- The Canon PIXMA TR150 Wireless Color Printer is the best overall compact printer, offering excellent print quality and a small footprint.
- The HP Tango X Smart Wireless Printer is the best smart compact printer, with features like remote printing and voice control.
- The JADENS Portable Thermal Printer is the best portable compact printer, perfect for printing documents on the go with its compact size and thermal printing technology.
- The Canon TS202 Inkjet Photo Printer is the best budget-friendly printer, offering quality prints at an affordable price.
- The HP Sprocket is the best compact printer for photos, allowing users to print pocket-sized photos from their mobile devices in less than a minute.
If you want to print something from a PC, there is no shortage of printers to choose from. When desk space is an issue, the best compact printers are often a great solution. It’s a niche that’s become more popular in recent years, which makes finding the right model challenging. With that in mind, we rounded up five of the best small printers on Earth, whether you need a small desktop system or something a bit more portable.
So after reviewing all of the options, here are our top picks for the five best compact printers on Earth today:
- Best Overall: Canon PIXMA TR150 Wireless Color Printer
- Best Smart Printer: HP Tango X Smart Wireless Printer
- Best Portable: JADENS Portable Thermal Printer
- Best Budget: Canon TS202 Inkjet Photo Printer
- Best for Photos: HP Sprocket
#1 Best Overall Compact Printer: Canon PIXMA TR150 Wireless Color Printer
- Supports AirPrint
- 5.5ppm color print speed
- Print size: 8.5 x 11 inches
- 1.44 inch sized OLED display included
- Battery sold separately
The #1 Best Overall Compact Printer for most consumers comes from Canon with the popular PIXMA TR150. Billed as a mobile printer, it’s a wireless system and a printer that leaves a small footprint behind when not in use.
At 12.7 inches long and a little over seven inches deep, the PIXMA TR150 is certainly compact. It weighs less than five pounds but can hold 50 sheets of paper in the rear tray. It can print full size at 8.5 x 11 images, and it can also print in full color. The color print speed is respectable at 5.5 pages per minute, while monochrome is 9ppm.
Want borderless photos? It can pop out a 4 x 6-inch borderless photo in less than a minute. Canon’s printer is smart, so you can connect with an app or use Alexa and AirPrint. If you want to go completely wireless, that’s possible with an optional battery pack. It’s capable of 330 pages per charge and recharges through a USB-C port.
There’s a lot to like with the PIXMA TR150. The print quality and the size make it one of the best compact printers around. It’s not the fastest, but it’s effortless to use and small enough to carry in a backpack or bag. We also love the optional battery, even if it takes this printer’s price to the next level. Check out the Canon Pixma TR150 Wireless Mobile Printer on Amazon.
|It’s small enough to transport but has excellent print quality.
|It’s one of the more expensive compact printers.
|The printer has dual-band Wi-Fi.
|The color print speed could be better.
|It can print borderless or full-size images.
|There is an optional detachable battery.
Best Smart Compact Printer: HP Tango X Smart Wireless Printer
- Print documents and photos from the cloud
- Scan with your smartphone camera using the HP Smart app
- Compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Home
- Max black print speed (ISO) 11ppm
- Works with Windows, iOS, Mac, and Android
HP produces a range of printers, but their best smart compact model is the HP Tango X. This intelligent wireless printer has a surprising array of features for the price. While it’s not as small as our top choice, it’s just as capable.
HP’s printer doesn’t break any new ground in the design department, but it’s lightweight and won’t take up much space on a desk. With the tray in and the top down, it measures 14.8 inches long and is 8.11 inches deep but is only 3.5 inches tall. It holds 50 sheets of paper and prints full-size photos and documents. The HP Tango can also produce borderless prints.
Thanks to the HP Smart app, Bluetooth LE, and dual-band Wi-Fi, the Tango has more intelligence than most printers. It’s an HP Instant Ink printer that’s aligned with the cloud and allows users to print using their voice. The prints are vivid, and you’ll get them quickly. Print speed with black (ISO) is 11 pages per minute, while color (ISO) is just a little slower at 8ppm.
If you print a lot of photos from your PC, phone, or tablet, the HP Tango should be high on your list. It has an attractive price tag, the speed is excellent, and the connectivity options are solid across the board. The only real knock on the printer is the app. Some people felt they had spotty connectivity, although that can be addressed through updates. Check out the HP Tango X Smart Wireless Printer on Amazon.
|The HP Smart App and connectivity options allow remote printing, scanning, and copying.
|The mobile features won’t be useful to everyone.
|The print speeds are excellent.
|You may experience some technical hiccups with the app.
|You can print with your voice via Alexa or Google.
|It provides a lot of bang for your buck.
