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The Best Home Printer for Most People

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What is the best printer for most people? Let’s face it: Most people don’t need a printer. At this point, putting ink to paper is pretty pointless and, barring a few specific cases, you’re going to dust off your printer once a month at best. That said, if you want maximum resolution and to ensure your ink tanks won’t dry out, a laser printer is the way to go. Inkjet and other cheaper technologies just don’t stack up to the speed and quality of a good laser printer, and prices have fallen so low that it makes no sense to pick up a sub-$100 inkjet printer when these printers are far faster and better and won’t see their cartridges drying out and needing a refill every six months.

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The goal, then, is to find the best laser printer that would meet most of a person’s printing needs while balancing price and quality. Finding the best one is difficult, primarily because these printers are all quite fine and offer prints that handily beat most inkjet printers for document reproduction.

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The printers I tested were:

These are printers regularly picked by publications like CNET, Wirecutter, and PC Mag, and they all, at minimum, do fantastic and fast black-and-white printing. But how do they actually compare? Which is the one you should buy?

The testing process was simple: I connected each one to my wifi network and ran through two print test pages—color and black-and-white—and a mixed 10-page document. I timed the prints as soon as the print drum began spinning and stopped the timer when the last page came out. I tested duplex and single-page prints as well and then ran about 30 pages through each one to ensure there were no glaring issues.

Best Printer for Speed and Quality

An image of a printer test page.

Testing printers all day long.
Photo: John Biggs/Gizmodo

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Print quality was approximately the same on all of these models. They’re good! The one standout was the HP M255dw, which displayed excellent color reproduction in my test images as well as great B&W performance. But quality matters just a little less in a laser printer than speed: You want your printer to do a good job, but also to spit out your document quickly.

Here, the two color printers, the Canon Imageclass LBP622Cdw and the HP M255dw, showed the major downside of their ilk. They’re slow compared to printers that only have to handle black toner. They were the slowest printers in every test, with the HP taking 14 seconds to print a single black-and-white test print. Of the two, the Canon was, on average, faster.

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If speed is your passion, then the real performer was the Canon LBP226dw, which printed a single black-and-white test page in a mere two seconds and 10 double-sided pages in just 30 seconds.

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In terms of absolute print quality, however, the HP M255dw offered the best color and B&W reproduction. The test prints were noticeably superior and even though the speed sometimes lagged, quality is job one when it comes to a laser printer. Yet because the HP was the slowest overall, this one is going to the Canon LBP226dw, which has good enough quality and lightning-fast print speeds.

Winner: Canon LBP226dw

Best Printer for the Price

A printer test page with an iPhone next to it. There's a timer on the iPhone's screen that says 14 seconds.

HP might have produced the best-looking test pages, but it also took the longest.
Photo: John Biggs/Gizmodo

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Regardless of quality and speed, if a printer is too expensive it’s going to go to waste gathering dust on your desk or in a cabinet. The printers we tested were all under $300 but range in price from as low as $120. If we looked at price alone, the two Brother printers, the HL-L2395DW and HL-L2350DW, would take the lead at $170 and $120 respectively.

We also factored in price per page, the average cost of printing a page, which is fairly easy to determine. In this case, we took the smallest replacement toner cartridge and divided it by the number of pages it promises to print.

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Printing in black-and-white costs between 3 and 4 cents per page, while the two color printers both cost exactly 6 cents per page when printing in color. And, okay, yeah, that didn’t simplify anything! The Brother printers both cost just 3 cents per page when printing and are neck-and-neck with the Canon imageCLASS LBP226dw for printing the cheapest black-and-white pages.

So let’s factor in the actual price of a toner cartridge—and again, let’s look at the cheapest per printer. That super-cheap Canon loses its appeal, as you’ll have to drop $117 for a cartridge. That will give you a whopping 3,100 printed pages, but that’s still a major commitment. The HP and the color Canon call for $63 and $68 respectively for black-and-white cartridges, while the color cartridges are both around $70.

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And here is where the two Brother printers really shine. While you’ll only get 1,200 pages per cartridge in the cheapest Brother toner cartridge, they still only have an upfront cost of $43.

With the Brother HL-L2350DW starting at just $120 and a $43 toner cartridge netting you a mere 3 cents per pages, its the absolute winner if you’re looking to spare your wallet.

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Winner: Brother HL-L2350DW

Best Printer by Design

A printer’s physical design is fairly subjective but given the large footprint, it’s important to get a model that is small enough for a desk but has room enough for plenty of paper and toner.

