Chances are, you aren’t in the market for a printer—it’s one of the longest lasting product categories in tech, and with a modicum of care, a printer can seemingly last forever.
But if you’re ready to upgrade, or COVID-19 work-from-home requirements mean you can no longer rely on the printer at your office, there’s only one printer brand PCMag readers recommend again and again.
You read that right, a dozen years. This Readers’ Choice survey has become a love letter from PCMag readers to Brother International. If there’s any knock against the company in the results it’s that Brother’s 8.9 out of 10 high score for overall satisfaction from last year has dropped—but only by a tenth of a point to a still-stellar 8.8. As knocks go, that’s the faintest ever heard.
Look across the categories we ask readers to rate, and Brother is on top in almost all of them. Standout scores include a 9.0 for reliability, 8.9 for paper handling, 8.8 for ease of use, 9.0 for copier functions (when the unit is a multi-function, aka all-in-one device), and an 8.9 for the likelihood to be recommended to others.
Dell’s second place showing shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s a nice bump up from third place last year, when Samsung was the runner-up. There are a couple of areas where Dell equals or outperforms Brother this year, such as cost/value (tied at 8.8), print speed (tied at 8.7), and quality of photos (Dell’s 7.6 to Brother’s 7.3) and documents (9.3 to Brother’s 9.2). You’ll be happy with a Dell printer, or even a Samsung, but consider the consistency Brother brings to the table before making that final purchase. (Not that you can really buy a Dell printer anymore, they got out of the printer biz a couple years ago. These scores are built on nostalgia perhaps.)
Looking at those photo-quality numbers, it’s clear that few people are happy with the images they get on paper—except from Canon. It earned an 8.1 for photo quality, and is followed up by the two lowest-scoring brands in our results—HP and Epson. Both have a 7.7 for photo quality, and don’t do bad at all for document quality, either. It’s kind of a surprising result for a world that has so embraced digital photography that good scores like that don’t elevate the brand in other areas.
That said, the range from high to low overall satisfaction is within a point, from Epson’s 7.9 up to Brother’s 8.8—the average across all brands is 8.3. It’s the same under the likelihood to recommend (7.9 Epson up to 8.9 for Brother, for an average of 8.2).
Are you going to regret buying any of these printer brands? Probably not, but consider your other needs. The scores for Epson and HP are relatively weak under tech support and repairs, for example. And Samsung’s photos and overall paper-handling abilities are on the low end.
If you’re looking to get a specific type of printer, Brother is also on top when it comes to ink-jet multifunction/AIOs (with an 8.5 overall score), monochrome laser AIOs (8.9), and color laser AIOs (8.9). It ties with HP on standard monochrome lasers (9.0).
For more, read The Best Printers of 2020.
You may be wondering: “What about 3D printers?” We asked about them, and respondents had experience with Creality 3D, Dremel, MakerBot 3D, Monoprice, and XYZprinting printers. But we require a minimum number of responses before we include any vendor in the results, and none met that threshold. Maybe next year.
The PCMag Readers’ Choice survey for Printers was in the field from June 22, 2020, to July 13, 2020. For more information on how our surveys are conducted, read the survey methodology.
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