Tag: colour laser printer

Product Review–Brother MFC-L8850CDW Colour Laser Multifunction Printer


I am reviewing the Brother MFC-L8850CDW colour laser multifunction printer which is positioned as the step-up model in Brother’s full-speed colour laser multifunction printer lineup. This model is based on their HL-L8350CDW colour laser printer and is equipped with single-pass duplex scanning and a wide range of copy, fax and scan features.

Brother MFC-L8850CDW colour laser multifunction printer

Print Scan Copy Fax /
Paper Trays Connections
Colour Colour Colour / B/W Colour 1 x A4 USB 2.0
Laser xerographic
2400dpi from platen ID copy
Optimised receipt copy, enlarged text copy
Super G3 Optional high-capacity paper tray Ethernet,
802.11g/n Wi-Fi
Auto-duplex Single-pass duplex ADF T.37 Internet fax, Scan-to-email multi-purpose tray IPv6



RRP: AUD$849

Optional Extras:

High-capacity paper tray: AUD$249

Inks and Toners

Standard High-Capacity
Price Pages Price Pages
Black AUD$109 2500 AUD$123.95 4500
Cyan AUD$109 1500 AUD$179.95 3500
Magenta AUD$109 1500 AUD$179.95 3500
Yellow AUD$109 1500 AUD$179.95 3500


Servicing and Other Parts (Laser Printers)

Price Pages
Drum Kit AUD$267.95 25000
Belt Kit AUD$179.95 50000
Wast Toner Kit AUD$29.95 50000

The printer itself

Brother MFC-L8850CDW colour laser multifunction printer

How the printer looks when it is used for any of these tasks

The Brother MFC-L8850CDW colour laser multifunction printer is based on the single-function Brother HL-L8350CDW colour laser printer and others in the series, thus sharing the same improved colour laser-printing technology as its single-function stablemate. This has all the same abilities like the quick page-turnout and the duplex printing that this series is known for where it appears to work on both sides of two pages at one time.

Like other Brother laser printers and multifunctions, this unit has serparately-replaceable components for the print engine such as the drum unit and belt unit. This means that you can gain a longer service life out of these machines and their parts and can factor in these costs over the lifetime of the unit while not paying too much every time you need to replace the toner. One perceived disadvantage may be that you may run in to print-quality and reliability issues when you are using a drum unit or belt unit that is near the end of its useful life.

Brother MFC-L8850CDW colour laser multifunction printer LCD touchscreen

Large LCD touchscreen

One feature I admire about the Brother MFC-L8850CDW multifunction printer is that it is equipped with a large LCD touchscreen that is its “walk-up” user interface. There is also a touch-operated keypad that lights up when you have to enter numbers in to the machine like dialling a fax number or determining the number of copies you can do.

Brother MFC-L8850CDW colour laser multifunction printer user interface

LCD touchscreen and numeric keypad that shows when it is needed

People who have eyesight difficulties may benefit from this because of the large display area and avoiding unnecessary user-interface clutter which is a problem with a lot of business-focused multifunction devices that are in circulation.The only niggle that some people will find with this display is that the clock display takes a few seconds to update when you “wake up” the machine to start using it.

The automatic document feeder is a single-pass duplex type which scans both sides of a document at once for such jobs as double-sided copying. If you have to deal with bound original documents, this lid can be lifted up at the sides so that it lies flat on the original documents.

It, like most of the recent Brother business multifunction printer range, can work as a colour Super-G3 fax machine with a regular telephone connection or can work as a T.37-compliant Internet fax machine. This includes the ability to work as an “Internet-fax off-ramp” where it can receive a fax from the Internet and send it along regular telephone lines to an ordinary fax machine. This feature is pitched at users who have multiple locations separated by long distances and want to avoid huge long-distance telephony bills for sending documents by fax.

Walk-up functions – can be started from printer’s control surface

Brother MFC-L8850CDW colour laser multifunction printer user interface

Task-specific copying options

This machine’s display leads to a simplified user interface that makes it easier for people to use it even if they haven’t used this model before. This is taken from the design cues used in today’s smartphones and tablets and you have such situations as function lists that scroll sideways and one-touch access to the common tasks.

When you copy documents with the Brother MFC-L8850CDW after not using it for a while, the unit will start scanning the originals to memory while the print engine warms up to start printing. This benefits such tasks as copying many pages from bound documents or simply to have the originals returned to whoever gave them to you.

The ID-copy function is, like on most recent Brother multifunction printers, still very simple to use because you don’t have to reposition the card when you flip it to copy the other side. On the other hand, if you line up any document to the edge of the glass surface, the printer clips a few millimetres from the edge of the document which can be of concern for those documents that are “worked to the edge”.

Brother MFC-L8850CDW colour laser multifunction printer app options

Task-specific apps now available

There are a variety of apps which provide extra functionality such as copying a section of text like a newspaper article. These apps also work alongside the popular online services like Dropbox, Facebook and Evernote so you can “scan to” these services. The Brother printer also supports the ability to print from these online services and the Brother Web Connect system allows multiple users to register their own accounts for each service on the same device. Furthermore, each user can protect their presence on these accounts using a PIN number.

The Brother MFC-L8850CDW does work with Brother’s iPrint&Scan mobile-printing software and the Apple AirPrint ecosystem to allow you to print from smartphones and tablets.

Computer functions

I downloaded the driver software for the Brother MFC-L8850CDW colour laser multifunction printer and had found it quick to install but you have to make sure you install the correct driver that pertains to the correct model of printer.

There is the “print-options at a glance” layout for specifying how the print job should be printed and you bring this option up when you click on the “Preferences” or “Properties” option when you specify your print job. This includes rough-previewing of how a duplex, booklet or “tiled” print-job should look like.

The Brother-supplied “ControlCenter4” scan software could benefit from direct access from the desktop rather than via the “Brother Tools” app and could allow you to organise the order of the scanned pages rather than having to delete then re-scan pages to achieve a particular page order for that PDF.

Print Quality and Useability

Like the Brother HL-L8350CDW colour laser printer I previously reviewed, the Brother MFC-L8850CDW multifunction implements the “drawer-style” of consumable loading. This is where you pull out the drum unit as if it is a drawer to change the toner cartridges. This also extends to access to the printer’s internals when you have to deal with paper jamming or similar situations.

The Brother colour laser multifunction has a 6-second delay till the first page comes out when it hasn’t been used for a while. This is something that has to be expected of laser printers because of the way the toner is “fixed” on to the paper using hot rollers.

It was able to competently turn out a large double-sided document properly and reliably, although there it does pause for a few seconds after 30 pages. It may be to receive more data bot also to keep the machine’s running temperature in check. Like the single-function HL-L8350CDW and its stablemates, this Brother printer can effectively “work” both sides of two sheets of paper during a duplex-printing job. This only works with jobs that you submit from the computer rather than any of the “walk-up” printing jobs.

I also had to run a batch of mailing labels on this printer and had a problem with the printer jamming. The large LCD screen showed clearly where to remove any jammed paper and this process didn’t involve groping around in dark places to remove that paper. Then I re-ran the job on some newer labels and had to make sure I was specifying labels rather than plain paper when doing this kind of run.

Limitations and Points Of Improvement

The copy and scan functions could benefit from additional optimised-copy / optimised-scan modes to suit working with thin paper or with bound materials like books. As well, the “app” functionality could also benefit from functions to turn out “pre-ruled paper” like ruled notepaper, graph paper, check lists and music staves similar to what has been offered by HP and Canon for their inkjet and laser printers.’

A problem that can occur when printing a single double-sided document is where the printed document “curls up” in the output bay. This may happen when you use the printer earlier on in its service life. As well, I would also like to see the “quick duplex-printing” functionality where these Brother colour laser printers effectively work both sides of two pages improved to work with jobs you specify from the control panel or for continual printing of many pages.

As for scanning, the Brother multifunction printers could have the scan head able to scan “to the edge” of the glass when scanning documents from the glass platen rather than the automatic document feeder. This is because most of us would line up documents against the edge of the glass when scanning them to achieve a good-quality scan.

