Brother HL-L8360CDW review

Average colour quality, but this expandable and well-connected A4 colour laser delivers good speeds and top-notch security measures

Price
£296
  • Wide range of network printing options; Great quality; Lots of security options
  • Lots of consumables; Could be more competitively-priced

Brother's latest L8000 colour lasers deliver heaps of new features that will appeal to both small offices and busy workgroups. Sitting at the top of the tree, the HL-L8360CDW offers great performance, improved colour quality and all the connection options you could possibly want. It can also grow with your needs, as its standard 250-sheet input tray can be supplemented with a 500-sheet tray or a base unit that takes four 520-sheet cassettes.

The printer uses a similar chassis to the HL-L8350CDW, but its 800MHz CPU is twice as fast and memory has been quadrupled to 512MB. This extra muscle showed through in our print tests: where the older HL-L8350CDW only managed a pedestrian 9ppm in our 24-page colour DTP document, the HL-L8360CDW delivered a much faster 29ppm at 600dpi and 27ppm using the driver's interpolated 2400 x 600dpi 'Fine' setting.

Mono prints, meanwhile, lived up to Brother's promises perfectly, with a 31-page Word document printed at 31.5ppm in both resolutions. Duplexing the same document dropped speeds to 15.5ppm; the time to first page for all tests was no more than 12 seconds. Text quality varied depending on the paper: with cheap 75gsm paper we saw a slight dusting around small fonts, but switching to higher-quality 100gsm paper cleared this up completely.

Photos and business graphics, however, looked good regardless of paper weight. Photographs came out with bags of detail and no noticeable banding, even in large single-colour blocks. Some photos looked a little murky but we could improve them using the driver's brightness and contrast sliders. Switching to Fine resolution also helped, particularly with mono photos, exposing greater detail in darker areas.

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There are quite a few consumables to keep track of. As well as four toner cartridges, the image drum tray, transfer belt and toner waste box are all replaceable. Toner costs aren't too bad, though: once you've used up the standard starter cartridges, you can switch to super-high-yield versions, which work out to 1.3p per mono page and 9.4p for colour.

The printer is very simple to configure, although you'll have to choose between wired and wireless operation, as you can't have both interfaces active simultaneously. NFC for tap-to-print is a new feature, AirPrint worked fine on our iPad and we had no problems registering the printer with our Google Cloud Print account from the web interface. We were also easily able to print from our iPad and Lumia 640 Windows mobile phone using Brother's iPrint&Scan app. The iOS app is better featured as along with a handy printer status view, it offers options to print from iCloud, Google Drive, Evernote, OneDrive and Dropbox.

Print controls and security are solid too. Brother's Secure Function Lock 3 feature lets you configure up to 200 user accounts and assign them print profiles, which define permissions for mono and colour printing, as well as page limits and access to Web Connect features for internet printing. The printer supports LDAP and Active Directory authentication plus NFC ID cards, and any attempts to access a denied function via the touchscreen are simply met with a "Function Locked" message. One slight niggle here is that you don't get a local warning message on your desktop when you try to carry out a restricted print function, which could lead to support calls when users don't fully understand why their jobs aren't going through. Another useful feature is confidential document protection, which holds jobs at the printer and only releases them once the user walks up and enters a PIN at the printer.

Brother's HL-L8360CDW is up against some tough competition: the spectacular Xerox VersaLink C400 costs the same but is faster, and delivers superior colour print quality. However, Brother's integrated wired and wireless network support, tough print security measures and wide-ranging great connection options make it a strong choice.

This review originally appeared in PC Pro issue 277

Verdict

Brother's HL-L8360CDW A4 laser printer offers good print speeds and quality. What clinches it though is excellent networking support and great print security.

600dpi A4 colour laser 31ppm colour/mono 800MHz CPU 512MB RAM 6.8cm colour touchscreen Gigabit Ethernet 802.11n wireless NFC 2 x USB 2 duplex 250-sheet drawer 50-sheet MPT rec. monthly duty cycle – 4,000 pages 441 x 486 x 313mm (WDH) 21.9kgs 1yr on-site warranty. Options: 2yr warranty extension, £80 4 x 520-sheet input tray, £580 (all ex VAT)

RUNNING COSTS Super high yield: K toner (9K), £98 C, M, Y toner (6.5K), £175 each drum unit, (50K), £89 belt unit (130K), £37 waste box (50K), £14 Overall cost per A4 page: mono, 1.3p; colour 9.4p

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