The consumables – a key element:
For having a long lifetime of quality printing, you need cartridges with lots of ink. Ordinary consumables don’t last long and they are expensive to replace.
You might want to consider as an alternative a system with refillable cartridges, like CISS (continuous ink supply system)
Avoid built-in print head cartridges
They usually come with cheap, entry-level printers and don’t last long. A mid or top rage printer is able to use a permanent print-head together with separate ink cartridges per each color.
Printer or Multifunction device?
Depending on your needs and the prices, it is sometimes wise to choose a MFC that can also scan and photocopy documents.
Inkjet or Laser?
Inkjet printers are better both price and quality wise.
Printers for home use
Mid-range equipments are the best option for a reliable and efficient printing of documents and photos. Examples: Canon MG5150/MG5250 and Epson Stylus SX235/SX425/SX525. Also check the CISS Canon and CISS Epson
Printers for offices
You need a fast multifunction device with duplex (two-sided printing), also, with network interface or wireless, for parallel printing.
These are made for quality printing. They compose images using multiple colors (5, 6 or 8 instead of 4 for normal equipment) and they are able to print on CDs / DVDs.
If you can’t decide yourself, check this for help.