Another features that would be nice to have would be the display clock being synced to an NTP time server and supporting local time zone rules like what happens with computers or mobile devices. This can avoid the need to set the clock every time daylight-saving time changes for example as well as a desire to have an accurate clock for fax logs, etc. There could be a menu option to allow the USB port to work as a “plug-and-charge” USB port when the printer is in sleep or hibernate mode as well as supporting 1 amp or 2.1 amps power at that port, so as to allow us to charge smartphones, tablets and their accessories from the printer’s USB port at all times.

Conclusion and Placement Notes

If you are considering a heavy-duty desktop multifunction colour laser printer for that office where you expect to yield a lot of colour documents, I would give the Brother MFC-L885CDW some serious consideration. This is more so if you also expect to include the idea of scanning one or more large runs of documents to PDF and want to get both sides at once.

You could even consider teaming this printer along with one of the Brother A3 single-tray inkjet multifunction printers to set up an “all-inclusive” desktop printing / scanning setup for your small business, home office or non-profit organisation. Here, this unit could handle most regular A4-based printing jobs while you could run the inkjet unit on A3 jobs or those jobs that require special inkjet-compliant media.

Product Review–Brother HL-L8350CDW colour laser printer


I am reviewing the Brother HL-L8350CDW colour laser printer which is similar in capability to the HL-4150CDN and HL-4570CDW colour laser printers. This is the kind of printer one would consider as being useful for high-throughput printing of presentations and marketing collateral for a small business i.e. the organisational “short-run” printing press. The classic example of this would be a real-estate agent or auctioneer who has to turn out flyers that describe the property or goods that are for sale to hand to prospective purchasers when the property or auction lot is available for inspection. Or a church or funeral home could use these printers to bring colour in to those “order-of-service” cards or other similar short-run printing jobs.

There is a cheaper variant of this printer, known as the Brother HL-L8250CDN. This has a slower output speed and only has Ethernet as its network connection but is fast enough for most colour printing applications.

Brother HL-L8350CDW colour laser printer

Print Paper Trays Connections
Colour / B/W 1 x A4 USB 2.0
Laser xerographic Optional high-capacity A4 tray Ethernet,
802.11g/n Wi-Fi,
Wi-Fi Direct
Auto-duplex multi-purpose tray IPv6



Recommended Retail Price:

HL-L8250CDN: AUD$399

HL-L8350CDW: AUD$499

Optional Extras:

High-capacity paper tray: AUD$249

Inks and Toners

Standard High-Capacity
Price Pages Price Pages
Black AUD$109 2500 AUD$123.95 4500
Cyan AUD$109 1500 AUD$179.95 3500
Magenta AUD$109 1500 AUD$179.95 3500
Yellow AUD$109 1500 AUD$179.95 3500


Servicing and Other Parts (Laser Printers)

Price Pages
Drum Unit AUD$267.45 25000
Belt Unit AUD$179.95 50000
Waste Toner Unit AUD$29.95 50000

The printer itself


The Brother HL-L8350CDW printer is apparently easy to set up or prepare for transport compared to previous-generation Brother colour laser printers. Here, there isn’t a need to remove catches and other pieces to prepare the HL-J8350CDW for use. There isn’t also a need to prepare the printer’s print engine for transport such as installing special fittings if the machine needs to be transported.

Brother HL-L8350CDW colour laser printer toner cartridges and drum unit

Toner cartridges and drum unit as a drawer

Like the Brother HL-4150CDN, the HL-L8350CDW has the drum unit working effectively as a “drawer” when you have to change toners, which would make this process a lot more easier. As well, like all of the Brother printers or multi-function units that implement laser or LED xerographic technology, these use a print engine with running parts like the imaging drum and/or transfer belt that the user can separately replace, along with the option to purchase toner cartridges that have a higher yield. These features allow for the printers to be effectively cheap to keep going.

It is capable of being setup for an Ethernet of Wi-Fi wireless network or even supporting Wi-Fi Direct so you can print directly from your mobile device without the need for the printer to be connected to a network. But the Wi-FI Direct function cannot be operated at the same time as the printer being connected to your network.

There is the ability to set these printers up for advanced print jobs such as working with envelopes or thicker media. This is through a drop-down “manual-bypass” tray that accommodates up to 50 sheets of the media along with the back of the printer being able to be dropped down for “straight-path” printing of envelopes. This ability places the Brother HL-L8350CDW and its peers along with the higher-capacity monochrome laser printers at an advantage compared with cheaper Brother printers for working wiht special media.

Walk-up functions

Brother HL-L8350CDW colour laser printer USB walk-up socket

USB socket for plugging in USB flash drives

You can print PDF or similar files from a USB memory stick by plugging it in to a USB port on the front of the unit. One disadvantage here is that it is slower to turn out a 2-sided PDF print job which may come as a limitation when you want to turn out that flyer where the artwork is on a memory stick.

It is also worth knowing that the USB port can serve as a “walk-up” charging port for your smartphone or similar devices. The manual doesn’t seem to support this but I haven’t had error messages thrown up as a result of my charging of gadgets this way. This function even operates when the printer is in the “Sleep” mode or in active use. It doesn’t work this way in the “Deep Sleep” mode.

Computer functions

Brother HL-L8350CDW colour laser pritner control panel

Control panel

An issue with a lot of Brother printers is that they make one driver package for each model even though most or all models of a series have common abilities and features.  This can cause problems with installation especially over the network. Other than that, the software installation worked smoothly.

For printing, it took only a few seconds for the printer to “wake up” and turn out the first page of a job once you submitted it. This was from its “sleep” state. As for heat build-up, there wasn’t much of that during a small print run but it starts to occur through larger print runs say, for example, after 20 double-side pages are turned out. As well, the noise level is similar to what is expected for most laser printers and photocopiers.

The on-machine user interface is similar to the HL4150CDN’s user interface, which has the small LCD display and four-way arrow keys. This doesn’t have the ability to show up how much toner is currently available or provide an easy-to-implement “confidential-print” or “walk-up” printing function.

Print speed and quality

Brother HL-L8350CDW colour laser printer special-media tray

Multi-page special-media tray

The text and graphics documents came out of the Brother HL-L8350CDW very sharply and clearly. This was exemplified with a personal “desktop-publishing” job that I had run as well as other print jobs that I had done with this machine.

The automatic duplex functionality came across as being very quick for jobs that were sent from the host computer. It was something that was very similar to what had happened with the Brother HL-4150CDN where it apparently worked both sides of two pages at the same time. This didn’t cause problems with registration shift, which could make it work well for turning out bookmarks and similar documents or proofing documents that are to be printed on card-stock by a print shop.

As for photos, these came through sharp and vibrant, which is above average for a colour laser printer. Here, I was able to see bright reds in the test images which also came through very brightly and with good contrast. This would increase the Brother HL-L8350CDW’s appeal to people like estate agents who need to turn out a run of flyers to have on hand during an “open-for-inspection” visit.

Build quality and serviceability

The Brother HL-L8350CDW is built very well and, as I have mentioned before, hasn’t had issues with heat buildup or excessive noise. This has been through use of proper cool-down procedures. As well, all the doors and drawers snapped shut properly and didn’t come across as being flimsy.

For serviceability, the rear door exposes most of the output print path so you can remove jammed pages easily. The fact that the drum unit is separately replaceable makes it easier to reach inside the unit if you had to deal with paper jams inside the unit. This makes the job of rectifying most printer paper-transport problems less of a chore.

Limitations and Points Of Improvement

The Brother HL-L8350CDW could show the amount of toner available in the unit on the LCD display so you don’t have to operate a computer to know when it’s time to put a replacement toner cartridge on the shopping list. This could simply be shown as a bar graph and not only when the supply is critically low.

The USB device port on these machines could be implemented for more than just walk-up printing from USB flash drives. For example, this port could support PictBridge printing from digital cameras so you could obtain a quick printout of a digital photo you took with your camera. As well, it could use the USB Human Interface Device class to work with an external numeric keypad for applications such as Secure Print or whenever you are setting it up with a wireless network. It then avoids the need to “pick and choose” numbers for code entry.

A nice-to-have feature that the machine’s owner could separately enable would be a “plug-and-charge” function that is available at all times the printer is plugged in to AC power rather than when it is active or in “sleep” mode. Here, this means that the USB port could provide 1 amp or 2.1 amps of power available irrespective of sleep-mode status so you can charge up a smartphone, tablet or similar gadget from the printer’s USB port. It is one of those features that is becoming more important as the USB port is seen as a universal power outlet for personal gadgets.

