Brother HL-2170w

I picked up a new Brother HL-2170w last week. It’s a network-enabled (wired and wireless) black and white laser printer. At just under $100, and with $30-50 replacement toner cartridges good for thousands of pages worth of output, it was quite a steal in terms of features for the money.

I had been looking for an all-in-one color printer to replace my scanner and inkjet, but the more I looked, the more horror stories I saw. And when I didn’t see horror stories, I saw absurd ink costs on a per-page basis. The sheer number of horror stories was astounding. I have always considered printers to be evil, banes of our very existence but the tales of woe that wait on printer reviews are really like no other components.

So as inconvenient as it may be for color, it seems that doing photo prints (99% of what I want in color) is cheaper to do at an in-store lab (such as Wal-Mart) than to do it at home, plus I don’t have to worry about the crazy quality of inkjet printers, or expensive-yet-not-photo-quality color laser output. I still have my existing inkjet for the rare case where I might need a print fast, but at what seems to be about $0.50/print, it’s really not worth it.

The Brother printer was pretty easy to setup. Plug it into the network, and it pulls a DHCP address. I went to the printer’s web interface and setup a static IP, changed its name, and had all the PCs printing in no time. The Windows 7 boxes found the driver automatically, XP I had to pick the driver by hand, and my FreeBSD workstation needed the hpijs-pcl5e driver for CUPS, but needed no other special configuration.

Given all the negative experiences I’ve had with printers (and everyone else has had), I thought I’d share this positive one.

4 thoughts on “Brother HL-2170w

  1. you almost never see positive reviews of multi-function devices. I tried a few different types of MFCs at my office, and they all suck. Individual purpose built devices from now on. Glad your brother is working out, we use them for our workhorse b/w lasers at work now.

  2. Hey Jim, good post. I have a Brother DCP-7020. It was cheap to buy and the toner is super cheap and lasts forever. I think I’ve only had to replace the toner once. Brother printers are good value. I hate inkjet because of the never-ending consumables cost. Toner is vastly cheaper than ink.

  3. I had one of these – replaced it by a Samsung wireless MFP. Now, I don’t know if its worth it because you still have to get up to change pages on the scanner.
    Regarding the Brother printer, there’s a sensor on the side of the toner cartridge – when your printer tells you its low on toner, just cover this sensor with some tape (I used electrical) and its good for another 2 months!

  4. I have been using one of these for a couple of years and it works great even using aftermarket toner which I get from either newegg or amazon. It’s perfect when you have to pint lots of B/W docs and everyone in my house is in HS or College. Saves tons on ink.

    Oh and like my Anti-spam word says, pfSense ROX!

    This printer and the MFC-490CW have made Brother my choice for home printers. The MFC-490CW is a multifunction inkjet that works well. The driver software is not super fancy, but it does its job, printing, faxing, scanning and copying and does not take 500MB and hours to install.

    The Epson WorkForce Pro series are also great multifunction inkjet printers. They have a large footprint, but work well, are fast for inkjets in this price range and have quick and easy software that works. For the size and speed, they are not too loud. Also, they have a normal paper feed tray and have a top load feed tray which seems to be an Epson exclusive and a great for thick stock and quick paper adds.

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