The $199 Brother HL-2270DW laser monochrome printer earned a place on CNET's Top Printers list for its budget-friendly price tag and simple design. The company's latest monochrome laser, the HL-5450DN, improves on that model, adding cloud printing and Ethernet networking for $199. Both features are a boon for small offices or anyone that needs to output quick prints, either at home or remotely. With the same efficient design as the HL2270DW and expansive mobile productivity functions, the Brother HL-5450DN is a viable solution for offices that require versatile mid- to high-volume printing.
Consider the HL-5450DN the newer, more robust sibling to the HL-2270DW. Designwise, the HL-5450DN has a larger profile at 14.6 inches wide, 15.1 inches deep, and 9.6 inches tall but keeps the plain black color with two buttons on the top-mounted control to feed and cancel print jobs. As usual, the power switch lives on the right side, and the printer is designed to stay on during the work day, but will enter sleep mode when it doesn't receive data for a set period of time -- you can also customize the sleep time in the driver menu.
The front lip folds down to reveal the toner cartridge, and like most laser printers, you can also remove the paper tray located on the bottom of the unit. Depending on your daily work load, it won't likely require a constant refill thanks to its 250-sheet input capacity. You can also fit 50 extra sheets of nonstandard media like envelopes and index cards into the multipurpose tray as well, and Brother offers an optional 500-sheet paper tray for an additional $210.
Brother gives you the HL-5450DN's standard toner cartridge right out of the box, as opposed to the "starter" cartridge you get with the HL-2270DW that only lasts about 1,000 pages. The standard TN-720 cartridge yields 3,000 pages and costs $77 from Staples, though you can save money buying the high-capacity TN-750 that boosts your page yields up to more than double for just $125.
Another way to save money on media is by using the printer's built-in auto-duplexer that lets you print on both sides of paper. I should note that crinkled edge folds in the sheets can cause jams, but the HL-5450DN also has a convenient fold-down door on the back to free jams.
The HL-2270DW's control panel is just as simple as the body itself, sporting an all-inclusive Go button that also controls error recovery, wake-up, job cancel, wireless on/off, and manual feed, with six small LEDs for toner, drum, paper, and error status rounding out the panel. Though this model isn't the flashiest float in the parade, it's certainly designed with utility in mind -- not fashion.
The Brother HL-5450DN is one of first printers in the line to include out-of-box access to cloud printing services from Google and Apple. These features not only let you connect to a host computer without the fuss of driver installation, but they also allow remote printing through any Google Chrome browser with an associated username and password. Through Apple Air Print, this also frees your printer from the limitations of one desktop computer and allows printing from any iOS devices connected to the network.
Though Brother isn't listed as a supported company on the Google Cloud Print installation site, Brother still makes it relatively easy to register your printer's IP address and sign in to Google with your account.
I was able to make a seamless connection and print from a remote Web browser in a matter of minutes, and AirPrint is just as easy -- just make sure that your printer is connected to the same network through the Ethernet port on the back. Unfortunately, the cable you need to do this is not included in the package, so you'll have to run out and source one yourself.