Brother could improve on the automatic duplexer in these printers to improve its throughput so that the “sheet output” approaches that of half of the machine’s rated single-sided throughput. This is although these machines do excel on that feature by effectively “working” two sheets at once. It would then raise the bar with those of us who are using this feature as part of our desktop-publishing needs. Similarly, these laser-printer automatic duplexers could be worked further to handle A5 and similar small sizes of paper for those of us who expect them to work as “short-run” printing presses.

As for replaceable parts, Brother could offer for these colour laser printers a “heavy-duty” replacement-parts kit with a drum unit and belt unit that are optimised to handle longer more-intense print runs as an option. This could appeal to small businesses and non-profit organisations who are more likely to run these machines constantly as the organisational short-run printing press.

Conclusion and Placement Notes

I would recommend the Brother HL-L8350CDW as a cost-effective high-volume colour laser printer for those of us who turn out a lot of colour business or presentation documents and place value on the laser xerographic print method for this application. Those of us who are on a budget could opt for the HL-L8250CDN which has a slower throughput and just uses Ethernet network connectivity.

As well, I would run these printers with the TN-346 series of toner cartridges when you are expecting to push them hard on a lot of promotional printout work. Most users can run them with the TN-341 cartridges when on a budget or even use a TN-346K black cartridge along with the TN-341 colour cartridges as a way of stretching your dollar further.

Product Review–HP LaserJet Pro 400 Series colour laser printer (M451dn)


I previously reviewed the Brother HL-4150CDN high-speed single-pass desktop colour laser printer and have been looking to review colour laser printers with a similar feature set (Ethernet networking, high-speed colour printing, auto-duplex printing) to this model that I reviewed. The first competing model that came along with this basic function set is the HP LaserJet Pro 400 which I am now reviewing. It is known as the M451dn but is also available as the M451dw which has integrated 802.11g/n Wi-Fi wireless connectivity.

It is equipped with the HP ePrint email-to-print function, yet is able to, like other printers in this class, turn out colour print jobs as fast as monochrome print jobs for this class of printer.

Of course it is also very interesting about the way HP are positioning this printer in a very confusing purchase environment as they are promoting their high-end “OfficeJet Pro” business inkjet printers like the OfficeJet Pro 8600 Series as being as cost-effective, if not cheaper, to run as a colour laser printer. This in fact affects how they position and price the LaserJet printers and the consumables available for them.

HP LaserJet Pro 400 Series colour laser printer

Print Fax /
Paper Trays Connections
Colour Colour 1 x A4 USB 2.0
Laser xerographic HP ePrint reception only Optional A4 tray Ethernet
Auto-duplex multi-purpose tray IPv6 ready



The machine’s standard price: AUD$599

Optional Extras:

High-capacity paper tray: AUD$145

Inks and Toners

Standard High-Capacity
Price Pages Price Pages
Black $119 2200 $147 4000
Cyan $171.45 2200
Magenta $165.54 2200
Yellow $171.45 2200


The printer itself

Setup and initial observations

The HP LaserJet Pro 400 Series printer is the first single-pass high-speed colour laser that I have reviewed here that uses the Integrated toner-drum print cartridges rather than a separately-replaceable drum unit. There may be benefits and caveats to this approach such as running costs or design abilities for this class of printer.

Like most of the these colour laser printers, this printer uses a drawer for loading and unloading the colour print cartridges. This makes them easier to replace and the process isn’t very messy as well as avoiding the use of “clamshell” designs with lids that can be hard to open.

The network connectivity works properly for all Ethernet-based wired networks and you could even have it plugged in to a HomePlug powerline network adaptor at the end of one of these networks for a reliable no-new-wires network setup. As well, it is a future-proof network printer with integrated dual–stack support for IPv6.

Walk-up and mobile-device functions

HP LaserJet Pro 400 Series control panel

Control panel

This printer has the ePrint email-to-print functionality which I have given plenty of space to but you need to instantiate and manage this function from a regular computer on the network. It could benefit from having on-off or “reset” functionality managed from the printer’s control-panel menu like on the HP LaserJet Pro M1536.

As well, it can work properly with the HP ePrint Home & Biz mobile app for the mobile platforms as well as having inherent support for Apple’s AirPrint iOS mobile-printing effort.

This printer has a “quick-form” printout functionality so you can print out graph paper, notepaper, music staves and similar ruled paper from the machine’s control panel. It still has the same options that have been available across all HP printers equipped with this feature.

Computer functions

The printer uses the same “Smart Install” feature that the HP LaserJet P1560 and the LaserJet M1212 that I previously reviewed here use. This has the driver held in the printer’s firmware and you install the driver to your computer by pointing to the printer’s Web page or to a virtual drive letter and downloading the software from there. This kind of setup can be augmented through the printer checking for and downloading the latest driver software from HP’s Website at regular intervals so that subsequent users have the latest driver software.

The driver software is still easy to use, using the same “preset” methods as had often been the case with other HP driver programs. Even the printing options for duplex or booklet printing are highlighted with a graphic of how the finished document will come out when printed and how you bind it.

Print speed, quality and reliability

HP LaserJet Pro 400 Series toner cartridges

Integrated print cartridges in the printer tray

The print speed for the HP LaserJet Pro 400 Series printer is the same high speed for colour jobs as it is for monochrome jobs using the same paper.

The auto-duplex function could be more efficient with any multi-page or multi-copy jobs. It doesn’t match the Brother HL-4150CDN on this aspect where the Brother could effectively process two sides of two sheets at once.

As well, this LaserJet printer also exhibits a registration problem on the page’s vertical axis where the back of the page is printed significantly higher than the front. It may be limited to this demonstration sample but can be of concern with some desktop-publishing tasks where the back of the document has to line up with the front, such as “cut-out” or “odd-shape” projects like tags and door-hangers. But it wouldn’t be of importance when you turn out booklets or regular documents because of the various margins allowed in the layouts.

I have performed a 100-page auto-duplex print run using regular paper and this printer has been able to complete the job reliably which means that it could satisfy heavier tasks more easily.

The documents that came out of the HP LaserJet Pro 400 Series colour laser printer were the same ultra-sharp output expected out of a good-quality office colour laser printer. The printer was even able to show up the detail very well in documents that had this.

When it came to printing photos through this laser printer using regular office paper, I was expecting a dark image with poor contrast. But I had seen the HP LaserJet Pro 400 Series turn out images that have the same contrast as a good-quality business inkjet when given plain paper. It tended to be heavier with the green on an image that used a contrasting pale-green and bright-red features while it didn’t run a dominant pink overcast image on a group shot of people. This would appeal to those of us who are turning out quick proofs of photographic material.

Limitations and Points Of Improvement

One sore point that I have noticed with the HP LaserJet Pro 400 Series (M451dn) is the consumables, namely the print cartridges. Here, HP could offer high-capacity colour print cartridges as well as the standard colour print cartridges, which they could reduce the price on. They do offer the high-capacity black print cartridge which yields twice the number of pages for approximately AUD$30 extra but the colour cartridges are still of importance especially if you do a lot of “full-bleed” colour or turn out a lot of material in your business’s trade dress.

The printer could use high-capacity flash memory, preferably the SDHC cards, for holding job queues, especially if it is  expected to be a business workhorse. As well, a feature that a lot of competing dedicated colour laser printers do offer is a USB socket for “walk-up” printing from USB memory keys or digital cameras.

But, as I have explained previously, I would definitely like to see improvements with the automatic duplexer especially in its throughput and its front-back vertical-registration behaviour.

Similarly, I would like to see a menu option available from the printer’s control panel that allows you to turn the ePrint feature on an off from that particular control surface. This would allow you to stop the ePrint service overnight when you close up your premises or suspend use if it if you find that it could be misused. It could also benefit from a “confidential print” option where you have to enter a code at the printer to print out the job.

Conclusion and Placement Notes

If you value ePrint email-to-print, prefer an integrated-print-cartridge laser-printer design and have moderate workload expectations, I would recommend you purchase this unit and run it with the high-capacity black print cartridges. Otherwise, I would go for the Brother HL-4150CDN if you are valuing a cost-effective heavy-duty printing machine that excels on double-sided printing throughput.

