Brother HL-L8350CDW review
Poor colour speeds and average quality, but a good-value printer with great mobile support
Small businesses looking for a feature-packed colour laser will have an eye on Brother's HL-L8350CDW. For less than 200, it offers both wired and wireless printing, a claimed 30ppm print speed and top-notch mobile device and cloud support.
AirPrint is enabled by default,and it only took a minute to link the printer to our Google Cloud Print account, via a quick registration service on the well-designed web interface. Using Brother's iPrint&Scan iOS app, we could then print directly from our iPad's camera roll, iTunes file sharing, a web page and even straight from the camera.
The latest version supports iCloud, Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote and OneDrive, and we had no problems logging in to our Dropbox account, remotely viewing our files and printing them.
Brother provides worthy security measures, too: enabling the secure function lock allowed us to create up to 100 PIN-protected user accounts. We could set a page-count limit for each one, and decide whether they were allowed to print in colour, or to use the printer's USB port.
After we disabled colour printing for some users, colour-mode jobs simply wouldn't print for them. They didn't receive an alert on their PC, although a warning message flashed up on the printer's display panel. They could only print by selecting the driver's mono setting.
The web console detailed the number of pages printed by each user, and we could set a lock on the printer's control pad to stop them fiddlingwith settings. Alas, Active Directory authentication isn't supported: if you want this you'll need to step up to Brother's 9000 series of lasers.
Users can also secure their own print jobs by assigning a PIN from the driver panel. They can then walk up to the printer, select their name from the display panel and enter the PIN to release the job.
Quoted print speeds proved achievable for mono prints. Our 30-page Word document was delivered in 58 seconds; in duplex mode it completed at 14.5ppm. The time to first page was between nine and 12 seconds, extending to 20 seconds when the printer had to wake from deep-sleep mode.
Colour proved more of a challenge: frequent pauses while printing our complex 24-page DTP document dropped the overall speed to only 10ppm. The HL-L8350CDW is a noisy printer each page is heralded by a cacophony of whirrs, clicks and clunks and output quality is variable.
Text is pin-sharp, and the Brother handled the tiny 0.1pt and 0.2pt gaps between blocks of black well; however, we found mono photos lacking in detail and marred by banding, and we could see little difference in quality between the driver's 600dpi and interpolated 2,400dpi settings.
Colour printing was better: although banding was still evident, colour photos were vibrant with good levels of detail. Reports with large graphics were equally eye-catching, and our colour chart showed smooth transitions across complex fades.
Brother offers three capacities of consumable: standard cartridges yield very high print costs, with mono and colour pages working out at 2.2p and 13p respectively. The extra-high-yield 6,000-page cartridges drop mono and colour costs to a more acceptable 1.6p and 8.2p per page.
While Brother's HL-L8350CDW loses points for average print quality and slow colour speeds, it remains a tempting choice for small businesses. It offers plenty for a low price, and Brother's mobile and cloud printing features can't be faulted.
This review first appeared in PC Pro magazine issue 253
While Brother’s HL-L8350CDW loses points for average print quality and slow colour speeds, it remains a tempting choice for small businesses. It offers plenty for a low price, and Brother’s mobile and cloud printing features can’t be faulted.
600 x 600dpi A4 colour laser
128MB RAM (max 384MB)
2 x USB2
Monthly duty cycle, 750-4,000 pages
410 x 486 x 313mm (WDH)
1yr on-site warranty
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