the Epson EcoTank  ET-2720 printer one of the best color printers for teachers is that it is a genuinely wireless unit. You can print with ease from any device. We enjoyed being able to open an email or PDF directly on our smartphones and printing without a computer. Not only does this broaden your print-options, but it can be a huge time-saver when you’re already dealing with a busy classroom.

Despite being a scanner and copier, as well as a full-color printer, the unit also boasts a space-saving design perfect for classroom desks or file cabinets. With integrated front-facing ink tanks and a premium finish, the printer looks good and works exactly as promised.

Pros:

  • Eco-tank efficiency with 2-years worth of ink
  • Compact space-saving design 
  • Multi-function with copier and scanner
  • Wireless printing capabilities 

Cons:

  • Wifi signal can prove spotty. 

HP OfficeJet 3830 All-in-One Wireless Printer, HP Instant Ink 

One thing that is true of most classrooms is the lack of space. Despite often being rather spacious areas, desks, activity centers, and general projects take up much of what space a classroom has to offer. It doesn’t leave much left over for your things or extras. When it comes to the best color printer for teachers, a space-saving design can be paramount. The HP OfficeJet 3830 comes in as one of our top picks due to its unique space-saving design. It is perfect for your desk at school.

Though compact, the HP OfficeJet 3830 does not skimp on power or specifications. Not only does the HP offer laser-quality documents and lab-quality photos, but you can utilize the HP Smart app to set up your printer and work directly from your smartphone. That’s right; you can order toner, ink, and print from the cloud with ease. Should you need to print something in your room while teaching a lesson, the optional quiet-mode allows you to do just that without disrupting your lesson.

Though not quite as ink efficient as the Epson EcoTank, the HP does come with four free months of ink and does qualify for HP Instant Ink. It means the printer itself can keep track of just how much ink is left in the unit and then automatically order more when getting low. That’s one less thing for you to have to think about. Convenient when you’re already dealing with more than a dozen school kids. 

One thing we truly loved about the HP (aside from the size of course) is that the printer is wireless and serves as a fax machine and copier. It also has a handy touchscreen, which is responsive and easy to use. Whether you’ll be using the printer at home or in the classroom, this compact unit should check plenty of boxes. 

Pros:

  • True compact space-saving design
  • Wireless functionality with app 
  • HP Instant Ink compatible
  • Laser-quality documents and lab-quality photos

Cons:

  • HP app is only available on a few platforms.
  • Ink installation can be tricky. 

Canon PIXMA TS9520

Whether for home use or in the classroom, the Canon Pixma TS9520 is every teacher’s dream. The Canon PIXMA is a high-quality printer that was built for printing colorful photos and vibrant color-rich designs. Whether printing worksheets, craft projects, or digital artwork, this is a printer that can bring your ideas to life while engaging those in the classroom with ease. What makes this an option for the best color printer for teachers?

Aside from offering vivacious color-rich prints, the Pixma TS9520 is also a capable all-in-one device that can tackle a variety of projects. With wide paper format support, it can also print a range of projects up to 11″ x 17″. You can also choose to print even larger designs with total ease. It is great for creating classroom banners, posters, or even new project ideas. The ability to size different projects from the printer unit is unique and something we were thoroughly impressed by.

Of course, one of the most exciting features of the Canon Pixma is the innovative 5-ink system. Typically, a printer will offer four inks. However, the fifth ink can help in achieving a higher contrast in photos and graphics. Unfortunately, such high-quality prints will lead to an uptick in ink cost. You will not get the ink efficiency that you’re granted with the Epson EcoTank. Despite this, the Canon Pixma still stands worthy of your classroom.

With an intuitive user interface, complete with a 4.3″ LCD screen, you can easily facilitate one-touch printing without hassle. The added scanner/copy function also makes this a great all-in-one printer to tackle a variety of classroom needs. Additionally, you can print from the Canon via wifi, Ethernet, or a standard USB connection. It also provides an SD card option should you want to connect the printer with a different external device.

The Pixma TS9520 is a smart printer that is also compatible with all voice assistant apps, including Alexa or Google.

Pros:

  • 5-ink system for colorful prints/copies
  • Voice assistant enabled 
  • Several print connectivity options
  • Ability to size projects right from the LCD screen

Cons:

  • Print unit is quite large for a classroom desk

Brother HL-L3270CDW

As a teacher, time is everything. Between lesson plans and curriculum demands, you’re often stretched pretty thin for time. That means you probably don’t want to spend a lengthy amount of time standing around your printer. The Brother HL-3270CDW ensures that you won’t have to. It is a fast device that can quickly cater to your printing needs with efficiency and ease. If you’re someone who prints lengthy packets, worksheets, games, or assignments, this printer will make your life easier.