HP TopShot Scanning–what is it?


HP TopShot LaserJet Pro M275 scans 3D objects but only prints in 2D (video) | Engadget

From the horse’s mouth


 Product Page; Datasheet (PDF)

Press Release

My Comments

HP has introduced a scanning system for one of their newer multifunction laser printers that would be considered out of the ordinary. Some of the press about this technology focuses on the 3D imaging but I see the technology as another way to image objects in a manner that can suit small businesses.

Here, the system, known as “TopShot” uses a document camera with integrated flash heads rather than a scanning bar to scan a document. The camera is mounted on a folding arm and sets up in a manner similar to how you would set up an overhead projector.

When you start the scan process, the camera would take six images, three with the flash and three in ambient lighting conditions. There is the use of different angles and exposure setups which can suit different requirements.

The main benefits offered is that you can obtain a higher-quality scan from bound documents like books.  Ordinarily you would have to place the book face down on your scanner’s glass and, perhaps, press down on the scanner’s lid to obtain a high-quality copy. This can damage the book’s binding and can also place the scanner’s lid and hinge at risk of damage. Some scanners and multifunction printers have implemented “pantograph” lid hinges so that the lid can be lifted over bound documents.

The TopShot scanning system would be at an advantage when you are dealing with very old and fragile documents; and would lend itself to those of us who deal with antiquarian books and similar material.

There is also the ability to use the scanner as a “white-box” photography studio for photographing small objects. HP are targeting this feature at online traders who want to get pictures of the goods they have for sale so they can populate their online catalogues or eBay sites. It would also please users who write blogs or Web articles discussing particular objects; people who are creating documents like inventories, manuals and catalogues or working with article databases.

The first implementation of this scanning technology will be in the form of the HP TopShot LaserJet Pro 200 colour laser multifunction printer. Like what is common with devices that offer “cutting-eddge” features, some other features tend to go by the wayside. In this example, the printer was less than spectacular judging from what I read of the site. Here, it didn’t have auto-duplex printing nor was the printing speed all that quick.

Of course, this printer has the HP ePrint functionality and the ability to work with mobile devices using AirPrint, Google’s CloudPrint or the HP ePrint Home & Biz mobile app. I would also like to see the TopShot scanning mechanism available as a dedicated device that is either connected directly to the host computer or to a network, which could allow it to work as a complementary tool for those of us who have good multifunction printers.

The big question with TopShot is the quality of document scans or object pictures taken using this setup compared to traditional setups. Could a TopShot printer yield a better electronic image or copy of a page compared to a regular scanner or multifunction printer? Could the TopShot take a better quality picture of a small object than a regular digital camera user working with a “white-box” setup?

Buyer’s Guide–Buying a printer for your small business


You might be at that position where the computer printer at your small business is “on its last legs” or becoming impossible to run economically. On the other hand, you may find you are working your existing printer harder and need to consider a machine that is suited to your current workload.

Similarly, as the end of the financial year approaches, you will face advertising from computer resellers and retailers; and office-supply stores for technology like printers at very enticing prices, usually to allow businesses to buy capital equipment that can be quickly offset against their income for tax purposes. This can become more intense whenever the government announces significant tax breaks for business owners when they purchase capital equipment.

At this point, you could easily make a mistake concerning the purchase of a printer and end up buying the wrong machine for your needs. I have prepared this buyers’ guide so you can be sure you are getting the right printer to suit your business’s needs and be able to use a machine that gives you more “bang for the buck”.

Printer classes

Laser printers

HP LaserJet Pro 1560 printer

HP LaserJet Pro 1560 monochrome laser printer

A laser printer uses a xerographic dry-printing mechanism to print the image to the paper, in a similar way to how the classic photocopier worked. But they use a laser or, in cheaper printers, an LED to illuminate the photostatic drum with the computer-generated image to be printed.

Colour laser printers use four of these mechanisms to imprint the four colours and some cheaper versions may use only one drum and four toners to print the same page; which will take longer to come out.

This class of printer is typically known for printing many copies of “press-quality” documents and has started the “desktop-publishing” revolution.

It is worth knowing that some laser printers will use a cartridge which has an integrated drum as well as the toner supply while others like most of the Brother range will use a separately-replaceable drum unit. With the latter model, you may have to factor in the cost of the drum unit which will occur later on in the machine’s life; usually after 17000-25000 pages.

Business Inkjet printers

HP OfficeJet 6500

HP OfficeJet 6500 business inkjet multifunction printer

This class of inkjet printer is pitched primarily at business users and uses high-capacity cartridges and is optimised for a high duty cycle. They will also have business-target functionality like advanced fax functionality and the ability to work with advanced networks.

Consumer Inkjet printers

Canon PIXMA MX-350 multifunction printer

Canon PIXMA MX-350 multifunction printer with fax

Typically this class of network printer will be optimised for photographic printing and have inks that reproduce photos well. But on the other hand, they will be optimised for a low duty cycle with low-capacity ink cartridges. If they have fax functionality, this functionality will be very basic and as far as network connectivity is concerned, these printers will be suited to a basic small network.

Buying dilemmas that a business owner can face

As a business owner, you may face some buying dilemmas when you choose certain printers. This is especially as manufacturers design printers, especially multifunction printers, that effectively have similar capabilities to others of a different class. Here, the prices for the machines are similar and they may have similar print speeds or functionalities. But there may be certain key differences like the cost to run the machine or the machine’s prowess at particular print jobs.

The two main examples of this are: a high-end fax-equipped consumer inkjet multifunction like the HP Photosmart Premium Fax C410a ( an ePrint-enabled successor to the HP Photosmart Premium Fax C309a full-duplex inkjet printer) and a network-capable business inkjet multifunction like the HP OfficeJet 6500A Series; or a high-end business inkjet multifunction like the HP OfficeJet Pro 8500 Series and en entry-level colour laser multifunction like the HP Colour LaserJet Pro CM1415fnw.

High-end consumer inkjet vs a business inkjet

HP Photosmart Premium Fax C410 consumer inkjet printer

HP Photosmart Premium Fax C410 - a high-end consumer inkjet multifunction printer

A high-end consumer inkjet printer will be optimised for photo printing whereas a low-end networkable business inkjet will be primarily targeted at printing large runs of documents. This will affect ink-cartridge capacity, machine durability, functionality and printer throughput in many ways.

The former printer will typically have five or more inks and these inks will typically be in lower-capacity cartridges which need replacing more often than the four inks used in a low-end business inkjet printer. I would still suggest that businesses prefer the models with separately-replaceable ink cartridges because each ink can be replaced as needed.

As well, these consumer-level printers will typically have functions that make it easier to print pictures directly from a digital camera whether it’ is “tethered” by a USB cable or one takes the “film” (memory card) out of the camera. Some of these printers may offer the ability to print from a mobile phone via Bluetooth whether through integrated circuitry or an optional Bluetooth module.

HP OfficeJet 6500a business inkjet printer

HP OfficeJet 6500a - a modest-priced business inkjet printer

It may be worth knowing that some business-level inkjets are acquiring this kind of functionality but most of these printers won’t turn out the high-quality prints from digital cameras. Here, this functionality may be useful for applications where print quality doesn’t matter like hardcopy proofs that are used for “shortlisting” pictures for a project.

I would consider the premium consumer-level inkjet printer as a business printer if you rely on it for turning out high-quality digital prints whether from your PC or your digital camera and don’t do much printing on it. If you want the best of both worlds, you could get by with a dedicated photo-optimised printer for photographic jobs and a business-grade multifunction printer for regular business printouts.

High-end business inkjet vs an entry-level colour laser

An example of this situation is HP’s OfficeJet Pro 8500a inkjet and the HP Colour LaserJet Pro CM1415fnw.