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When it came to overall size, the Brother HL-L2350DW was small and compact, although it did have an almost comically small LCD window on the top. This isn’t terrible except when setting the printer up without a computer or phone. Typing in the wifi access point password was a frustrating experience, but not impossible, and it was definitely the smallest and lightest of the bunch. Still, even minor imperfections count against you in a competition this close.

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The larger multi-function Brother HL-2395DW also features a scanning plate for copies, and at $170 it’s an excellent little printer. It also had the best interface with a great color touchscreen on the front panel, but the Canon Color imageCLASS LBP622Cdw featured one of the best CMYK level indicators I’ve seen on a printer. It had four LCD displays over four colored boxes that showed how much toner was in each cartridge, allowing you to see the cartridges empty in real time. The LCD itself is black-and-white, but it’s big enough to read without glasses.

Still, the most pleasing design overall came in the HP M255dw and, although though it was much larger than the other printers we tested, it was ready to go out of the box with a full set of cartridges pre-installed and an extremely readable color LCD touchscreen that made it super easy to set up. One peeve? HP, out of all the models, had the most popups offering to sell you toner and paper. All of the printers had some form of auto-ordering system built in and obviously, it’s an excellent deal to have your printer phone home for supplies. That said, HP was the most adamant.

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Because the HP and the Canon LBP622Cdw were both strong contenders, I was torn. The HP, however, was surprisingly well-appointed—it even came with a USB cable in the box—so it looks like Mssrs. Hewlett and Packard win this time.

Winner: HP M255dw

So, Which Printer Prints Best?

While inkjet printers can still be found for cheaper than a good laserjet, they’re just not a smart buy unless you’re printing weekly or daily. Laserjet printers won’t win any awards when it comes to printing out your favorite photos, but you should spend the money to get a professional to do those anyway—especially because pro ink will fade a lot slower than what’s found in a standard inkjet. And when it comes to a laser printer that will give you a good balance of affordability, quality, and speed, we have to tip our hat to the $120 Brother HL-L2350DW. It was one of the fastest printers we tested, the cheapest both for upfront and maintenance costs, and small and pretty nice-looking to boot. While we absolutely adore the HP M255dw, especially for its excellent print quality, gorgeous display, and ability to do color, it just was too slow and costly to be the best choice for most people. If you absolutely need color, definitely give it a shot, but for those of us just looking to print out tax returns and the odd ticket or shipping label, the Brother HL-L2350DW is our top choice.

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Correction 10/7/2020, 9:16 a.m. ET: A previous version of this post misstated the name of the cheaper Brother printer. It is the Brother HL-L2350DW.

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Apple HomePod update brings Intercom and other new features

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Apple HomePod owners, starting today, will be able to use the newly announced “Intercom” feature to send messages between their HomePod smart speakers. The feature, which arrives via a software update, brings this and several other new features to Apple’s smart speakers, including those introduced at Apple’s event last week where the company debuted its $99 HomePod mini.

Of these, Intercom is the most notable update, as it helps the HomePod catch up to rival smart speakers, like those from Apple and Google, which have offered similar broadcast messaging systems for years.

But in Apple’s case, Intercom doesn’t just send a user’s voice message — like “dinner’s ready!” or “time to go!” — across the family’s HomePod speakers. It’s also meant to work across Apple’s device ecosystem, by adding support for iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and even AirPods and CarPlay.

This could be a competitive advantage for HomePod, particularly because Amazon — which leads the U.S. market with its affordable Echo devices — no longer has its own smartphone business.

However, Apple says Intercom’s expanded support for other devices isn’t being rolled out today. Instead, it will arrive through further software updates later this year.

To use Intercom, HomePod owners with multiple devices can say things like:

“Hey Siri, Intercom, Has anyone seen my glasses?”

“Hey Siri, tell everyone, Dinner is ready.”

“Hey Siri, Intercom to the kitchen, Has the game started?”

And to reply, users can say something like “Hey Siri, reply, Yes.”

In addition to the new support for Intercom, the software update also introduces deeper integration with Apple Maps and iPhone, the ability to set and stop timers and alarms from any HomePod, the ability to continue listening to a podcast with multiuser support, and more.

The deeper integration means HomePod owners can now ask Siri for information about traffic conditions, as well as nearby restaurants and businesses. A Siri suggestion will then automatically appears in Maps on your iPhone so the route is available as soon as you get in the car.

HomePod owners can also now ask Siri to search the web, which then sends results to the iPhone.

Two other new features will arrive later this year, including the ability to connect one HomePod (or more) to Apple TV 4K for stereo, 5.1 and 7.1 surround, and Dolby Atmos for movies, TV, games and more.

The other upcoming feature, called Personal Update, will soon let you ask Siri “what’s my update” or “play my update,” to get all the info you need to start your day, including news, weather, calendar events, and any reminders.