Best Portable Compact Printer: JADENS Portable Thermal Printer
- Wireless Bluetooth printer
- Cost-effective thermal technology
- 10"D x 1.8"W x 3.1"H
- Continuous printing for up to 3 hours and 360 sheets per charge
- Print documents from 2-8.5 inches
The JADENS Portable Thermal Printer is the best compact printer if you don’t need to print in color but need something portable. It’s perfect for text and documents and completely mobile, thanks to a couple of built-in batteries.
If you felt Canon’s compact printer was too large, you’ll be impressed with the size of this printer. It’s 10.4 inches long, three inches deep, and less than two inches tall. It also weighs less than two pounds, making it the most compact printer on our list. While it can’t print in color, you will never have to worry about ink, and it fits easily into handbags and backpacks.
As a thermal printer, you won’t have to deal with ink, and the printer can handle full-size 8.5-inch paper or print to a smaller two-inch standard. Power cords are also a thing of the past with this printer, courtesy of two internal batteries. They provide enough power to print 360 sheets of paper per charge before you’ll need to recharge the printer.
This efficient system from JADENS is the best compact printer for users who need to print documents from anywhere. That includes the cloud due to the connected nature of the printer. Battery life and standby time are excellent, just remember to keep paper in mind. While this printer doesn’t require ink, you will need to pick up thermal paper. Check out the JADENS Portable Thermal Printer on Amazon.
|The printer is thermal, so no ink is required.
|It’s only suitable for documents and text, not photos.
|It only weighs 1.5 pounds.
|The printer has limited capabilities.
|You can print 360 sheets per charge.
|It can print full-size documents.
Best Budget-Friendly Printer: Canon TS202 Inkjet Photo Printer
- Budget-friendly and compact at just 8.5"D x 16.8"W x 4.9"H
- Easy to set up with included CD-ROM
- Max black print speed 20ppm
- Can also print high-resolution color photos
- 60-page tray capacity
Printers can be expensive, but if you want a compact printer that’s easy on your budget, the Canon TS202 is a fine choice. It’s a step down from the PIXMA series in several key areas but still delivers quality prints at an affordable price.
The TS202 is an inkjet printer with a traditional two-cartridge system for black and color printing. It has a stylish but basic design with onboard controls. It’s simple to use and doesn’t leave a large footprint behind. The Canon TS202 is longer than the rest of our picks at close to 17 inches in length but still smaller than most printers in the class. The printer is also considerably cheaper.
This printer is a third of the price of comparable systems. That’s mainly due to the features, however, as you’re not going to find many on this printer. It’s not smart, so you can’t use Bluetooth or a mobile app. The TS202 can hold 60 sheets of paper and is the fastest printer on our list. The print speed for color is 10 pages per minute, while monochrome clocks in at 20ppm.
If you just need a compact printer to use as needed, it’s hard to argue against the Canon TS202. It’s ridiculously cheap and not that much larger than other compact systems. The print speeds are also fantastic, although it’s a bare-bones printer that’s not exactly built to last for years. Check out the Canon TS202 Inkjet Photo Printer on Amazon.
|The printer has a fantastic price tag.
|It’s not a printer that will last for years.
|The print speeds are great.
|There is an overall lack of features.
|There are simple, onboard controls
|It’s easy to set up and use.
Best for Photos: HP Sprocket
- Uses Zink printing
- Print size: 2x3 inches
- Resolution is 313 x 400 dpi
- Compatible with iOS and Android
- Edit images in the HP app before printing
If you enjoy snapping selfies or primarily use your smartphone for photos, the HP Sprocket is the best compact printer for your needs. It’s an interesting twist on traditional printers, and while it can’t print full-size photos, the pocket-size prints are perfect.
HP’s compact photo printer is designed for mobile users who want to print photos on the go. The printer produces 2 x 3-inch color images on sticky-backed printing paper. This Zinc-based printer can put out a photo per minute and around 35 pictures per charge. It’s completely wireless with Bluetooth and has a sleep mode feature to keep the battery fresh.
The ability to snap and print a photo in less than a minute from any mobile device is impressive. The HP Sprocket also allows users to get creative with their photographs. The app is packed full of frames and various filers. The images are vibrant, and it’s a printer that doesn’t require ink. As for its size, this compact printer is around an inch thick and weighs 6.1 ounces.
The HP Sprocket isn’t geared for everyone but is the best choice for people who love taking photos from their phones. It’s not the only Zinc-based system in this class, although this printer has affordable refills. It’s also one of the more stylish options and a system that has a number of interesting accessories. Check out the HP Sprocket Portable Instant Color Photo Printer on Amazon.
|The printer produces pocket-sized prints in less than a minute.
|The battery life could be better.
|There is an ink-free printing system.
|It’s only suitable for one purpose.
|It has a wide range of filters and flair.
|It weighs less than a pound.
How to Pick the Best Compact Printer: Step by Step
If you’ve never purchased a printer or aren’t sure what to expect with miniature models, we have the answers. The first thing you need to know is that small or compact printers are typically light on features compared to their full-sized counterparts.