HP OfficeJet Pro 8500a Plus multifunction inkjet printer

HP OfficeJet Pro 8500a Plus - a hign-end business inkjet multifunction printer

These printers have a similar throughput to each other when printing pages and also turn out a similar copy quality for the documents that are printed. It doesn’t matter whether the documents are ordinary text documents or documents filled with graphics. There may be some glaring functionality differences like the support for duplex operation or memory type. In this example, the OfficeJet Pro 8500a had “full duplex” functionality where it could print on both sides of a sheet of paper and scan both sides of a printed document whereas the LaserJet Pro CM1415fnw could only print or scan one side of a page. Conversely, the LaserJet Pro used flash memory for its fax-related features like no-paper receive, “fax vault” or send-later while the OfficeJet Pro used regular RAM memory for the same functions.

HP LaserJet Pro CM1415fnw colour laser multifunction printer

HP LaserJet Pro CM1415fnw - an example of an entry-level colour laser multifunction printer

The cost-per-page for an entry-level colour laser printer is slightly cheaper than a high-end business inkjet that is fed the high-capacity cartridges although manufacturers like HP are  implementing ink cartridges in these printers that have a similar or better cost-per-page to the laser printers.  On the other hand, the inkjet is more flexible with print media than the laser because it doesn’t use any heat to bond the marking material to the paper. This can make it useful for printing short-run documents to glossy material or printing out labels and transparencies.

Dedicated printer vs multifunction printers

An increasing number of printers on the market, like most of the printers I have reviewed on this site, are of the “multifunction” type with a built-in scanner mechanism. Here, these printers will be able to scan to the computer or work as convenience light-duty photocopiers. Most of the business-focused multifunction printers are able to work as fax machines and these units typically are equipped with an automatic document feeder.

Compare this with the dedicated printers which just print from a computer. This class of printer is typically represented by laser printers or some photo-grade inkjet printers pitched at the graphic arts users.

A multifunction printer can work well as an all-round “workhorse” printer for most office applications whereas a dedicated printer can serve “infill” requirements that the multifunction cannot achieve. For example, you could use a colour inkjet multifunction printer as the main office printer in a doctor’s office while you have a monochrome laser printer turning out health-insurance forms and accounts that are part of the workflow. Similarly, you could use an A3 colour inkjet printer for turning out plans, signs and similar documents while you use a regular A4 multifunction for regular printing needs.

Features worthy of note

Auto-duplex printing

A feature that is becoming common amongst a lot of printers is auto-duplex printing. Here, the printer is able to automatically “flip” the page to print on the reverse side of the paper. This has become popular as a paper-saving measure but some of us may find it of value as a desktop-publishing benefit.

This is demonstrably so with laser printers like the Brother HL4150CDN colour laser that I recently reviewed. Here, the printer can print “to the edge” yet work on both sides of the page. As well, laser printers don’t have to “dwell” for up to 15 seconds to allow the ink to dry, thus it doesn’t have significant impact on print speed. Infact the previously-mentioned Brother printer could work both sides of two pages at once and with this, there is effectively no throughput penalty if you intend to do duplex or booklet printing.

Some inkjet printers, namely HP printers, may require a non-printed margin at the top and bottom of the page for auto-duplex printing. This is perceived to permit reliable paper handling but can be a problem if you intend to print landscape documents or “work to the edge” in your documents. It is also worth noting that some printers such as cheaper high-throughput colour lasers may only be able to use this function for the common document paper sizes like A4 or Letter.

At the moment, it is worth noting that not many of these colour laser printers that have auto-duplex printing can print on both sides of small-page “flyer-size” documents like A5, DL or postcard. This is usually because the auto-duplex mechanisms are not able to reliably push the small sheets of paper through the colour laser printing mechanism in order to print on both sides of the flyer.

It may be worth knowing that some high-end A4 multifunction printers will be likely to have “full duplex” functionality. This means that they will have auto-duplex printing as well as an automatic document feeder that can scan both sides of a page. This typically leads to functions like automatic “both-sides” copying and faxing.

Use as the business fax machine

Brother MFC-7460DN monochrome laser multifunction printer

Brother MFC-7460DN monochrome laser multifunction printer

Firstly, most of the multifunction printers that appeal to the business user will have an integrated fax functionality. This can be of use if that old fax machine has nearly “had it” or is becoming costly to run due to its use of the thermal-transfer tape.

Infact, the purchase of a low-end plain-paper fax that uses this kind of printing is really a false economy because these fax machines will work through the thermal-transfer tape even if a page is partially written on. Instead, a fax-equipped multifunction printer uses the ink or toner when and where it needs to mark the document.

As well, it will save on bench space because you don’t have to have a separate machine to receive your faxes on. This is an important requirement for small offices and shops where this space can be at a premium.

It is also worth knowing that the inkjet and colour-laser multifunction printers that have the fax functionality are capable of receiving and transmitting faxes in colour to businesses equipped with similarly-capable equipment. Here, if you select “Colour Fax” on these machines, they will transmit the document according to “best-case” rules where if the receiving machine isn’t colour-capable, the transmission will succeed with the document being in monochrome. Other examples of these printers offering increased value for money as a small-business fax machine include the business class printers offering a “fax-vault” function where you can set the unit to hold received documents in memory and print them when required; or “print-to-fax” functions or “fax-to-computer” functions so you can fax a document from your computer or capture a faxed document to your computer without reprinting it.

Of course, these machines will have the expected fax functionality and can work with a dedicated fax line or a shared phone line, including support for “distinctive ring” dedicated-fax-number setups like Telstra’s Faxstream Duet.

What to be careful of

The two-cartridge colour inkjet printer

A lot of inexpensive consumer and small-business inkjet printers still use two cartridges for their printing setup. One of these cartridges is the black cartridge while the other is a “tri-colour” ink cartridge that houses the cyan, magenta and yellow inks in one plastic body.

The main problem with this design is that if one colour runs out in the colour cartridge, you have to replace the whole cartridge even if there is plenty of ink remaining for the other colours. It can become more exacerbating if you print material using your business’s trad dress which will be dominant in particular colours.

This may be OK for an occasionally-used printer but should be avoided if you use your printer frequently. Instead, look for a midrange printer that uses four or more ink cartridges with each colour in its own cartridge.

Wi-Fi-only network connectivity

Another feature common with inexpensive network multifunction printers is to provide Wi-Fi as the only network connection method. This is more so with the printers that are positioned at the consumer end of the market.

There are a few limitations with this setup. One is that you have to run a Wi-Fi network to obtain the benefits of network connectivity and this can be fraught with problems because of Wi-Fi being a radio based method. For example, walls made out of double-brick, cinder-block or reinforced concrete can play havoc with a Wi-Fi link; as can metal-reflective insulation. This limits the ability to connect the printer to your business network using alternative network technologies like Ethernet or HomePlug powerline networking.

As well, a lot of these printers require the user to configure them for the wireless network by connecting them to a host computer and running manufacturer-supplied software before they will work with that network. The exception to this rule for most of these printers is Wi-Fi network segments that use WPS “push-to-connect” setup, where you may push a button on the printer or select a menu option to start the configuration process. This is although the HP ePrint-enabled Wi-Fi-only consumer printers like the Photosmart Wireless-E B110a economy printer and the HP Envy 100 (D410) slimline printer do support configuration for non-WPS wireless networks from the control panel.

Recommendations for most businesses

General-office work

I would recommend a midrange network-connected business inkjet multifunction printer with four ink cartridges and auto-duplex printing for a “general-use” workhorse printer. It may be OK to use a high-end consumer printer or low-end business inkjet for low-traffic applications like a secondary printer.

A photo-optimised consumer printer like a Canon PiXMA or HP Photosmart may be good as a secondary printer for applications where you value high-quality photo prints with the full saturation. Some manufacturers may offer a dedicated photo-optimised printer but typically these can be very expensive and are pitched at the graphic-arts industries.

A dedicated monochrome laser printers can be useful for printing out forms or documents as what would be required of medical, legal or similar professions. Here, it would be wise to look for auto-duplex-equipped units if you turn out many multipage documents like most legal documents. As well, I would recommend that these machines are network-connected if you have or intend to have two or more computer workstations that will turn out the documents.

HP OfficeJet 7000 wide-format printer

HP OfficeJet 7000 A3 wide-format inkjet printer

If you don’t care about colour printing but turn out many documents, you could get by with a monochrome laser multifunction printer like the recently-released Brother units or the HP LaserJet M1212nf that I had previously reviewed. Then if you want to do colour printing at a later date, you could add on a dedicated colour printer like the HP OfficeJet 6000 inkjet; HP OfficeJet 7000 A3 inkjet or Brother HL-4150CDN laser “desktop-publishing workhorse”.

