You Should Really Just Buy a Printer—Here’s The $120 One I’ve Been Happy With for 2 Years

published Sep 24, 2020
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Credit: Emma Fiala

As far as quarantine spending goes, a printer is one of the most practical, useful, and boring purchases you can make. But, hear me out: you should absolutely get one.

There wasn’t one singular event that made me finally break down and buy a printer a few years ago—though one particularly frustrating afternoon spent trying unsuccessfully to remember my Gmail password at a FedEx to download a single PDF attachment does stand out. But every now and then, I found myself having to spend a lunch break and $1.29 to print out a return shipping label, a work contract, or a script for a sketch class I was taking. And, frankly, it was kind of a pain in the ass. 

I’m honestly surprised at how useful it’s been having a printer in my life. And I’m not alone: on a recent episode of the podcast Gee Thanks, Just Bought It!, host Caroline Moss discusses the merits of having a printer for everything from work-related documents to your absentee voter registration ballot. And New York Times Smarter Living editor Tim Herrera estimates that having a printer “improves your overall life satisfaction by at least 40%.”

I have the wireless Brother Black-and-White Compact Laser Printer, which runs around $120. Laser printers have a leg up on inkjet printers—mainly that they use toner cartridges instead of ink, which cost more but last longer. Mine only prints with black toner—you’ll likely never need to print in color anyway. It’s also wireless, so I can shove it in a corner or a closet and print using WiFi without it taking up too much real estate in my tiny office. Plus, the upkeep is minimal: I’ve had mine for at least two years and have yet to replace the toner cartridge or run into operating issues.

You can probably find a good one on a local marketplace or resale site for cheap, but make sure you read reviews and snag one in good working condition, or you might still find yourself fuming in line at Office Depot. 

In the last month alone, I’ve used my printer to print Poshmark labels for items I’ve sold through the site, a health insurance form that could only be submitted via snail mail or fax (side note: are healthcare companies living in 1989?), and a gift certificate I slipped into a birthday card for a close friend. See what I mean? Random, but useful!

Of course, being eco-friendly is important, and it’s unlikely you’ll need to print things out daily or even weekly. But when you do? You’ll be high-fiving yourself over the fact that you can just hit “command+P” on your laptop menu, have what you need in seconds, and move on with your day.