As a full-color digital printer, the Brother HL-32370CDW has a fast-printing option that can garner up to 25 pages per minute. That’s almost double the standard yield on a printer such as the Canon Pixma TS9520. While you may think that speed will equal a prior print-quality, think again. What we loved about the Brother is that the print-time never compromised the quality. Every print was professional-quality with rich, vivid colors that could rival any laser printer. Perfect for a classroom with high color ink demands.

Another thing that Brother does right is the option for versatile paper handling. As a teacher, productivity is everything, which is why this feature is so important. The versatile paper handling helps to minimize the need for constant paper refills with a generously sized 250-sheet paper tray, which can be adjusted for paper type. There is also a manual feed slot that can easily handle paper types such as card stock, envelopes, or even photo paper. This printer is a game-changer for elementary school teachers.

One more thing we enjoyed about the Brother HL-L3270CDW is the print and connect your way feature. The unit offers mobile wireless printing as well as built-in wireless printing capabilities. You can also print via Ethernet, wifi, or a standard USB port. Additionally, you may print from cloud apps directly from the included 2.7″ color touchscreen. While the unit is pricier than most, you will find the quality is hard to beat.. 

Pros:

  • Fast-print technology for 25 pages/minute
  • Professional-quality prints and photos
  • Print from wifi, USB, Ethernet, or cloud
  • Versatile paper handling function

Cons:

  • The unit is quite large for a desk space.
  • color mixing can be off at times.

Brother MFC-J995DW InkvestmentTank Color Inkjet All-in-One Printer

Unlike other professions, teachers face a variety of unique printing needs. It isn’t just about printing documents or memos; it is about printing items that are integrated into lesson plans, projects and at-home work. That’s why every teacher needs a printer that can handle small and medium printing needs with total ease. We found the Brother MFC-J995DW Color Inkjet to be one of the best printers for the job.

Aside from offering a fast printing speed of 12 pages per minute, this super tank printer reduces the overall cost of printing. The printing cost per page is just 1 cent in monochrome and 5 cents for color prints. Compared to other printers of this calibre and size, that’s quite a steal. The innovative Inkvestment Tank system includes reconfigured standard ink cartridges that hold a greater volume of ink and work in tandem with an internal storage tank to deliver uninterrupted printing with lower ink usage. Since teachers already have to pay so much out of pocket, this is a win.

Speed and ink aside, one of the best parts of the Brother MFC-J995DW is its overall connectivity and functionality. This printer includes a flatbed scanner along with a 20 sheet automatic document feeder. It means you can feed around 20 sheets of documents into the unit at a time without hassle. The unit also features a fax modem, which is rare in modern printing devices, but can be handy if you’re needing to communicate with parents or administrators following old-school protocol.

We also enjoyed that this is a true duplex printer with the capacity to print on both sides. For creating worksheets and school packets, this can help to save a lot of paper and cut down on packet bulk. In terms of connectivity, you can print using wifi, standard USB, wifi direct, or Ethernet. The unit also sports a one-touch NFC connection for easier print usage. 

While pricier than the Canon Pixma or the Epson EcoTank, the Brother does hold as a candidate for the best color printer for teachers in terms of functionality, features, ink-quality, and ease-of-use. 

Pros:

  • Able to print 12 pages per minute
  • INKvestment technology for lower ink usage
  • Scanner, copier, and fax functionality 
  • Several connectivity options for easy printing

Cons:

  • Scanner clarity can be spotty.
  • The device can be quite loud when printing. 

The Best Color Printer For Teachers Buying Guide

Despite rounding up options for the best color printer for teachers, we know that finding the best printer isn’t always as simple as reading a review. We’ve rounded up a few tips and tricks for finding the best color printer and getting it right the first time.

Identify Your Needs

It isn’t exactly a well-kept secret that teachers print often and frequently. While there is always the option of using a breakroom printer or copier, that can quickly become inefficient and annoying. Buying your own classroom printer is a simple way to print what you want, when you want without having to answer to higher-ups or nosy colleagues. With so many printers on the market, finding the right one for your classroom is often easier said than done.