Promoting your business yourself

You may want to use a colour laser printer as a promotion tool for your business. I have infact written up an article about why it is worth considering these printers as a buying option. Here, it would be a good idea to stick to high-throughput colour laser printers like the Brother HL-4150CDN especially if you do a lot of your own short-run publishing, including “infill” print runs.

You may want to take advantage of the larger A3 page size as a paper size for signage and similar material. It may even come in handy within the office for turning out large spreadsheets or business charts that can have more detail. Here, you may look at a single-tray A3 multifunction like the HP OfficeJet 7500 for occasional A3 use or a dual-tray A3 multifunction like the Brother MFC-6490CW or dedicated A3 printer like the HP OfficeJet 7000 if you do turn out a lot of A3 material.

Brother MFC-6490CW A3 inkjet multifunction printer

Brother MFC-6490CW A3 inkjet multifunction printer


In simple terms, I would suggest that you check how much the printer will cost to run; such as the price of replacement ink or toner cartridges; the availability of high-capacity cartridges and the kid of cartridges used and other cost-saving practices like auto-duplex

Then make sure that your printer can suit your current needs as well as allowing for future needs.Here, you can then own and run the right printer that will serve your business’s needs for many years without being a drain on your business’s cashflow.

Product Review–HP LaserJet Pro CM1415fnw colour laser multifunction printer


I am reviewing the Hewlett-Packard LaserJet Pro CM1415fnw colour laser multifunction printer which is an entry-level colour laser multifunction printer that is enabled for HP’s ePrint and Apple’s AirPrint “driver-free” network printing technologies.

HP LaserJet Pro CM1415fnw colour laser multifunction printer

Print Scan Copy Fax /
Paper Trays Connections
Colour Colour Colour Colour 1 x A4 USB 2.0
Laser xerographic 1200 dpi Resolution   Super G3 with colour receive   Ethernet
802.11g WPA2 WPS Wi=Fi
  Automatic Document Feeder   HP ePrint   IPv6 ready

ePrint functionality is available with a firmware update available after December 13 2010.


All prices are quoted in Australian dollars as GST-inclusinve recommended retail price at time of publishing.


The machine’s standard price $599

Inks and Toners

  Price Pages
Black $94.34 2000
Cyan $89.57 1300
Magenta $89.57 1300
Yellow $89.57 1300


There are no fees or charges associated with the HP ePrint service.

The printer itself

User interface

HP LaserJet CM1415fnw touchscreen control panel

The touchscreen control panel is the only user interface for this printer

This printer has a user interface that breaks away from the typical multifunction printer that I have reviewed. Here, it uses a colour touchscreen user-interface as the main control panel. The only real hardware switch that exists on the printer is the power on-off switch on the side.

I would say that this has been brought on through the popularity of touchscreen smartphones amd tablet MIDs based on the Apple iOS, Android and  Windows Phone 7 platforms. The user interface also is augmented with quick-navigation touch-buttons that light up as required in a “pinball-machine” manner so you can get to the home screen, browse pages on some menus or cancel an operation.

This has allowed HP to apply design flexibility when it comes to integrating the ePrint print-apps functionality which I will be talking about later. As well, HP are able to use a smaller control panel area on a desktop laser multifunction printer while avoiding the problem of reducing the machine’s ergonomics and useability. 

Network connectivity

The printer can work with Ethernet or 802.11g WPA2 Wi-Fi networks. When you enrol the printer in to a Wi-Fi network and you need to enter a WPA-PSK passphrase, you have an alpbabetic keypad on the touchscreen to enter this detail. If the Wi-Fi router or access point supports WPS “quick-setup”, this printer does support the functionality.

It is also worth noting that if you connect the printer to a network via the Ethernet connection, this automatically overrides the Wi-Fi connection. This will mean that you don’t have to do any further configuration if you find that Wi-Fi is too unreliable and you decide to connect it to an Ethernet or HomePlug connection instead.

There could be an option for the user to set up the printer to become a Wi-Fi access point if the printer is connected to the network via an Ethernet connection. This can come in handy if the printer is used in an area where there is insufficient signal strength for the wireless network and it is connected to the network via an Ethernet or HomePlug link.

Walk-up functions


This unit is capable of working as a basic laser-based colour copier but as the ID copy function as its unique feature.

ID copy

One feature that is peculiar to this machine so far is an “ID copy function” where you can copy both sides of a small document like a business card, ID card, passport or endorsed cheque on to one side of an A4 sheet of paper. This feature has become more important as most business transactions are increasingly requiring one of the parties to present an identification document.

Here, you place one side of the document on the left side of the scanner glass then touch START. The machine will scan that one side, then you turn the document over and place it on the right side of the scanner glass and touch “Done”. Then the machine will turn out a 1:1 copy of both sides of that document.

At the moment, this function doesn’t support the ability to scan both sides of an ID document on to one file or send both sides of an ID document as a fax.

Book-friendly automatic-document-feeder lid

This printer has the typical automatic document feeder that is part of the lid, But it has been also designed so that the lid is able to lift up rather than be hinged in the conventional manner. This can come in handy when you copy, fax from or scan bound documents like books.


The fax subsystem uses flash memory rather than RAM to store faxes that are to be sent or received faxes. This effectively eliminates the vulnerability of received or pending faxes to a power failure which is a common issue with most fax equipment. It therefore supports a comprehensive “fax vault” function which allows the user to release received faxes upon entry of a password, thus avoiding the situation of confidential faxes falling in to the wrong hands.

There are a few limitations however such as the inability to send colour faxes and no support for T.37 or 7.38 Internet faxing. This latter function would allow the fax to work with IP-based telephony setups that are going to become the norm over the next few years.

USB port and walk-up printing / scanning

The USB port on the front of the machine allows one to print a document or photo held on a USB thumb drive or scan to a USB thumb drive. This function could be augmented with a card slot for memory cards or PictBridge “print-from-camera” functionality.

It doesn’t seem to allow the user to start a scan job which ends up at a nominated computer from the control panel. This is a feature which I consider a serious omission because all of the network-enabled multifunction printers that I have reviewed other than this machine do allow the user to specify which computer a scan job ends up at and what application is to benefit from the image.

Quick-forms and HP Print Apps

This unit has a “quick forms” functionality for printing out stationery like graph paper, ruled paper for handwriting, checklists and music manuscript paper. Like the other HP printers, the graph paper and music paper is relatively limited in what you can specify like 5mm or 1/8” for graph paper; or 10 staves in portrait or 8 staves in landscape for music paper.

The HP ePrint setup allows users to download “print apps” which allow a user to print out documents like newspapers, stationery, colouring pages and the like from the printer’s control panel. It also gives the printer a unique email address which works as an “email-to-print” service in a similar vein to the previously-reviewed HP Photosmart B110a. The “email-to-print” service could support a “fax vault” function to delay release of jobs unless a code is entered in to the machine.

I would like to see this printer become equipped with functionality which allows controlled or accounted ePrint job release so it can become a public printer for use with wireless hotspots and other public networks. Here, it could then be feasible for the organisation who runs the hotspot to charge for printouts to recover running costs, use a branded “drop-box” Web page for users to submit print jobs to print or even integration with hotel billing systems.

This issue, alongside the availabilty of many quality walk-up printing apps for this printer class, will be likely to appear as the ePrint platform matures over time.

Computer functions

Driver Installation and Performance

The printer comes with driver CDs for the main operating systems and supports Windows 7 and MacOS X Snow Leopard. It could use the same installation method that was used with the LaserJet M1210 Series multifunction printer where the driver software was kept on the flash memory rather than on CDs that come with the machine.

The drivers offer the basic functionality expected for a small-business printer and don’t offer a confidential-print mode where jobs can he released at the printer using a user-determined password.

Printer performance and image quality

The printer does work efficiently when a print job comes in while it is in standby mode. Here, it will take 12 seconds from when you start a document-based print job at your computer for it to start printing. Then it takes 5 seconds per page to print the job.

It will take a longer time to print highly-detailed photos or other bitmaps and ends up powering down the print engine between each page,  but is quick with text-based material.

