Printing on a Ramen Noodle Budget: The Best Printers for College Students

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best printers for college studentsYou sit with your eyes bloodshot and that last ounce of caffeine slowly leaving your system. It’s 3:00 a.m. on a Tuesday night (although at this point you might as well just consider it Wednesday morning), and you have just finished a 15-page paper that is due in five hours. None of your friends have printers, or the ones who do are fast asleep, and you’ve got no time to print from the student facilities before class starts. Panic starts to set in, and you can’t think of a single way to get out of this – what are you going to do? 

Print it on your own printer, of course! Contrary to popular belief, owning your own printer is cheaper than most other options. Thanks to numerous innovations in technology, and with the consumer demand rising, the prices of all-in-one personal printers are lower than they have ever been. The only downside to purchasing one is that the market for personal printers is highly competitive, meaning there are quite a few options out there to choose from. With each printer having multitudes of pros and cons, it can be difficult to pick the lowest price point, choosing from the multitude of marketed printers for college students.

To help ease this difficulty, we have compiled a list of some of the most affordable printers that do not sacrifice quality. Now you can finally print out your all of your last minute papers that you definitely didn’t just start on.

First up is the Canon Office and Business MX922 All-In-One printer. This Canon prints in both black & white and color, and it has a DPI (dots per inch) of 600 x 600 and 9600 x 2400 respectively. It offers both LAN ethernet support as well as wireless capabilities, allowing for printing from mobile devices in addition to PCs. The printer houses two cassette trays for different sizes of paper, a document scanner, an automatic document feeder, and a 3” LCD display. Canon has always been known for making decently priced, high-quality printers for both commercial and personal fields, and the MX922 is no exception. The printer starts at $84 and comes with enough ink to keep an occasionally-printing student set for several months.

Copy of Epson Expression Home XP-430Next up is the Epson Expression Home XP-440 printer. While this printer also handles both black & white and color, it does differ a slight amount in resolution. Its max print DPI for both color profiles is 5760 x 1440, which is great quality for black & white quality but a bit of a step down from the color image quality in some of the other printers. There’s no need for dismay, however, because the odds are very high that none of the printing you will be doing for school will be absurdly detailed, full color prints; most of what you’ll be printing will be lab write-ups and the occasional paper. The XP-440 also has wired and wireless capabilities, a document and photo scanner, a 100-sheet input tray, a 2.7” color preview display, and comes with ink. Though the overall features pale in comparison to some of its more expensive counterparts, the XP-440 is a stellar printer starting at only $59.99, and performs very well for this price point.

Copy of HP Envy 4520Coming in last as far as your wallet is concerned, but most certainly not least for your needs, is the HP Envy 4520 All-In-One printer. The HP Envy 4520 prints in, you guessed it, both black & white as well as color, with a 1200 x 1200 DPI in black and 4800 x 1200 DPI in color. This sort of resolution is roughly the standard for most printers in this price bracket, and, for the type of printing done by most college students, this works perfectly fine. It supports only wireless connections, but also includes a 100 sheet input tray, a 2” mono LCD display, a scanner and copier, and automated two-sided and borderless printing, all with a maximum print speed of about 20-25 pages a minute. Coming in as the least expensive of all three printers mentioned, the HP Envy sits at only $43.99 on the Amazon Marketplace, less than the price of the latest video game.

Out of all three printers, many of the features offered are rather similar; most only have a few minor changes that would most likely not even be noticed by the average student. However, they do differ in some areas, as each printer caters to a certain set of needs. The Canon MX922 may be the most expensive, but it allows for very high-quality printing and scanning of both photos and color documents; this printer also offers higher quality and more vibrant displays and greater connection options. The Epson XP-430 is better in the all-around printing department as it has a good resolution for both black & white and color, making it more versatile for physical printing output. Finally, the HP Envy 4520 beats the competitors in a big way when it comes to price, making the small-scale printing that you’ll be doing in your dorm ultra-affordable. Unfortunately, that does show in some of the features and print quality, but it is still a fantastic option. Ultimately, while there is no 100% cheap way of going about personal printing, it will be cheaper in the long run to buy your own printer. There is no universal “best” out of all of the available printers for college students; each of the three discussed here have their pros and cons, and at the end of the day it depends on your personal collegiate needs.

2017-05-14If you decide that a printer just isn’t right for you, or if your printer somehow becomes defunct 10 minutes before you have to turn in a paper, you will always have access to campus print services. Students have access to nearly 100 printers on both campuses: 40 on the Marietta campus and 56 on the Kennesaw campus. When logged into a computer with your student NetID, you can print from any application or program and then use preloaded K-Cash to pay for the print job. Black & white prints are $0.10 a page and color prints are $0.50 a page, doubling for double-sided print jobs. All you need to make these on-campus printers viable options is a little bit of planning and forethought.

In the end, whether you buy your own printer for your dorm, scrape by with small print jobs on the on-campus printers, or mooch off of your friends, printing is going to be a necessary part of your college experience. Why not make it easier on yourself and just get your own printer now?

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Zach Auzenne
Mostly consisting of matter and definitely not tiny robots, I am a creative individual with a passion for, well, creating. Perusing a degree in Software Engineering, I hope to marry my programming and documentation knowledge with my true passion of art and design. Working two jobs in graphic design and seeking software internships, I hope to abolish all my free time in trade for favorable placement in the hierarchy of life.