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Now may be the best time to become a full-stack developer

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In the world of software development, one term you’re sure to hear a lot of is full-stack development. Job recruiters are constantly posting open positions for full-stack developers and the industry is abuzz with this in-demand title.

But what does full-stack actually mean?

Simply put, it’s the development on the client-side (front end) and the server-side (back end) of software. Full-stack developers are jacks of all trades as they work with the design aspect of software the client interacts with as well as the coding and structuring of the server end.

In a time when technological requirements are rapidly evolving and companies may not be able to afford a full team of developers, software developers that know both the front end and back end are essential.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the ability to do full-stack development can make engineers extremely marketable as companies across all industries migrate their businesses to a virtual world. Those who can quickly develop and deliver software projects thanks to full-stack methods have the best shot to be at the top of a company’s or client’s wish list.

Becoming a full-stack developer

So how can you become a full-stack engineer and what are the expectations? In most working environments, you won’t be expected to have absolute expertise on every single platform or language. However, it will be presumed that you know enough to understand and can solve problems on both ends of software development.

Most commonly, full-stack developers are familiar with HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and back-end languages like Ruby, PHP, or Python. This matches up with the expectations of new hires as well, as you’ll notice a lot of openings for full-stack developer jobs require specialization in more than one back-end program.

Full-stack is becoming the default way to develop, so much so that some in the software engineering community argue whether or not the term is redundant. As the lines between the front end and back end blur with evolving tech, developers are now being expected to work more frequently on all aspects of the software. However, developers will likely have one specialty where they excel while being good in other areas and a novice at some things….and that’s OK.

Getting into full-stack though means you should concentrate on finding your niche within the particular front-end and back-end programs you want to work with. One practical and common approach is to learn JavaScript since it covers both front and back end capabilities. You’ll also want to get comfortable with databases, version control, and security. In addition, it’s smart to prioritize design since you’ll be working on the client-facing side of things.

Since full-stack developers can communicate with each side of a development team, they’re invaluable to saving time and avoiding confusion on a project.

One common argument against full stack is that, in theory, developers who can do everything may not do one thing at an expert level. But there’s no hard or fast rule saying you can’t be a master at coding and also learn front-end techniques or vice versa.

Choosing between full-stack and DevOps

One hold up you may have before diving into full-stack is you’re also mulling over the option to become a DevOps engineer. There are certainly similarities among both professions, including good salaries and the ultimate goal of producing software as quickly as possible without errors.  As with full-stack developers, DevOps engineers are also becoming more in demand because of the flexibility they offer a company.

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You Can Still Get a Stimulus Check If You’re a Low-Income Earner

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Illustration for article titled You Can Still Get a Stimulus Check If Youre a Low-Income Earner

Photo: Andy Dean Photography (Shutterstock)

If you have yet to receive your coronavirus stimulus check, there may still be time. The IRS has extended the deadline to apply for one until Nov. 21 for “non-filers”—typically low-income earners or those with prolonged unemployment who earn below the income threshold requiring them to file a tax return. According to the IRS, roughly 9 million Americans are qualified but have not received their checks.

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“We took this step to provide more time for those who have not yet received a payment to register to get their money, including those in low-income and underserved communities,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said in a statement.

How to use the Non-Filers tool

People who qualify for the extension will not have filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return, and have income below $24,400 for married couples or $12,200 for a single person. As non-filers are typically harder to reach and often have outdated contact information, the IRS has created a Non-Filers tool (available in English and Spanish) to ensure that money can still be claimed. Per the IRS:

Usually, married couples qualify to receive a $2,400 payment while others normally qualify to get $1,200. People with qualifying children under 17 can get up to an additional $500 for each child. People can qualify, even if they do not have earned income or work.

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The tool will ask you to register for an online account, which will have a form for your personal information and an option for direct deposit. Two weeks after registering, you can track the status of your payment using the IRS Get My Payment tool. The idea is to get money in your hands—and you will not be asked to pay taxes on it.

The IRS plans to issue all payments before the December 31, 2020 deadline outlined in the CARES Act.

Note, a federal judge recently ruled that prisoners should also qualify for a stimulus check, and has ordered the IRS to reconsider previously denied claims that were filed through the Non-Filers on the IRS’s website, according to Newsweek. The IRS says it’s planning to appeal the ruling, but it’s worth registering if you qualify.

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Beware of scams

Make sure you are visiting the real IRS website before entering any personal information. Do not click on unverified links in any emails or texts you may receive. Remember, the IRS is not going to call, text, email, or contact you on social media asking for personal or bank account information.

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