When the printer turns out photographic material on plain paper, the images come out darker with colours that  are saturated stronger in comparison to the other colour laser printers that I have tested. The dark print output is a similar issue with laser printers when they print this material on plain paper.

Other issues of note here

The printer is likely to jam if the paper is restocked while it is printing, a common practice that most people do if the printer runs out of paper during the print job. Here, you have to wait until the pages stop coming out of the printer and the motor stops before adding paper during a print job or fax-receive even if the machine’s display shows the “paper-out” message.

Like a lot of printers that I have used and reviewed, this printer could benefit from more flash memory especially as the cost of this kind of memory comes down.

A problem I have noticed with this printer, along with other Hewlett-Packard LaserJet printers is that you can’t buy a “high-capacity” toner cartridge for these printers. This may be of limitation to users who either want to run high-capacity cartridges for reduced “per-page” printing costs or avoid the need to frequently buy and reload toner cartridges in their machines. It may also affect users who are used to inkjet printers that have high-capacity cartridges as an option or users who like to run standard cartridges but need to run high-capacity cartridges for intense print runs.

Conclusion and Placement Notes

This printer may come in handy as an organisation’s first colour-laser multifunction printer or as a low-duty “quality laser” secondary multifunction printer like a reception-desk unit. The unit’s “fax vault” function could appeal to organisations who handle confidential data but have contract staff coming through the premises “out of hours”.

It wouldn’t work well as a primary printer on a site where many jobs have to be turned out in succession.  The lack of an auto-duplex mechanism would impair its ability as a publishing printer and would reduce its “green” credentials a bit.

Therefore I would find that this colour laser printer can become a difficult option to consider for an entry-level colour laser multifunction printer for a small business especially as the high-end colour inkjet multifunctions that are pitched at thsi class of user are  approaching it for speed, quality and print economy.

Product Review–Brother MFC-9840CDW colour laser multifunction printer


I am reviewing the Brother MFC-9840CDW colour laser multifunction printer which is pitched as a general high-throughput document “workhorse” for a small to medium business.

Brother MFC-9480CDW colour laser "document centre"

Print Scan Copy Fax /
Paper Trays Connections
Colour Colour Colour Colour 1 x A4 USB
Laser Xerographic 2400dpi Super 3G fax Optional high-capacity A4 tray Ethernet
802.11g WPA2 WPS wireless
Auto-Duplex Double-side automatic document feeder POP3/SMTP email-based fax (T.37)



RRP: $1599

Optional Extras:

High-capacity secondary paper tray: $299

Inks and Toners

Standard High-Capacity
Price Pages Price Pages
Black $112.95 2000 $171.95 5000
Cyan $131.95 1500 $258.95 4000
Magenta $131.95 1500 $258.95 4000
Yellow $131.95 1500 $258.95 4000
Drum Kit $356.95 17000
Belt Kit $179.95 50000
Waste Toner Kit $29.95 20000

The printer itself

Network connectivity

This machine can connect to a network using Ethernet cable or 802.11g Wi-Fi wireless. When you enter the WPA-PSK network password, you can use the numeric keypad to enter it “SMS-style”. I have tested it on Wi-Fi wireless and it hasn’t “gone off the radar” on the network even if it goes in to energy-save mode. Still, I would prefer printers like this one to be connected to am Ethernet or HomePlug powerline network rather than using a wireless network.

User interface

The printer uses a bitmap monochrome display which is backlit using a white light and it can make the display easier to read. As well, the typefaces for the display are easy to read even for people with limited sight. The keyboard is also laid out in a logical manner and is easy to read.

Brother MFC-9840CDW Control panel

Control panel

Brother MFC-9840CDW control panel with LCD lit

Control panel with LCD display lit - easy to read

Fax functionality and IP-faxing

The unit has regular support for Super G3 colour faxing over the regular telephone line service to a standard of a business-class fax machine.  This unit can only accept fax documents from the scanner or a computer which uses the “print-to-fax” driver supplied by Brother.

It has inherent support for email-based (T.37) IP-fax operation as well as regular Super G3 colour faxing over phone lines. This is whether it works as a receiving / transmitting endpoint or as an “off-ramp” to regular fax machines. Users can enter their destination email addresses from the control panel by using the numeric keypad in a manner similar to entering text on a mobile phone. But, as I have mentioned before in the Brother interview and an article on IP-based faxing, this feature is very hard to provision and use. The owner needs to establish a separate email address for best results as well as know the SMTP and POP3 details for their email service. Also, at the moment, it doesn’t support any colour “fax-over-email” functionality because as far as I know, this standard doesn’t have any support for colour transmissions.

When you fax from the unit, there is twenty buttons for one-touch dialling but there is also a “shift” key to gain access to a further twenty fax numbers for one-touch dialling. This also works in addition to a large “speed-dial” registry for other regularly-used fax numbers. This registry can also handle email addresses for T.37-compliant IP-based faxing as an alternative to regular telephone numbers.

Printing colour photographs from a digital camera

The unit doesn’t have a colour LCD display nor does it have SD card slots for printing of images from digital-camera cards. But it uses an up-front USB port which allows you to print images from PictBridge-enabled digital cameras, camcorders and mobile phones. The same port can be used to print TIFF, PDF, JPEG and XPS files from USB memory keys but you would have to know your desired image’s or document’s file name and where it is on the USB memory key.

When you print photographs, the pictures come out rather dark and this may be a consequence when a colour laser printer is used to do this job on plain paper. It can be good enough when you need “there-and-then” hard copy of pictures on a digital camera. As well, like all other multifunction printers you aren’t able to send pictures by email or fax from the USB slot or PictBridge.

Scanner and automatic document feeder

The scanner uses a conventional fluorescent lamp to illuminate the document rather than the LED “bar” used in all of the other multifunction printers that I have reviewed. This may yield benefits by providing even lighting for scanning the work but can be requiring replacement on a regular interval for a busy machine.

There is a double-sided automatic document feeder but I have noticed that it has some problems in its use. Here, it can cause some documents to “buckle” up when they are being turned over and this behaviour is more so with older documents that are being scanned. This behaviour is also highlighted with the access panel at the top of the automatic document feeder “creeping open” during the duplex cycle. The ADF has a separate slot where the document partially comes out during the “turnover” cycle. It is also worth knowing that it takes 17 seconds / page to scan both sides of a regular office document.

The reason I am paying attention to this is because most businesses may want to use a double-sided automatic document feeder to expedite the scanning of documents for electronic archiving or optical-character-recognition. Similarly, they may want to use this feature to fax or copy both sides of a document.

Duplex automatic document feeder

Duplex automatic document feeder with narrow slot for paper to emerge when "turned over"


The printer is very reliable although, because it uses an older colour-laser print engine, the cost of replacement toner cartridges is more expensive than the HL-4150 machine that I reviewed previously.

Another penalty of the older mechanism design is a longer duplex-print cycle where only one page at a time can be printed on both sides. Other than that, the printer is very reliable especially when it comes to large print jobs. Infact I have sent through a single-side print of a 225-page document then followed it with the same document printed double-sided and the printer worked very smoothly.

Limitations and Points of Improvement

For a machine of the price range, it could benefit from a colour LCD display and could also benefit from a memory card reader for “ad-hoc” printing from digital camera memory cards. The automatic documet feeder could do with some improvement for a high-duty-cycle type especially when it comes to reliability when doing a double-sided scan of documents printed on older paper.

It, like most other fax-enabled multifunctions, could have support for a “fax-from-mixed-source” function where a monochrome or colour fax job to a single destination could be constructed from document pages scanned via the automatic document feeder;  document pages scanned directly on the scanner glass (such as bound or stapled documents and till receipts) and / or digital images from a digital camera or user-attached flash storage.

Conclusion and Placement Notes

This multifunction printer does work well if you intend to use it as a printer for many short-run colour jobs or use it as a high-traffic high-usage machine and not do much in the way of archiving older paper documents to electronic form.

The printer could be cheaper to run as far as materials are concerned if a business expects to buy or specify it for use as the only document centre for their operations.

Product Review–Brother HL-4150CDN Colour Laser Printer


I am reviewing the Brother HL-4150CDN colour laser printer which is a dedicated printer based on Brother’s latest colour laser-printing “engine”.

