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Lifewire / Gannon Burgett
Fast printing (up to 32ppm)
The Brother HL-L2350DW doesn’t offer the bells and whistles of all-in-one printers, but this black and white laser printer can spit out page after page without any hassle and has one of the lowest per-page costs you’ll come across anywhere.
Inkjet printers are more affordable and compact than ever, but if all you need to do is print black and white documents, there’s no better long-term investment than a good monochrome laser printer. Sure, it’s a bit bulkier than some inkjet alternatives, but when you break down the cost on a per-print basis, laser printers are, without question, the most affordable option in the long run.
For this review, I spent more than 40 hours putting the Brother HL-L2350DW to the test to see just how well this entry-level laser printer can perform, day in, day out. Below is my experience with the printer and my subsequent thoughts after printing out more than 500 pages in a matter of weeks.
The Brother HL-L2350DW is about as bland as printers come, but so long as you’re not looking for a statement piece in your dorm room or home office, its neutral, unassuming design isn’t going to be an issue. If anything, the squared-off shape and thoughtful input and output locations make it easier to place on nearly any shelf or on top of any dresser.
The paper tray, which holds up to 250 sheets of letter paper, is at the bottom of the printer and is easily refilled by pulling out the tray and sliding in the new sheets. Small guides on either side can be adjusted to ensure the paper is straight and aligned for when it goes through the printer and/or built-in duplexer, which affords you the ability to print on both sides of the paper.
When prints are complete, they’re fed out of the top of the printer, nearly flat with the top surface. The location of the paper tray and the output tray incredibly beneficial, as it meant I didn’t have to account for extra clearance required by many other printers whose paper sticks out the top or output requires an extra foot in front of the printer.
The display on the top of the printer is a nice touch, but its primitive input makes it a bit of a doozy to navigate through the menu and enter any information required (such as your Wi-Fi password, as I’ll address below). You can only see one line of text at a time and the only options you have for navigating through the menu system is an up, down, and enter button. Even a basic number pad would be a nice touch (with T9 text entry as an option), but thankfully interacting with the printer itself is fairly rare after the initial setup.
Setting up the Brother HL-L2350DW isn’t the smoothest experience on the connectivity front, but thankfully you shouldn’t have to bother with it more than once unless you’re moving the printer around often.
The first step is to place the toner cartridge into the printer. This process is made simple by a helpful visual guide provided with the printer. It’s as easy as removing the cartridge from its wrapper, pulling down the front face of the printer, and guiding the cartridge into place, at which point you’ll hear an audible click.
After plugging in the printer, it’s simply a matter of plugging in the USB cable to the printer if you want a wired connection or opting for the Wi-Fi connectivity if you’re attempting to minimize cables. If going wireless, this is where the aforementioned issues with the display on the top of the printer arise.
Simply put, you won’t find a better value for this entire line of printers from Brother.
While it’s easy enough to navigate to the setup wizard, the hassle comes when looking for your network’s name (SSID) and entering a password, if you have one. To enter the password, you need to cycle through a series of numbers (0-9) before going through the alphabet, both lower-case and capitalized, by tapping the Up and Down buttons on the printer. This process can take quite some time if you have a longer password as I do, but it should only have to be done once so long as you’re not switching between networks often.
During testing, I went through more than 500 sheets of paper (100 percent recycled paper, which was subsequently recycled afterward), sometimes printing upwards of 60 two-sided sheets at once to test the long-term consistency of the HL-L2350DW. My analysis showed Brother’s specifications are right on target in terms of print speed, reliability, and toner usage.
Brother says the HL-L2350DW is capable of printing up to 32 pages per minute; my experience showed this to be exactly the case, give or take two sheets depending on how content-heavy they were (more words/images meant slightly longer print times). Even duplex printing proved to be fast, although obviously cut the per-minute page speed by just over half. Toner usage is difficult to measure precisely, but based on how many pages I printed compared to the average life expectancy, the percentage of toner life left seemed right on target. It’s also worth noting I didn’t experience a single jam throughout my more than 500 pages printed, even with the less-than-premium recycled paper I was using.
Connectivity proved flawless using my home Wi-Fi. Printing worked well across my macOS and Windows computers, and Android and iOS devices, using Google Cloud Print and AirPrint, respectively. Overall, the HL-L2350DW proved itself to be everything it’s advertised as.
The Brother HL-L2450DW has some driver software you can download, but strictly speaking, it’s not necessary. In most cases, your computer should be able to automatically locate and download the drives for you. That was true for both my MacBook Pro and my Windows 10 PC.
The Brother HL-L2350DW retails for $110-120. This puts it on the budget side of monochrome laser printers, but don’t let the price fool you. As I’ve noted above, this printer punches well above its price point, even without considering the efficient per-page price with the toner cartridge.
If basic black and white prints are all you need, the HL-2350DW is a buy-it-for-life printer.
The monochrome laser printer market tends to be focused on all-in-one models, but there are a few other offerings worth taking a look at if the HL-L235DW piques your interest. The most notable one is HP’s LaserJet Pro M102w (see on Amazon).
The LaserJet Pro M102w retails for around $120, making it roughly the same cost as the Brother printer. Other features include wired/wireless connectivity, ability to print up to 23 pages per minute, a 150-sheet paper tray, an LED screen for navigating the menu, and wireless printing from mobile devices. All in all, it’s a solid printer, but the HL-L235DW still wins in nearly every category, making it the preferred choice unless you prefer the aesthetics of the LaserJet Pro M102w.
One of the best values among Brother printers.
Simply put, you won’t find a better value than the HL-L2350DW among Brother’s printers. That said, the entire lineup are tanks that will keep on kicking page after page. If you need an all-in-one that can scan and copy as well, this isn’t the printer for you, but if basic black and white prints are all you need, the HL-2350DW is a buy-it-for-life printer.