Best Brother Printer Review 2020

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If there’s one truth about every printer I’ve ever owned, it’s that I’ve imagined pulling an IniTech: Taking each one into a clear field somewhere and beating it into pieces with a baseball bat. Unless you identify with this sentiment, it’s likely that you’ve never owned a low-end consumer inkjet printer. I’ve had several over time (I will not name and shame the precise brands), and conclude stuck in the same unpleasant cycle each and every time.

Editors’ note, Aug. 22, 2018: The Brother HL-L2395DW is once more on sale at Amazon for $99, as the color HL-3170CDW is on sale for $175, both by Aug. 19. Additional information on these discounts are available here.

First, I’m lured in by a minimal starting price, usually under $80 roughly, however the setup is a pain, the printer only sees my notebook over Wi-Fi if it is in the mood, and output ranges from fine to spotty, with colors and tones everywhere. Of course, the ink runs out shockingly soon, and sometimes my expensive replacement inkjet cartridges aren’t recognized or neglect to initialize properly. Take way too many trips down that troubleshooting rabbit hole and you will be ready to go back again to legal pads no. 2 pencils.

If the above been there as well, you’ll realize why I attempt to discover a half-decent printer that didn’t cost an excessive amount of, was simple to use, and — most of all — actually worked at least almost all of enough time. My biggest benchmark was this: I’d contemplate it a success easily didn’t want to throw the printer out of a window after weekly.

The search for a nonannoying printer


I consulted a few of my CNET colleagues who’ve faced similar frustrations, looked up the latest models of with widely varying lists of features, and sought out reports of problems from purchasers. The purchase price, both upfront and ongoing, was also a significant factor.

Eventually, I landed on the Brother HL-L2395DW. It has almost 2,000 customer reviews on Amazon, practically all positive, and it’s really a favorite at Gizmodo, too. It’s a monochrome laser printer which includes a scanner (printer persons call this a “multifunction” printer), and it’s really the sequel to the Brother HL2380DW, which includes been used in the CNET Labs for months, faithfully printing shipping labels without skipping a beat.

But here’s the main element part: As the official price is $169, it’s on sale on Amazon at least one time per quarter for $99, or AU$199 in Australia. Await it to be on sale and you’ll feel just like it’s $99 well spent (it’s semidiscounted at this time, at $129 on Amazon). Brother doesn’t offer this actual printer in the united kingdom, but comparable models start at £142.

It’s important to remember that I didn’t create and formally test multiple similar products, like we do for reviews of laptops, TVs, phones etc. Instead, this was an individual quest where I picked the model that appeared as if it had the very best reputation from consumers at the purchase price I wanted. There are other laser printers that may get right down to around $99 during sales, and several of them are most likely equally as good, so don’t @ me together with your favorite. (Actually, please do.)

Setup of the HL-L2395DW was easy, and the only assembly required was pulling off several strips of tape holding all of the doors and panels closed, and inserting the drum-plus-toner package. The hardest part was the thin instruction sheet with less-than-detailed illustrations, but I could intuit the way in which to insert the toner. Brother says the “starter” black toner that is included with the system ought to be best for 700 printed pages, and a 1,200-page replacement costs $44 from Amazon.

Wi-Fi setup was also painless, nonetheless it helped that there have been relatively few options on the onscreen menu. The tiny color touchscreen was responsive enough that I could tap in my own Wi-Fi password on the first attempt.

A bigger time sink was establishing to print via Google Cloud Print, something I’ve always found to be inscrutable. Simply adding a networked local printer via Windows 10 or MacOS can be not the one-button task it ought to be, but I acquired that sorted out after a few momemts as well.

AirPrint, Google Cloud Print and more


In my own hands-on testing, printing 10 pages from a MacBook took 27 seconds, including about 5 seconds for the info to stream over the network from my notebook computer to the printer. Printing a seven-page webpage from the Edge browser on a Windows notebook computer took 36 seconds. Making a “photocopy” of an individual sheet of paper took 9 seconds.

But a lot more importantly than that, once I had the printer create and the Wi-Fi connections made, it just worked and kicked out a properly legible document each time. I tried different laptops, I tried my phone (19 seconds for a one-page email via AirPrint), I tried Google Docs, PDF files and emails. It just worked, and for me personally as a decades-long inkjet user, it had been a refreshing change of pace.

One thing to consider if you obtain Amazon: It uses “Amazon Dash Auto Replenishment,” this means it’ll automatically order new toner for you personally if it is running low, but that is clearly a feature you can change off via your Amazon account.

The color option


The HL-L2395DW includes a flatbed scanner and copier, but is not a color printer. I find that almost all of my printing is shipping labels, pages of notes for TV appearances, and user manuals for laptops to learn while testing. But, I also get that color is vital that you lots of people, and a monochrome printer could be a dealbreaker. That is why I followed the printer rabbit hole simply a little deeper to get the Brother’s big, uh, brother basic color version.

I tried the lowest priced color cousin to the so-far excellent HL-L2395DW, to create the HL-3170CDW. Let’s just say clear product naming is not a strong suit here. This color printer is generally $249 (£240, AU$259), but Amazon and other stores regularly sell it for $199, or double the on-sale price of the monochrome version. Reading user reviews for it are usually good, but not as effective as for the monochrome version.

More details are in my own overview of the HL-3170CDW here, however the biggest takeaway is you are trading some features, just like the scanner and touchscreen interface, for cheap, but effective, color.

The window test


They are not the only low-cost, high-quality printers you will discover, nevertheless they are models I kept running across advice for, so they appeared like an excellent destination to start. There’s a very important factor I am convinced of, which is that even for budget shoppers, laser may be the way to go instead of inkjet, which includes caused me so much frustration through the years.

Now, I’ve only used both of these Brother printers for approximately a month, so despite the fact that they pass my test of not attempting to throw either one from the nearest window yet, that could certainly change as time passes. I’ll update this review if that occurs, and I’ll also make certain no person is standing right below my windo

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