There is a more-expensive “deluxe” variant of this printer available as the HL-4570CDW and this machine is  equipped with 802.11g/n WPS-enabled wireless networking out of the box.

Brother HL-4150CDN colour laser printer

Print Paper Trays Connections
Colour 1 x A4 Direct (USB)
Laser Xerographic Manual-feed tray Ethernet network
Auto-Duplex Optional high-capacity A4 tray IPv6 ready




RRP: AUD$599

Optional Extras:

High-capacity secondary paper tray: $249

Inks and Toners

Standard High-Capacity
Price Pages Price Pages
Black $106.95 2000 $179.95 6500
Cyan $106.95 1500 $299.95 6500
Magenta $106.95 1500 $299.95 6500
Yellow $106.95 1500 $299.95 6500
Drum Kit $259.95 25000
Belt Kit $179.95 50000
Waste Toner Kit $29.95 50000

All prices quoted in Australian Dollars with all taxes inclusive.

The printer itself

The local control console is based around a small LCD user-interface display which shows approximately how much toner there is left as well as the printer’s status. There is a group of buttons used for various functions like walk-up printing, and print-job management.

Brother HL-4150CDN control panel and USB host port detail

Control panel detail

The printer has a USB host port on the front for walk-up printing from a USB memory key. It can print PDF or XPS documents or JPEG and TIFF pictures. You have to use the LCD display to select the document or picture to print from and this can be difficult if you don’t know it by folder location and filename. This is something you have to do as soon as you insert the USB memory key in to the port because it will show the first file in the list of files that you can print when that happens. This function could be improved on by providing PictBridge functionality to print from digital cameras or mobile phones using the camera’s control surface.  <optional detail on USB port>

It also supports “confidential job release” where you can send the job to the printer but it isn’t printed out unless you are at the machine. The small keypad makes this function more difficult to operate because you have to “pick ‘n’ choose” numbers to enter the document-release password. This could be improved on by use of the USB HID device class to support the connection of a keyboard or numeric keypad to the USB port for entering this password.

Similarly, this same USB port could be used to connect USB flash storage for print jobs so as to provide increased print-queue capacity and fail-safe printing; or a Bluetooth radio module to allow a user to send print jobs from their phone.

The printer would take between 30 and 40 seconds to start printing even if it went in to a standby mode after a long period of inactivity.It will take 5 seconds per page for the printer to turn out a job, This is even if you use the inbuilt automatic duplexer where it will “draw in” and print the reverse side of two pages thus avoiding any time penalty associated with double-side printing.

The duplex-print functionality has support for a “booklet-print” function. This is where the printer scales the document so that two pages fit on each side of the sheet of paper and are sequenced in a book-like manner. Then the pages will be printed using the automatic-duplex mechanism. It can work effectively for documents with up to 6 or 8 pages and comes in to its own with food-service menus, order-of-service sheets and similar documents.

If the printer runs out of paper during a print job, it immediately continues printing from where it has left off once the user puts new paper in the paper tray and closes that tray. There is no need to press any button to continue printing.

Toner cartridges on drum-unit "drawer"

Toner cartridges on drum-unit "drawer"

In most cases, the printer is easy to service and maintain. The drum unit works as easy-to-load toner cartridge drawer so you don’t have to grope inside the machine to change cartridges. may have to remove drum unit and reach in to machine to remove jammed paper. There is a drop-down back panel for access to paper in the duplex mechanism but it can be dropped down for print jobs where a straight-through paper path is needed like envelopes.

The standard print-driver software is easy to use for most job-specification requirements but if you needed to use functions like Secure Print (confidential job release), you have to go to an “advanced” window to set these options. One feature that I like is that if an option is enabled, it is listed in blue on the left side of the window.

Brother HL-4150CDN Driver setup screen

Driver setup screen

Limitations and Points of Improvement

Like most printers on the market, this printer could support “CD-free” setup, whether through storing the driver set on flash-memory or using a link to the Internet to download the drivers.  As well, it could have the option to support “print-to-the-edge” printing for use in running off “full-bleed” print jobs or printing photographs.

As well, when I talked of the control panel and USB port earlier in the review, the printer could make better use of the USB port for activites like PictBridge printing.

Conclusion and Placement Notes

This is one colour laser printer that I would recommend as a dedicated short-order / “as-needed” publishing machine for a small business, church or other similar organisation. It doesn’t matter whether the organisation has a multifunction inkjet printer or monochrome laser printer for use with their ordinary printing needs or not.

Similarly this colour laser printer could come in handy for organisations who end up printing out “infill copies” of material that is printed elsewhere due to delays or short-runs or printing out test-runs of PR material before it is sent out for printing.

The high-capacity toner cartridges and the high-capacity paper-tray option can then come in to their own when you find that you do more of these print jobs frequently.

Colour laser printers–Are they a luxury or not?

I have received two colour laser printers from Brother International on loan for me to review for this site. These are able to turn out large runs of high-quality colour documents very quickly but a lot of mainstream business users are hesitant to deploy them in the office. They may be used by people in the publishing sector as another tool for turning out proofs of publications. As well, larger organisations may provide a single machine for use by the marketing department for printing up marketing material. But typically, a lot of businesses limit their use because of the cost to buy and run these machines. There is also a fear that employees will use the colour laser printer for running off party invitations or publication material for their own school or community effort, rather than to further the needs of the employer’s business. As well, not many small businesses and community organisations do consider the purchase of a colour laser printer even though they may need to turn out larger colour print runs. Often they end up overworking a colour inkjet multifunction printer or outsource the job to a printing service whenever they do a large print run. A key user case for these printers would be anyone in the real-estate business. This also includes anyone who specialises in short-term or long-term property rental. These people would be relying on these kinds of printers as they turn out many different documents associated with the sale or rental of a property. But most users could use these machines for creating “as-needed” colour business stationery. Similarly, they could be useful for using colour in the reports and accounts that your business sends out. This could include preserving colour in your organisation’s logo.

Main benefits

Like its monochrome brethren, the colour laser printers have the ability to turn out high-quality printouts of documents and publications in a very quick time. But these units can do the same thing in colour and can work to a standard for proofing or short-run multiple-copy publishing. As well, like the monochrome laser printers, most of these printers can run for a long time before they need the toner replaced. They are also designed to handle large amounts of paper thus allowing for long intervals before you need to replenish the supplies. This also allows the printers to be considered on a “per page” level as being cheap to run and is more so with newer equipment.


One main drawback is that the printers are initially expensive to buy and the cost to replace parts can mount up considerably. As well, because the mechanism has to print the four colours for process printing (cyan, magenta, yellow and black), it is a lot more complicated and this can be of concern with serviceability and reliability. Another limitation is that the availability and cost of special printing media may be limited compared to that for inkjet printers. This is because of the fact that these units use heat to “fix” the image to the media and the special media has to be designed to cope with this situation. In some cases, certain media like vinyl adhesive stickers wouldn’t be available for this class of printer due to the use of plastic as a writing media and also the use of an adhesive in the same media.

Features to look for

There are certain feature that should be considered essential for one of these printers, whether as a dedicated printer or as a multifunction unit. One is for the printer to be able to be connected to the business’s network via a Cat5 Ethernet “blue cable” at least. They may also come with an 802.11g or 802.11n Wi-Fi wireless network that works with WPA2 security and, preferably, WPS quick-setup. Another is for the printer to have an integrated auto-duplex mechanism which allows you to print on both sides of the paper. These should allow the whole of the paper face to be printed on when printing both sides and preferably there should be no time penality for doing double-sided printing. As well, you should be able to buy a high-capacity paper tray for the unit, whether as standard or as an optional extra. There should also be the option to buy high-yield toner cartridges so, with the combination of the high-capacity paper tray and these cartridges, you don’t have to attend to the machine frequently.


It is still worth considering putting the colour laser printer in your printing technology landscape especially if you intend to turn out a large number of short-run or application-specific documents. So have a look at the reviews of the Brother HL-4150CDN colour laser printer and the Brother MFC-9840CDW colour laser multifunction printer and stay tuned to this site for more networked colour laser printer reviews. While you are waiting, any of you can leave comments after this article about your experiences with buying or using a colour laser printer.