With that said, the first step to finding the best color printer is identifying your personal printing needs. To get started, ask yourself a few key questions:

How frequently do I need to print? Knowing just how much you plan on printing can help guide you towards a more efficient model that will suit your needs.

How much do I want to spend on ink? Some units simply use more ink than others. Additionally, some inks cost more than others. Keep that in mind.

Is color printing a priority? If you don’t plan on printing in color, a more affordable monochrome printer may do the job.

Do I need a scanner and copier? If you find yourself making plenty of copies or scanning documents, you may want an all-in-one device.

Do I need to print wirelessly? Wireless printing can make it easy for you to print from your phone, laptop or tablet without messy wires.

Once you have your printer expectations in mind and have identified your needs, you can start to narrow down your options. After all, an elementary school teacher will likely have different needs than a high-school math teacher. Luckily, there are affordable and quality printing options for both. 

Choose Between Inkjet and Laser

Another thing to consider when searching for the best color printer for teachers is what type of printer you’d like to have on hand. Typically, you will come across two key types of printers: inkjet and laser. There is also the option for a digital printer, but those are not quite as common or affordable.

What’s the difference between an inkjet and a laser printer?

Inkjet

As a teacher, you probably need to print a combination of text, graphics, and photos for worksheets or handouts. If this is true for you, an inkjet may be the way to go. An inkjet printer can tackle just about any printing project and can excel at photos when compared to similar laser printers. However, reliability and owner satisfaction ratings can be lower for inkjet printers, often because they are not made with the same quality of parts as a laser printer.

Another thing to consider is the speed of output. Many inkjet printers are capable of sewing about 18 black-and-white pages a minute, but can be much slower for color photos. The exception being the Brother models listed in our reviews. Cost is another thing to keep in mind. The cost of printing a single 8×10 photo on a standard inkjet printer can range from 50 cents to $2, where a black-text page can fall between 2 and 10 cents. However, models such as the Canon EcoTank are quickly solving this problem with efficient ink usage even for colorful photos.

Laser

If you’re the type of teacher who only prints text documents, a laser printer probably makes more sense for you. Inkjets are better at handling photos and graphics, but laser printers are more capable of producing sharp text. A few models can do well with color type and graphics. Still, a majority of laser printers are not ideal for printing photos. Even models that are designed to print in color may struggle to use glossy photo stock or specialty papers such as cardstock.

Another thing to keep in mind is that laser printers cannot typically accommodate different sized papers such as 4×6 or smaller cards. Where a laser printer may be ideal is that they can outperform most inkjet models in terms of speed. They can easily crank out text pages at a rate of 25 pages per minute. Additionally, data shows that laser printers do tend to be a bit more reliable than their inkjet counterparts. 

Do You Want to Scan and Make Copies?

When looking for the best color printer for teachers, it is important to keep in mind whether or not you want to scan and make copies. Much of the teaching profession requires making copies almost daily. Scanning in book pages or other documents can also be pretty standard. Ask yourself if this is something you want to be able to do from your printer or if you’re fine with utilizing the faculty copier/scanner. If you do want to scan and make copies, there’re a few things to consider. 

Regular

If you don’t want to scan or fax, you can stick with a standard regular printer. The only function of this printer is to print. If you need to copy, scan, or fax, you’ll have to seek out a separate machine to perform each task. While limited on functionality, regular printers are much cheaper than all-in-one printers. If budget is a concern and you don’t scan or copy often, you can likely get away with a standard regular printer. 

All-in-One

If you do find yourself dreading long lines at the copier or scanner, you may want to pick up an all-in-one for your classroom. An all-in-one printer provides scanning, copying, and faxing functionality. Many all-in-ones cost a bit more than standard printers, but not so much that you’d notice a big jump. Additionally, they are still quite compact and can easily fit on a desk or filing cabinet system.  It is important to keep in mind that many all-in-one printers do boast fewer features than standalone machines. If you need to do sophisticated scanning or copying, you may want to invest in a standalone machine instead. 

Things To Consider When Buying A Printer for the Classroom

When buying a color printer for the classrooms, there are a few things to consider before you choose the right printer for you. Remember, not every printer will suit every teacher’s unique needs and teaching styles. Consider these things, and you should end up with a printer you can rely on long-term.

