Pros: Extremely affordable, blazing fast, duplex printing, wi-fi, easy installation, small footprint
Cons: Comes with 700 page starter toner cartridge
With a wife who's a teacher, a daughter who's entering high school and of course, me who is always writing, we do an awful lot of printing. Hardly a month goes by that I don't find myself springing for about $55 for new HP inkjet cartridges for our now several year-old HP PSC 2200 Multi-Function Printer. Though it's hard to be overly upset with an all-in-one machine that just celebrated its 8th birthday and has never needed as much as a call to HP Tech Services, our ever increasing volume of printing was screaming for a cheaper alternative. Even as my wife and daughter assured me that color printing was a must, I had my heart set on a mono-chrome laser. I patiently explained that the old HP wasn't going anywhere if for no other reason than our reliance on it as a copier, scanner and fax machine.
It didn't take long for me to zero in on Brother. I had read several reviews of the highly rated Brother HL-2140 Laser, a USB connected printer that a few months back was being sold on Newegg and Amazon for just $69.99. This sounded pretty sweet to me, so I decided to accumulate a few more Amazon gift codes and bring this bad-boy home for virtually nothing other than a few more hours of me taking part in surveys on Opinion Outpost. I never counted on Newegg selling out and Amazon jacking their price of this printer to $119 overnight. Okay, lesson learned.
I figured I'd wait a bit for the HL-2140 to come back down in price, then jump on it. But in the interim, I started reading about the Brother HL-2270DW Monochrome Laser and liked what I was reading. Since it is wireless, I wouldn't have a wife or daughter ripping the USB cable out of the side of my laptop while standing over my shoulder while they were printing their document. I liked the sound of that, and to tell the truth, so did they. Then of course, there was the ability to automatically print in duplex fashion (front and back). This would play nicely into my goal of reducing printing costs. I was liking this more and more. And then it happened. Newegg dropped the price of the HL-2270DW to just $79.99 with free shipping while Amazon was still over $100 bucks. Amazon gift codes be damned, I jumped on it figuring I could always use the gift codes for something useful like color inkjet cartridges for the HP or the eventual purchase of the TN-450 Toner Cartridge for my new Brother laser.
Brother HL-2270DW Wireless Monochrome Laser Printer
The Brother HL-2270DW Wireless Monochrome Laser Printer has a very compact footprint of 14.5" square and a height of just over 7 inches. It has an internal paper tray that holds up to 250 sheets (half a ream) and discharges its printed pages to the top of the printer. It also has a straight through manual paper feed suitable for heavier card stock and envelops.
Brother rates its maximum print speed at 27ppm, although I find that these ratings are generally like EPA gasoline MPG ratings, a bit overstated. But that said, the HL-2270DW is blazing fast, especially when compared to inkjet printers. From sending a document to print to getting your first page takes about 10 seconds. Maximum print resolution is a superb 2400 x 600 dpi. Printed output is incredibly sharp, crisp and clean regardless of the style or size of font. Images printed at the highest quality can be downright breathtaking. Unpredictably, I've rediscovered my love of black & white photography.
For general day-to-day printing, the HL-2270 can be dialed down to Toner Save Mode and printed output is produced at 300 x 300 dpi. At this setting, the results produced are hard to distinguish from that of the "Normal" setting on our old HP PSC 2210.
The Brother HL-2270DW Wireless Monochrome Laser Printer can be set to automatically print on both sides of a sheet of a sheet of paper (duplex printing). For general printing purposes, this is a huge paper saver. My wife also loves this feature since she can print her weekly letter to her students' parents right here from the printer rather than bringing a master copy to the school's copier for multiple copies and waiting for it. At these costs I don't give her a hard time. When used in duplex mode, the printer will produce approximately 10 double-sided pages per minute.
The HL-2270DW connects either by a USB 2.0 cable or through a wireless 802.11b/g connection. The printer also features an Ethernet port. Of course like most printers it ships without either a USB or Ethernet cable. With computers scattered all over our two-story home we opt for the Wireless 802.11g option which seems to work flawlessly for us.
The Brother HL-2270DW Wireless Monochrome Laser Printer arrives with a Quick Start Guide and Drivers and Software on CD. All of our computers operate under Windows Vista or Windows XP 32-bit versions. Loading drivers and software took only minutes following a one-time connection by USB cable and following prompts. Our network SSID was quickly discovered and once the SSID security code was entered the printer was ready to go. This was clearly one of my easiest wireless set-ups to date.
As mentioned earlier, this printer is blazing fast when printing single-sided documents. Due to the high heat produced by laser printing, pages have a slight curl to them when they arrive on the 100 sheet capacity top output tray. When duplex printing, the curl is slightly increased. However, given any time in the output tray, the warm sheets flatten as the paper cools. Even sheets that are grabbed as soon as they are done relax in a short while. Suffice it to say, it's not much of a practical problem.
When I first started researching this printer I read a number of reviews that claimed that the printer was loud, the cooling fan often ran for as long as a half hour following a print job and that the initial power draw of the printer would momentarily dim the lights sharing the same electrical circuit.
I don't find the printer to be loud at all, especially when I compare it to the HP PSC 2210. The cooling fan was a bit distracting at first, but like most new things it becomes quickly acclimated to. We find that even following 50 page documents it lasts no more than 3 minutes, and even then rarely. As far as dimming lights on a shared circuit, it hasn't happened here.
Like all printer manufacturers, Brother is in the business of selling ink and toner. It's the classic razor and blade marketing model perfected by Gillette early in the 20th century. The Brother HL-2270DW Wireless Monochrome Laser Printer ships with a 700 page capacity starter toner cartridge. With the Toner Save feature on this can be stretched some. We're about at the 700 page mark after a couple of months and we still seem to have toner left. Once the Toner Out button comes on the Brother HL-2270DW stops printing. Fortunately, Brother and Brother compatible toner cartridges are among the least expensive to purchase. An extended TN-450 Cartridge rated at 2600 pages can be purchased for $46 or less. I've already put some Amazon gift codes to work for just this eventuality.
Money Saving Tip: Out of the box the printer uses the manufacturer's default settings which are predictably very generous to the manufacturer. Resolution is set to 600dpi, Toner Save Mode is set to off and the printer is instructed to stop when the Toner Empty sensor is tripped. Print quality and the save mode can only be changed each time a job is sent to the printer by taking some time to change your preferences when the Print Dialog panel appears on your screen. Obviously most people don't take the time to do this.
To permanently change the default print settings you need only open your browser and enter the IP Address of your printer. Hit return and you bring up the Printer Settings Menu. There you can decrease or increase print resolution, activate full-time Toner Save Mode and even direct the printer to continue to operate after the Empty Toner sensor has been tripped. Often an "empty" toner cartridge can be temporarily revived by being removed from the printer, vigorously shaken and reinserted into the printer drum.
For home or a small office there's an awful lot to love in the Brother HL-2270DW Wireless Monochrome Laser Printer. With a sub-$100 price I think it's an absolute steal. I recommend it.