InkJet or Smart Tank: Which is Best for Home Printing

Choosing the right type of printer can be a daunting task in the home printing world. Inkjet printers have long been a popular choice for those seeking high-quality color prints, while Smart Tank printers are emerging as a cost-effective alternative with their high-capacity ink supply. But which is truly the best home printer? 

Families and work-from-home employees or entrepreneurs often want to know the upfront cost of the printer and compare it to their budget. At the same time, understanding the ongoing cost of ink is crucial as it directly affects the long-term affordability of printing. Frequently printing photos, documents, or handouts may require high-resolution output and color accuracy, which are print capabilities to consider when making a purchase decision.

Unlike office printing, homes have limited space for equipment and supplies. The dimensions and weight may factor into tie-breakers, ensuring the printer fits comfortably into your allocated space.

In this article, we help you gather the necessary facts to compare inkjet and Smart Tank printers so you can make an informed decision.

Exploring inkjet printers

An inkjet printer is a type of printer that uses tiny droplets of ink to create text and images on paper. It is one of the most common types of printers used as a home printer. It contains one or more ink cartridges that hold liquid ink. These cartridges are usually replaceable and come in different colors (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) to create a wide range of colors when combined.

An inkjet printer can handle various types and sizes of paper, including plain paper, photo paper, and specialty media. The drying time varies depending on the type of paper and ink used. It's important to allow printed documents or photos to dry completely to avoid smudging.

Inkjet printers are very user-friendly and straightforward to set up and operate. Many come with intuitive control panels and easy-to-use software interfaces, making them accessible to users of all skill levels, including children, older family members, or anyone with limited tech proficiency.

Many inkjet printers excel at photo printing. Families can print cherished memories, portraits, or vacation snapshots with vibrant colors and high-resolution details. Some inkjet printers even support specialized photo paper and offer advanced editing features.

Inkjet printers like the HP DeskJet 2823e All-in-One Printer include a built-in copier, allowing families and remote workers to make quick copies of important documents or school materials. This is particularly useful for duplicating documents like worksheets, permission slips, or personal records. Also, with the scanning function included in this multi-taking inkjet printer, you can digitize paper documents, photos, and artwork. This enables easy archiving, sharing, and editing of scanned materials.

The HP DeskJet 2823e All-in-One Printer offers wireless connectivity options that allow you to print directly from smartphones, tablets, or laptops. This wireless capability enhances convenience and flexibility, eliminating the need for physical connections.

Suppose you need to handle different paper sizes and types for a wide range of uses, from schoolwork to sales material. In that case, the HP ENVY 6020e All-in-One Printer smoothly transitions between various document requirements. This inkjet printer is also compatible with the HP Smart App, which provides additional functionality and convenience. Users can easily set up the printer, monitor ink levels, initiate scanning or printing tasks remotely, and even order ink supplies when needed. People often describe it as the best home printer because of its compact design, making it suitable for space-conscious home environments. Its sleek and modern appearance can easily blend into diverse room aesthetics.

HP's Instant Ink subscription service is one more way to save money on home printer ink costs. Printers can automatically detect when ink levels are low and order replacement cartridges delivered directly to your doorstep. Benefit from a continuous supply of ink without the hassle of monitoring and purchasing cartridges manually. 

Suppose you’re looking for a versatile solution for your daily printing, copying, and scanning needs. In that case, inkjet printers provide a user-friendly and versatile solution for high-quality prints with sharp text and vibrant colors. They are generally affordable and widely available, making them popular for home users and small businesses.

Introducing Smart Tank printers

A Smart Tank printer is a type of printer that comes with built-in ink tanks, as opposed to traditional ink cartridge printers. These ink tanks can be easily refilled, reducing the need for frequent cartridge replacements. A steady and uninterrupted flow of ink to the printhead eliminates the inconvenience and downtime associated with running out of ink in the middle of a print job, which occasionally happens with an inkjet printer. It also minimizes the chances of print quality issues caused by uneven ink levels.

Often, there is a misconception that Smart Tank printers are more expensive than inkjet printers. Still, the HP Smart Tank 670 All-in-One Printer uses an innovative design that significantly lowers printing costs, making it an economical long-term choice if you print frequently or in large volumes.

In addition to integrating printing, scanning, and copying functions in one device and supporting wireless connectivity, the best part about this Smart Tank printer is that refilling the ink tanks is simple and mess-free. The printer comes with spill-free ink bottles to replenish the ink supply without the risk of accidental waste.

The budget-friendly HP Smart Tank 580 All-in-One Printer has a slightly slower print speed than the HP Smart Tank 670 All-in-One Printer, but in most other functional aspects, the two models are very similar. The HP Smart Tank 670 All-in-One Printer features a small touchscreen display on the control panel, offering a more intuitive and interactive user interface. In contrast, the HP Smart Tank 580 All-in-One Printer has a simpler control panel with buttons and a basic LCD display. In terms of physical design, the two Smart Tank printers boast a compact build, making them suitable for home environments.

Smart Tank printers are popular among users who prioritize convenience and high-quality output. They are well-suited for families, small businesses, and individuals who require a reliable and efficient printing solution for a variety of document and photo needs.

