Brother HL-L3210CW review: Affordable, but a little simple
Brother makes a good selection of color laser printers and the HL-L3210CW is one of the most affordable. There’s nothing special to look out for – essentially a large white box that can produce many prints at the rate of knots – but it’s inexpensive and doesn’t cost the world to run.
There aren’t any bells and whistles here – features are limited and there is little convenience – but if your budget is limited, there might be enough boxes ticked.
Brother HL-L3210CW review: what do you get for the money?
After you have taken the Brother HL-L3210CW out of the box, all you have to do is unseal the four color toner cartridges. You are already in the right place; All you have to do is pull out the tray, take out each cartridge and remove the protective film, and then put it back in. It’s a slightly more fiddly setup than some of the lasers we’ve seen, but it’s a one-time job and will be done away with quickly.
Otherwise it is an inconspicuous thing: It has a pull-out paper input tray with a capacity of 250 sheets at the bottom, which pulls prints into a tray at the top. It measures a relatively compact 410 x 461 x 252 mm (WDH), can be connected via USB or WLAN and prints with a resolution of 600 x 2,400 dpi.
There’s a display, but it’s a very simple one-line affair and it’s fiddly to use. There cannot be enough information on the screen at one time for you to figure out what is going on without using the buttons to go back and forth.
There is also no duplex printing, which is disappointing given the price. However, if you really want to print on both sides, you can manually insert the paper through a slot on the side.
Brother HL-L3210CW review: how is the print quality?
The print quality is mixed. Black text is a little lighter than other laser printers I’ve tested, which may save toner, but it means the prints aren’t quite as bold as I’d like them to be.
When printing photos, I found that this lighter grade benefited the printer in general, especially when printing lighter skin tones. However, darker areas and blacks were not particularly deep, and slight streaks were visible in larger areas of color, such as a clear blue sky. In order to recognize this, however, you have to look very carefully.
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Brother HL-L3210CW review: what about speed and running costs?
Black and white prints each achieve around 3p, which is about average for a color laser printer in this price range. If you want cheaper prints, you need to look at a black and white-only printer like the HP Neverstop, which prints only a paltry 0.3p per side.
The Brother HL-L3210CW’s color prints are cheaper at 12.8p per print, although this is still much more expensive than printing with an inkjet.
In our speed tests, like most laser printers, the HL-L3210CW was slow to deliver its first page and took 16 seconds to get started. It soon took off, however, printing our 25-page black and white test document at just under 16 pages per minute (pages per minute), which is pretty good. The print speed dropped slightly to 15 pages per minute in our 50-page marathon test.
The Brother also proved to be nimble with color printing and again achieved a speed of 15ppm. It wasn’t quite as quick to produce six 6 by 4 inch color photos that took 28 seconds, and it took 27 seconds to produce a pair of 10 by 8 inch photos, which is miles ahead of most inkjet printers on these larger prints.
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Brother HL-L3210CW review: should I buy one?
The Brother HL-L3210CW is pretty basic, but there is still a lot to like, especially its affordable price and (for a laser printer) its speed and relatively low cost per color page.
However, due to the lack of duplex printing and the cumbersome single-line display, you’d better spend some to get the more user-friendly and flexible HP Color LaserJet M255dw.