Pros: Genuine Brother replacement cartridge, no hassle replacement, easy way to go, economical
Cons: None of real significance but more costly than some reasonable alternatives
When I purchased my Brother HL-2270DW from Newegg for the superb price of just $79 just over a year and a half ago it was the start of a man/printer love story. What an incredible little printer. But even great love stories experience bumps along the way. I’m sure you’ve been there; a disappointment, a brief screaming outburst and then some make-up printing.
The Brother HL-2270DW ships with a 700 page capacity starter cartridge. Sometimes you receive an actual starter cartridge that includes no flag gear, other times Brother might ship a genuine TN-420 (low yield) or TN-450 (high yield) cartridge only partially filled. It’s a luck of the draw kind of thing. But I was already lucky when it came to the purchase price; I received the replacement cartridge.
Typically after a few hundred pages you’ll start seeing a flashing “toner low” warning. It seems to sneak up on you. You experience your first disappointment. “Wow! That was fast.” You still have another few hundred pages to print, but then you get the official solid glowing “toner out” warning and printing stops completely. You remove the cartridge, shake it, sense that there’s still plenty of toner left and begin to do a slow burn. (Before you begin to share my wrath and sense of betrayal, know that I’ll explain a work around later on that will keep you printing until you can get a new cartridge).
If you go on Amazon or Newegg you’ll notice that a bunch of companies sell what are known as TN-420/450 compatible cartridges for as little as $12. Do they work? Some work well, some work with issues and some are just outright crap. My suggestion the first time around for the greatest number of consumers is to stick with the original. A new Brother OEM TN-450 cartridge can generally be found online for less than $50. Remanufactured OEMs are as low as $28. That’s 2,600 pages for just $28 -$48. Contrast that to an HP56 Black Inkjet cartridge at $29.99 yielding just 520 pages and you can appreciate the savings without worrying about whether the darned replacement cartridge will even work.
Brother TN-450 Toner Cartridge
The Brother TN-450 Toner Cartridge comes in a foil wrapper once it’s unboxed. Like most of these wrappers it’s a PITA to open. Cut it with a scissor. You’ll notice a yellow toner ribbon protector on it. Leave it there while you familiarize yourself with the new cartridge since it’ll look a little different than your starter cartridge. Even though it defies everything we American men stand for, this is a good time to read over the instructions and look at the illustration. An original TN-450 Cartridge will have a flag gear (it’s white) on the left hand side of the cartridge. Notice the position of the flag bar in the illustration. If your toner cartridge flag gear is in the same position you’re good to go. If not, slowly turn the gear counter-clockwise until it agrees with the illustration.
Make sure the printer is powered on. Open the toner cabinet door and lift out the drum (the big thing holding the cartridge). Just lift up, it comes right out. The toner cartridge will come out when you gently flip the green lever located on the top left. Remove the yellow toner ribbon protector. Hold the cartridge above the printer horizontally and give it a vigorous two-handed shake for a few moments to even out the distribution of toner powder inside the cartridge. Slide the toner cartridge into the empty drum. When you hear the snap from green lever you’ll know that it’s seated in place. You’ll notice a green slider on top of the drum assembly. Slide it back and forth a few times making sure that it ends up on the same side that it started out. You’ve just cleaned the primary Corona wire. What’s that? Who cares?! When it’s clean your pages will come out looking good.
Put the Drum back where you found it. It just slides and snaps in. Close the cover and the printer (it’s still on isn’t it?) will reset itself satisfied that it has a brand new cartridge. The “Toner Out” light will be off and you’re ready to rock and roll. You now have another 2,600 pages of high quality Brother output at up to 600 x 600 dpi. Well, almost. You know how that “Toner Low” light started flashing with your starter cartridge? And the solid “Toner Out” lamp lit right before the printer quit? Well, in about 1,500 pages you’ll notice the same thing. We’ll get to the work around in a few moments.
Why not the cheapest compatible?
Many of the compatibles, while they may do a reasonably decent job for you don’t fit in quite as well. You might have to jostle them a bit to get them to work. Some don’t come with flag gears and will leave you with a toner out warning on even as they print. Original cartridges even if they are remanufactured are cheap enough that if you don’t possess some “inner geek” it’s probably not worth the additional savings for the anxiety and hassle you’re apt to experience.
The Work Around
When you first get a flashing “Toner Low” warning you can usually dismiss it for a while by just removing the toner cartridge and give it a good shaking to better distribute the toner powder inside the cartridge. Even if you can’t, you still have a few hundred pages before you get the dreaded solid “Toner Out” lamp and the printer quits. This sucks under the best of circumstances, but it sucks big-time if it happens as you go to print that thesis (or proposal) you owe your professor (or boss) the next morning and you forgot to buy a spare cartridge. Relax. This is what you’re going to do.
Power off your printer. Wait until all the lights go out. Power it back on. When the green ready light goes on tap it seven (7) times in rapid succession. You’ve just instructed the printer to continue printing until you actually get around to changing the cartridge. You’ll know when you’re really low or out of toner for real when the images are either faded, streaked or just plain not showing up. But that won’t happen for at least a few hundred pages. But this might be a good time to order that new Brother TN-450 Toner Cartridge.
Although it’s taken me years to appreciate them, Brother really does manufacture top rate yet reasonably priced B&W Laser Printers, Drums and Toner Cartridges. If squeezing the very last penny out of your budget isn’t a necessity I highly recommend sticking with the Brother line.
But, if you want to take it to the edge or exercise your inner geek, I’ll show you how to really squeeze it in an upcoming review. Have some latex gloves, plenty of newspaper and a hand vac at the ready. We’re gonna have some fun!
That’s all for now, dismissed.
Quick Link: Brother HL-2270DW Wireless B&W Laser Printer