At a Glance
- Low purchase and toner prices
- Automatic duplexer and wireless included
- Paper trays can be flimsy or hard to use
Inexpensive and versatile, but slow, this laser is best suited for home or a small workgroup.
Brother’s HL-5370DWT monochrome laser printer may be slow, but it’s an economical choice for home use or for a small workgroup. It’s inexpensive ($300 as of May 25, 2009); it has lots of paper capacity and connectivity options, and it’s easy to install and maintain. The HL-5370DWT can accommodate USB, ethernet, wireless, and even old-time parallel connections. The excellent documentation includes a network user’s guide that describes different network types and details how to connect to each one. Instructions are clearly written and thorough. The ethernet connection I tested worked perfectly. Brother provides printer drivers for Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems.
For paper handling the unit supplies an automatic duplexer; a 150-sheet output tray; two stacked, 250-sheet letter/legal trays; and a 50-sheet multipurpose tray for varied sizes and weights of media. Adding a third 250-sheet tray ($199) boosts the printer’s input capacity to 800 sheets. Still, the HL-5370DWT does have some design shortcomings: The multipurpose tray’s plastic parts are flimsy, with paper guides that clatter when you push them in. Despite being oversize and color-coded, the main trays’ guides are awkward to move. We had to hunt for the extension release button–which lies flat against the bottom of the tray and isn’t color coded–in order to adjust the tray for legal-size paper.
One of the few things the HL-5370DWT lacks is speed. Brother claims a top engine speed of 32 pages per minute, but in our tests it topped out at 26 ppm for text and 5.8 ppm for graphics–below average for a monochrome laser printer, and slightly slower than the comparably priced Xerox Phaser 3250/DN (on text and graphics) and Ricoh Aficio SAP 3300DN (on text only). It also took longer than most competing lasers to print photographs, line art, and pie charts. To its credit, the machine’s graphics output looked nicer than average: Though usually slightly grainy or overexposed, most such prints showed a smoothness and range of detail that is all too often lacking in monochrome lasers. It did a superior job of printing text, as people have come to expect of lasers. The HL-5370DWT comes with a standard-yield, 3000-page toner cartridge. At this writing a replacement cartridge of the same size costs $75, which works out to a higher-than-average 2.5 cents per page. On the other hand, Brother’s high-yield replacement cartridge lasts for 8000 pages and costs $119, or 1.5 cents per page. The user’s guide clearly explains how to access the toner cartridge and unsnap it from the drum unit for replacement.
A few things about the Brother HL-5370DWT–the slowness, the rattly components–feel cheap in the wrong way. But the printer’s economy and versatility make it an excellent all-around choice for the price.