If only all computer gear were as reliable, affordable, and capable as the ink jet printer! Other than feeding it paper and ink, you can basically ignore it: There are no viruses to stress over, and driver updates are relatively infrequent. And the batch of 20 personal ink jet printers we tested for this story was no exception. We were impressed across the board with both performance and quality—even at the low end. To top it off, manufacturers are delivering ever more advanced features at lower prices.
Even though most computer users already own ink jets, the great values available today have kept sales strong. People clearly see the benefit in replacing and upgrading their ink jets; around 17 million of them were sold last year. Interestingly, the number of manufacturers is consolidating. The printers in this year’s story come from just four companies: Canon, Epson, HP, and Lexmark. Four years ago, we reviewed printers from eight different manufacturers. Dell recently announced entry into the ink jet world as well (products to date have been variations on Lexmark printers), bringing that total number to a whopping five.