Brother HL-2700CN review

£306
Price when reviewed

The HL-2700CN is one of the more expensive printers on test this month, but unlike the Lexmark it only has a 600 x 600dpi engine and a two-line LCD on the front for changing settings.

At the rear, there are 10/100 Ethernet, USB 2 and parallel interfaces, and the standard paper tray will accept 250 sheets of A4. There’s no multipurpose tray, and a duplex unit will set you back a whopping £510.

In the driver, colour is selected by default, as with many of this month’s printers. But after switching to mono, we saw an incredible speed of 31ppm when printing our 5% test. Text is crisp and clear, so if you’ll mainly print in mono then nothing else here can match it.

Unfortunately for Brother, our emphasis was on colour, and our enthusiasm waned as the colour letter appeared at a rate of 7.6ppm due to the four-pass engine. It’s worth noting that the HL-2700CN takes 85 seconds to print a page from sleep mode – only the Lexmark is slower.

Colour quality was better than average overall, though. Colours were particularly vivid in our Excel worksheet, while gradients were smooth with no stepping in the photomontage.

Our tip is to tick the CAPT box in the driver – we saw a significant difference between the standard 600 x 600 resolution and the enhanced mode. Without it, photos had much more visible half-toning, but looked much smoother with it enabled.

But while others here are faster and offer better quality in colour, the Brother has another important strength: low running costs. Mono pages cost 1.6p, while colour pages are 7.7p, putting the Brother in the middle of the pack. However, these prices include the cost of the transfer belt and fuser unit, which is about £400 – significantly more than the printer itself.

Since both of these will last 60,000 pages, you may never need to replace them if your printing loads are light. As you’ll see on p112, with a low monthly page count, costs plummet and the HL2700CN becomes the second-most economical to run.

This is why the HL-2700CN will only appeal if you fit the light-use scenario and don’t mind the higher initial price – it will be economical in the long run. But if you know you’ll print beyond 60,000 pages or a lot of colour pages, that economy simply won’t exist.

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