That means you won’t find a laser printer you can pop into a backpack. The same goes for 2-in-1 systems that can scan and print. By design, they take up more space but also have room for more features. While certain types of printers aren’t compact, you can find printers that produce vivid images using ink and inkless methods.
Smart printers are also popular in this range. That’s a bonus if you use the cloud or your smartphone to print while on the go. There are also a handful of battery-powered printers that can print documents or snapshots in less than a minute.
You can find hundreds of printers available through sites like Best Buy, Target, and Amazon at any time. There are printers designed to do a little bit of everything, portable systems, and even printers geared towards arts and crafts. When looking for the best compact printer, we feel these are the most important areas to keep in mind.
- Printer Usage
- Print Speed
Let’s take a look at each factor in more detail.
Why do you need a compact printer? Are you simply trying to cut back on desktop clutter, or do you print things from the road? Some printers serve both purposes. If you only plan to print the occasional flyer or photo, you’ll probably want to stick to something budget-friendly and compact.
Anyone who prints frequently wants to pay attention to print speeds and the cost per page. That’s not a concern if you’re printing selfies and birthday cards. It can be an issue for small businesses, but not if you only use black ink.
Consider your daily usage and the types of materials you plan to print. Cardstock and photo paper aren’t a problem with systems from Canon or HP. You can’t use that with a portable thermal printer, and it can be expensive on more portable models.
How you connect to your printer isn’t a big deal with traditional systems. It’s an area where manufacturers can cut corners with compact printers, however. If you’re used to dealing with multiple cables, you may be in for a surprise.
Many compact printers are wireless and just require a power cord to work. That could be a USB Type-C cable or a traditional charging block. It’s minor but it’s something to consider if you plan to toss your printer into a bag. Do you want to connect your compact printer to Wi-Fi? That could be a problem unless you choose a premium model.
Most of the best compact printers have Bluetooth, but not many have dual-band Wi-Fi. It’s reserved for flagship printers in this class, which can limit how you print. As a rule of thumb, it probably doesn’t have Wi-Fi if it’s small enough to fit into a pocket or handbag.
One of the most noteworthy features of compact printers is Bluetooth. This allows you to print from a smartphone or other devices and opens the door to photo editing apps. If the printer has Bluetooth, there is usually an official app for portable printing.
The ability to edit a document or photo without a PC should not be overlooked. These apps can also let you share and upload your work online. Voice control is another feature found on premium printers. You can ask Google or Alexa to print something. You can even sync Alexa up to order ink with some smart printers.
We didn’t find any compact printers with scanners or true two-sided printing, some allow you to scan documents through their app. You can also find accessories like lithium batteries for compact printers that extend their capabilities.
Whenever you hear the term “ppm,” it refers to pages per minute. This is a standard specification that lets people know how fast a printer can print a single page. With color printers, you’ll need to take the color speed and monochrome speeds into account.
With a full-sized home printer, you can expect a rate of around 10 pages per minute on the low end. That’s around the average, although premium printers and models designed for office use can crank out pages at a much faster rate. If you only print in black and white or text, that number can double depending on the printer.
How important print speed is comes down to how often you’ll use your compact printer. None of the printers we chose are slow, but some perform faster than others. Most compact printers are slower than larger models, but the gap isn’t nearly as large as you would think.
What to Know Before Buying a Compact Printer
The areas we covered in our guide are key when shopping for a compact printer, but there are three more things every user should consider: your connection, paper, and the price of ink. All three can be issues with regular printers, and those problems are generally amplified with smaller models.
The cost of ink can quickly send a printer to the scrap heap. Thankfully, it’s something you can check on beforehand. Always compare ink prices when shopping for a printer, compact or otherwise. Paper is a minor concern with regular printers.
Are you considering an inkless printer? That’s where the price can put a damper on things when you see the cost of a 10-piece pack of special paper.
While Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are advantages of compact printers, they can also be a drawback. Connectivity issues have driven plenty of consumers crazy. If you don’t have a steady connection, that can be a problem. Mediocre apps are also a concern if you’re buying a printer from a lesser-known brand.
Using a Compact Printer: What It’s Like
Have you owned a printer before, or will a compact printer be your first purchase? If it’s your first printer, how you feel about the experience depends on the type of printer you choose. A budget-friendly model isn’t going to impress you, but connected models do have some interesting features.
For everyone else, it’s the same as using a full-size printer for the most part. Many common features are missing unless you opt for a premium model. The speed will also take a small hit. As long as you buy a quality printer, you won’t notice a significant difference between a regular printer and one that’s several inches smaller.
Regardless of the style, everyone should appreciate the design, which takes up less space no matter where the printer is placed. If you’re interested in printers that are a step up from compact models, check out our top picks here.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©alfredhofer/Shutterstock.com.