I have learned to like simplicity, especially with printers and scanning documents. Nowadays, I have few needs to print anything. Maybe every month or two I need to print a shipping label or random document. Scanning a document is edging to a yearly operation. Keeping my available tools as simple as required is less painful, more or less. Naturally, when the need does arise, the task is either easy or impossible.
By impossible, I mean the printer ink has dried to dust, the scanner is broken, the software fails to install, or your cables are missing. As a digital nomad or remote worker, there is no option of walking to another office floor to find a functional device. Reliability, availability, and simplicity are your friends.
I particularly dislike multi-function printer-scanner-copy devices, as they somehow manage to achieve all possible points of failure simultaneously. I turn to function-specific devices for a few reasons. They are less expensive, travel better, have better support, and have proven more reliable with time.
Yes, there are copy-shops. This works well for some. I have a friend who uses a FedEx-Kinco store as a part-time office because he can lay out, scan, modify, and print building blue prints. I make use of a copy-shop for special cases.
This is why any product links I have are not specific recommendations. They are examples of what works for me. This is my take. Your needs may and will vary.
I have tried several scanners over the years. The one currently in my office is an older flatbed model HP ScanJet G4010. I don’t recall when I purchased it, maybe around 2005. It has traveled and been used in fifteen US States and scanned somewhere around 20,000 or more photos and documents. When I travel with it, I cover it with thin bubble-wrap and put it in a cardboard shipping box. It just keeps working, making the bulk and setup worth it over time.
I have purchased and tried hand-held, flatbed, and multi-function scanners. All have failed, usually at the most inconvenient time. Credit where it is due, Jerry Pournelle called this a, “critical need detector,” as in many devices have critical need detectors which cause devices to fail at times of greatest need. I am most annoyed when device drivers are not available through operating system upgrades, disabling an otherwise functional asset.
The HP G4010 has no critical need detector. It keeps working across multiple operating systems changes, computers, and moving and traveling.
My current printer is an HP DeskJet 1112, purchased in 2018 for $33, and sadly is no longer available. I previously had an HP DeskJet 1000, purchased in 2010 for about the same price. Looking online, I see newer models selling for between $80 and $160.
I don’t recall exactly what killed my DeskJet 1000. I think it fell from my closet shelf, a tragedy caused by repeated packing and moving. It worked flawlessly through many journeys; may it be recycled in pieces. Replacing it for $33 was an easy choice. Aside from letting the ink dry from lack of use, this printer is rugged. I keep spare ink cartridges in their sealed foil bags.
I had a DeskJet 500 years ago. I recall it being equally durable. I no longer recall its fate.
I have tried several multi-functions ‘Frankenprinter’ devices over the years. Without fail, all have. Most simply stop working without discernable reason, the electronic equivalent of an aneurysm. Of course, you only discover the failure when you attempt to use it. A partially functional desk-anchor is frustrating and inconvenient.
I will admit one failure was my own doing. While in a rush to leave for a few weeks, I packed my multi-function printer-scanner-fax-copy-machine in the undercarriage storage of my RV. It did not fit in any other spaces and being in hurry I didn’t take the time swap it out for my trusty DeskJet and ScanJet from my storage unit. Two days and 600 miles later I had a twenty-pound RV anchor. Death by vibration.
There is no, “Top Ten Print Services for the Remote Worker,” which applies for everyone. I like simple, it works for me. My friend suits his needs working at copy-shops across the region because the reliability and availability of expensive copy and print machines. Complexity is counter to reliability.
If you find yourself looking at the multitude of ‘Top Ten’ product sites, be discerning on suggestions.
If there is any common advice for the remote worker, I would suggest only buy what you need and aim for reliability.