Budget

Given the out-of-pocket costs, many teachers endure, it can be tempting to go with the cheapest possible printer for the classroom. However, with printers, you do often get what you pay for, especially in terms of ink. Believe it or not, many of the cheapest printers have the most expensive ink. This is how these manufacturers make a bulk of their money. Before you buy any printer for the classroom, make sure that the price of the replacement ink cartridges is affordable and in line with other models at that price.

It is also worth investigating whether or not you can pick up off-brand ink cartridges on Amazon for your printer or whether you can refill your ink cartridges. Not every printer model will take off-brand ink, but many will. Know that using off-brand inks may void your warranty.

Type of Ink

One thing to keep in mind when searching for the best color printer for teachers is the type of ink your printer will take. Generally, there are three common cartridge configurations: two ink cartridges (black and all-in-one color), four ink cartridges (a black cartridge, and three separate cartridges for color, and inkwells (the printer draws ink from large wells). It is important to note that some companies are also premiering five ink cartridges.

Print Quality

No one wants to pick up a printer for the classroom only to find that the print quality is abysmal. An inkjet printer will work best if you’re planning on printing color photos or graphics in addition to plain text. A laser would do well with text-only prints. Of course, several things can affect a printer’s overall print quality. These include the printhead design, the driver, and the quality of the ink. However, the main thing to look out for is the printer’s DPI or dots per inch ratio. It will tell you exactly how accurately a printer will replicate the pixels of a given image. 

Print Speed

If you do a lot of printing (what teacher doesn’t), you’ll want a printer that can easily expel dozens of pages in a few minutes. Printer speed is generally measured in pages per minute. A printer will have different PPM speeds depending on the number of text pages and image pages in a stack. When you see a PPM rating on a printer at the store or online, it refers to how many pages of plain black text a printer can produce in one minute.

Wireless Connectivity

Another big thing to consider is wireless connectivity. Ask yourself where you would like to print from and what devices you are going to print from most often. Every printer offers wired connectivity, but not every model will offer wifi or Bluetooth connectivity. If you plan on printing from your smartphone or tablet, you’ll want a printer with wireless connectivity options.

Paper format

Finally, you’ll want to keep paper format in mind. Not every printer can easily accept legal-sized paper. In the same vein, scanner beds on some all-in-one printers are too small for legal documents. You’ll also want to consider whether or not you’ll be printing on unusually sized paper quite often. It is something elementary school teachers or those who print projects will need to consider when vying for the best color printer for teachers.

Best Color Printer FAQ

Q: Is a multi-function printer really necessary?

In some ways, a multi-function printer can be necessary in the classroom as it eliminates the need to spend time in the faculty lounge using the copier or scanner. It can also deliver the most bang for your buck in terms of a printer. Of course, if you’re not someone who makes many copies and never scans, you might find that you don’t want to invest in an all-in-one-printer and would rather utilize the school’s device when the need arises. A multi-function printer is not necessary for every teacher, but some may revel in the convenience and freedom it can bring. Not to mention the time they won’t have to wait in line at the faculty room.

Q: Are all printers capable of photo-quality printing?

The capacity to print photo-quality pages is ideal for many teachers. However, not every printer is capable of photo-quality prints. While inkjets do produce better photo-quality prints than laserjet printers, not every inkjet printer is adept at doing so. Generally, you’ll want a mid-to-high-end inkjet printer of photo-printing is a priority for you. While lower-end inkjet printers can still print photos, you will find that the colors are not as vibrant and that the images are not very high-quality. Still, you can get away with decent photos on any inkjet printer.

Q: Is a full-color printer the only option?

For teachers, we often focus on full-color printers because they can cater to the wide range of needs that exist in the classroom. However, a full-color printer is not the only option. Depending on how you intend to use your printer at school or home, you could save a few bucks by going with a monochrome printer that only prints black and white images or text. Not only are monochrome printers more cost-effective, but the cost of replacing ink is much lower, as you only need black and not the full-color spectrum. This type of printer can be ideal for math teachers or even English teachers who are not generally printing photos or graphics in great detail. 

The Bottom Line

Finding the best color for printers for teachers often depends on your unique needs, wants, and teaching style. There are so many printers to choose from, but not all of them will work for every type of teacher.

Elementary and intermediate teachers will do best with color-rich inkjet printers with all-in-one capabilities. They should also look for printers that can cater to a variety of paper sizes.

High school and middle school teachers may be able to get away with more basic printers or even laser printers that cater to text-only documents.

Finding the best color printer is easy, as long as you know what you need and keep our buyers’ guide in mind. 



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