Cost analysis: inkjet vs. Smart Tank

Cost analysis: inkjet vs. Smart TankCost analysis: inkjet vs. Smart Tank

When comparing the cost analysis of inkjet printers against Smart Tank printers, it’s important to consider various features. Let's break down the contributing factors.

Printer cost

Inkjet printers generally have a lower upfront cost compared to Smart Tank printers. Inkjet printers are widely available at various price points, including budget-friendly options. Smart Tank printers, on the other hand, tend to have an initial higher price tag due to their advanced ink tank system.

Ink costs

Inkjet printer ink cartridges can be expensive to replace, especially if you print frequently or in large volumes. Ink cartridges may need to be replaced more frequently, leading to ongoing costs. In contrast, Smart Tank printers use a refillable ink tank system, which allows for higher ink capacity and lower ink costs per page. Ink bottles for refilling the tanks are generally more cost-effective than individual ink cartridges.

Page yield

Smart Tank printers often provide a higher page yield compared to inkjet printers. The larger ink tanks in Smart Tank printers can hold more ink, resulting in more pages printed before needing to refill the tanks. This can lead to cost savings in the long run.

Printing frequency

If you print infrequently or in small volumes, an inkjet printer may be more cost-effective initially due to its lower upfront cost. However, a Smart Tank printer can be more attractive over time if you print frequently or in large volumes.

Print quality and longevity

Several factors come into play when comparing print quality and longevity between inkjet printers and Smart Tank printers. Inkjet printers typically produce high-quality prints suitable for regular document and photo printing. On the other hand, Smart Tank printers are known for their superior print quality, especially regarding detailed images and graphics.

Here are some elements to consider:

Print quality


The inkjet and Smart Tank printers can produce high-quality prints with sharp text and vibrant colors. The print resolution, measured in dots per inch (dpi), is an important factor that impacts print quality. Higher-resolution printers can generally produce more detailed and crisp prints.

Printhead technology

Inkjet and Smart Tank printers may use different printhead technologies, such as thermal inkjet or piezoelectric printheads. These technologies affect the precision and accuracy of ink droplet placement, which can impact print quality. Both printers can achieve excellent print quality, but the specific technology used can vary among models.

Ink quality

The quality of ink used in inkjet printers and Smart Tank printers can impact print quality. Ink formulations and properties can vary, but it’s important to remember that HP printers are designed to work optimally with HP ink. Using genuine HP ink ensures compatibility with the printer's printhead, reducing the risk of clogs, streaks, and other print quality issues arising from using incompatible inks.

Home printer longevity

Printhead maintenance

Proper maintenance and care of the printhead can contribute to the longevity of inkjet and Smart Tank printers. Regular printhead cleaning can help prevent clogging and ensure consistent print quality over time.

Ink system design

Smart Tank printers typically have a sealed ink tank system that helps prevent ink from drying out and clogging the printhead. This design can extend your home printer’s lifespan by reducing the risk of printhead issues caused by dried ink.

Printer build quality

Factors such as the durability of the printer body, the quality of internal components, and the manufacturer's reputation can play a role in determining how long the printer lasts. It's recommended to read reviews and evaluate the specific features and specifications of the printer you are considering if you want a solution that will endure the demands of your schoolwork or home office needs.

Convenience and ease of use

Several key differences emerge when comparing an inkjet printer with a Smart Tank printer in terms of convenience and ease of use. Inkjet printers require frequent cartridge replacements, which can be cumbersome and costly. Smart Tank printers come with refillable ink tanks that hold more ink, reducing the frequency of refills.

Let's look at a simple comparison:

Inkjet printer:

  • Ink replacement: Frequent cartridge replacement needed

  • Convenience: Cumbersome cartridge changes

  • Cost-effectiveness: Lower up-front costs

Smart Tank printer:

  • Ink replacement: Refillable ink tanks with less frequent filling

  • Convenience: Straightforward ink filling process

  • Cost-effectiveness: Lower long-term costs

What else to consider?

The initial setup process of a Smart Tank printer is similar to that of an inkjet printer. You unbox the printer, remove any protective materials, and assemble any components if necessary. After that, inkjet printers typically require the installation of ink cartridges. This involves opening the printer's cartridge access door, removing the packaging, and inserting them into their designated slots. The printer usually prompts you to align the cartridges or initiate the ink-priming process. For a Smart Tank printer, the printhead priming process usually involves initiating a one-time setup routine where the printer pumps ink from the ink tanks to the printhead to ensure proper ink flow and prevent air bubbles in the system.

When it comes to the day-to-day operations of your home printer, inkjet printers and Smart Tank printers offer different print quality and speed options. You can adjust the print settings based on your requirements, whether you need high-quality prints or fast document printing.

Monitoring ink levels depends on your model more than whether you purchase an inkjet or Smart Tank printer. Your equipment may display ink levels on the printer control panel or through software on a connected computer. Smart Tank printers often have transparent ink tanks or indicators that allow users to easily see the ink levels at a glance.


If you prioritize affordability upfront and primarily print photos or documents occasionally, an inkjet printer is suitable. A Smart Tank printer might be a better option if you print frequently and value lower long-term ink costs. Consider your printing needs, budget, and space availability to make the best decision for your home printing requirements.