the top five printers for your dorm room.jpg

So you’re off to college or university, leaving home and high school behind for the challenge of post-secondary education. Naturally, you’ll be bringing some gear along with you, like your computer and maybe a stereo, game console or a TV. Don’t forget to include a printer in the mix! If you don’t have one already (or if the one you own has seen better days), I’ve put together a list of 5 of the best printers to take to your dorm room.

Why Bring a Printer?

use your printer to make t-shirts.jpgBefore we start the countdown, how about another top five list? The top five reasons why you should have a printer in your dorm room.

  1. Despite our “paperless world” we still need to print, students more so than most people.
  2. Shared printers on campus, or commercial printers off campus, mean rushing to get there before deadlines, line-ups and extra expenses.
  3. With your own printer, you quickly learn the settings for a perfect print job every time.
  4. A printer isn’t just for assignments, you’ll have it available to print off photos, flyers, banners or even iron on t-shirt decals (with the right print media).
  5. When everyone else is scrambling to get their essay printed, you can simply click “Print” and sit back to play a game.

So having a printer in your dorm room is a good idea. Now here are 5 of the best printers for the job.

HP Envy 7640 Wireless e-All-in-One Inkjet Printer

Hewlett-Packard’s HP Envy 7640 is a sure bet to cover off virtually any printing needs you might have. This isn’t a small printer, but as an all-in-one, it includes the ability to send and receive faxes and more importantly, to scan documents and images. That scanning capability isn’t just a good feature on its own (it is), but when you combine scanning with printing in a single device, you have a photocopier. And that can be very useful for students who have a lot of research to complete.

HPO Envy 7640 printer.jpg

Besides fast print speeds, crisp text and edge-to-edge high resolution colour printing capability, you can print directly to the HP Envy 7640 from a mobile device, or even print directly from a web service such as Dropbox or Google Drive. Plug-in’s Erin Lawrence tested the HP 7460 printer and has a detailed review of its capabilities.

Brother MFC9130CW Colour Wireless All-in-One Laser Printer

Brother wiireless colour laser printer.jpgI’ve had a Brother wireless All-in-One laser printer as my primary printer for the past three years and it has performed exceptionally well. 

The MFC9130CW is the model that replaced mine in the line-up, which means it has a few improvements—the display is now bigger, touchscreen instead of buttons and in colour, for one. Print speed is excellent, rated at 19 pages per minute, print resolution is good at 600 x 2400 dpi and it goes a long time between toner cartridges (the high capacity colour cartridges are rated at 2,200 pages). It supports a wide range of wireless printing access methods, including AirPrint, Google Cloud Print and Wi-Fi Direct, as well as direct printing from cloud services like Dropbox, Flickr, Facebook and SkyDrive.

In my experience, colour print output from a laser printer like this one is perfect for reports and charts and also suitable for photo images a student might want to include in a paper. What it isn’t as suited for is high quality photo reproduction—if you want high resolution, glossy photos that really pop, you’ll need an inkjet printer.

Epson ET-4550 WorkForce EcoTank Wireless All-in-One-Inkjet Printer

Why would you want a printer that bills itself as a “WorkForce” model in your dorm room? To start with, you certainly won’t go wrong with this printer’s features.

It’s an All-in-One, so you have fax, scanning and copying capability. It’s wireless, so your computer doesn’t have to be connected to it with a USB cable and it also supports printing from devices like smartphones and tablets. It’s ENERGY STAR rated for saving electricity–even though you won’t have to pay for power directly in a dorm room, it’s still important to play nice and conserver energy. It can do double-sided printing to save on paper and offers brilliant colour prints, plus up to 13 pages-per-minute of crisp black text.

Epson EcoTank printer.jpg

The real reason you’ll want the Epson ET-4550 WorkForce EcoTank Wireless All-in-One-Inkjet Printer is the “EcoTank” part of its name. 

Say good-bye to buying ink cartridges. This printer is equipped with massive capacity cartridges. Epson says they’re good for printing up to 11,000 pages of text and 8,500 pages of colour. Put another way, that’s the equivalent of roughly 50 standard inkjet cartridge sets, or two years worth of printing. 

Depending on your program length and your printing habits, it’s possible that with this printer, you may never have to buy a print cartridge during your entire post-secondary experience.  Read Ted Kritsonis’ detailed review to learn all about this printer.

Samsung Xpress M2020FVW Mono Laser Printer

Samsung Xpress Mono Laser Printer .jpgPrior to upgrading to a colour laser printer, I used a mono laser printer from Samsung. This Samsung Xpress M2020FVW Mono Laser Printer is ideal for students who don’t need colour.

It excels at printing fast (20 ppm), crisp text. It’s compact (with a footprint of just 33.2 x 21.5 cm), the toner cartridges last a long time and the 150 sheet tray means you don’t have to keep adding paper. For churning out printed text without any fuss, it’s tough to beat.

Despite the affordable price, it also offers Wi-Fi connectivity and AirPrint capability for direct printing from iOS devices.

Canon PIXMA MG3520 Wireless Inkjet All-in-One Printer

Canaon Pixma wireless AiO Printer.jpgFinally, a budget champ from Canon, the PIXMA MG3520 Wireless Inkjet All-in-One Printer.

Students who print a lot would be better served with one of the other printers on the list. But those who need to print the occasional term report or photos will find this PIXMA printer offers decent quality output. It’s not speedy or as accurate in colour reproduction as other models, but it’s extremely inexpensive.

And despite the low price tag, it still offers some nice features like Wi-Fi connectivity, AiPrint support, duplex capability and even a Quiet Mode (which room mates would certainly appreciate).

Once you choose a printer, be sure to read my post on how to get the most out of it. And don’t forget to check Plug-in for other back to school-themed posts, including the case for buying a traditional laptop, smartwatches for students and high tech dorm room essentials.

Brad Moon
Editor Computing solutions
I’m a long-time electronics and gadget geek who’s been fortunate enough to enjoy a career that lets me indulge this interest. I have been writing about technology for several decades for a wide range of outlets including Wired, Gizmodo, Lifehacker, MSN,, Kiplinger, and GeekDad. I’m in my 10th year as a senior contributor for Forbes with a focus on reviewing music-related tech, Apple gear, battery power stations and other consumer electronics. My day job is with the Malware Research Center at AI-native cybersecurity pioneer CrowdStrike.