The Brother HL-3070CW colour printer is one of the company’s first to use LED technology. Competing with entry-level colour laser printers, the HL-3070CW is reasonably quick and it's easy to set up.
The Brother HL-3070CW prints in the same basic way as any laser: the printer uses toner powder to paint an image onto a rotating drum which is then transferred to paper. Instead of using a laser to paint this image, the HL-3070CW simply uses a line of LEDs; the same type used to backlight the some recent LCD monitors and TVs.
LED printers like the Brother HL-3070CW are allegedly smaller, cheaper, quieter and more durable than their laser counterparts. While the potential maximum print resolution is lower than with lasers, LED technology can actually produce more accurate characters at smaller text sizes.
The technology's benefits are definitely noticeable on the HL-3070CW. For a start, it's about half the height it would be if it was a laser printer. It still has quite a deep footprint. The reduced height makes it easy to replace consumables; just lift the printer's top cover and slide the toners out.
Page yields are still roughly the same; you'll get 2500 pages from the HL-3070CW's black toner (costing $101.95) and 1500 pages from each colour (at $94.95 each). This yields a total running cost of 23.1c, which scrapes in below the running costs of alternatives like the Dell 2130cn and Fuji Xerox DocuPrint C2120.
The printer only has a single-line monochrome LCD, but this is good enough for changing basic settings, navigating the contents of flash drives and locking settings access. You can also access features like Secure Print, which only prints a job once a four-digit PIN is entered, and Reprint, which stores the document for later reproduction. (Unfortunately, these two features can't be used together.)
The Brother HL-3070CW connects over USB, Ethernet and Wi-Fi. Despite the printer's tiny LCD screen, wireless setup is surprisingly easy. The printer defaults to its own ad-hoc network, which can be changed by running the wireless setup assistant directly from the install disc. This will configure the printer to join an existing network or, if your router supports Secure Easy Setup, WPS or AOSS, you can choose one of those automated systems as well. Our only qualm is that the Wi-Fi module is 802.11b, which means it won't be able to stray too far from the Wi-Fi router.
You can also directly print from USB flash drives and PictBridge-compatible devices. File format support includes JPG, PRN, TIFF, XPS and PDF documents. The effort is certainly better than Fuji Xerox's Phaser 3100MFP; there is no support for Word documents or even basic TXT/RTF files.
The front paper cassette has a maximum capacity of 250 sheets. This seems a little on the small side, particularly if you're planning to reach Brother's claimed monthly duty cycle of 25,000 pages.
The Brother HL-3070CW comes with 64MB of memory, which is good enough to handle a steady stream of print jobs in a small workplace. This is user-upgradeable to 576MB via a small side panel; upgrading the memory should let you store a few more Reprint jobs.
|Print Speed Results|
|Fuji Xerox DocuPrint C2120||$878.90||Laser||20||20||18.2||18.2|
|HP Colour LaserJet CP2025dn||$1179||Laser||20||20||20||20|
|Fuji Xerox DocuPrint C2200||$1208.90||Laser||26||26||26||26|
Print speeds aren't fantastic, but the Brother HL-3070CW colour LED printer produces decent output. Text quality is very accurate at all font sizes but the printer's fine line quality option makes for better results at 7pt. Colour isn't necessarily better than results from laser printers, as documents still occasionally suffer from mis-registration and poor alignment. Colour accuracy is mixed: the "vivid" option improved red and green hues in our test document, but it made blues look purple.
Brother's HL-3070CW colour LED printer may boast a comparatively new technology, but at the end of the day, it looks and performs like most laser printers. It certainly performs well for its price, but it's not without flaws commonly encountered on lasers.
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