The Good Speedy text document printing; modest price tag; compact form factor; wireless option is convenient after initial setup, short initial lag time.
The Bad Wireless installation has some difficulty; poor graphics quality; lacks autoduplexing.
The Bottom Line The Brother HL-2170W laser printer can be the perfect money saving sidekick to your existing inkjet, but don't expect it to handle even the most minor graphic jobs.
The Brother HL-2170W laser monochrome printer provides a viable alternative to the bottomless money pit that has become today's inkjet printer. Modern photo, tricolor, and high capacity ink cartridges can cost anywhere between $20 to $100 per refill, so multiply that by your volume of prints and try not to balk at the true cost of owning an inkjet. As an alternative, supplementing a printer set up with an inexpensive black and white laser printer can cut costs in home offices that tend to cycle through black cartridges with text-only documents. Although it's not without its shortcomings, such as cripplingly poor quality graphics prints, the Brother HL-2170W balances out with speedy text printing and 802.11b/g wireless functionality for just $150. We'd certainly recommend it as a secondary text-only printer if you already have a photo inkjet and have a little extra change to throw around.
The HL-2170W has the same overall size and design as the HL-2140 ($129.99) but adds 32MB of onboard memory and an 802.11b/g wireless interface for an additional $20, boosting the total price to $150. As far as laser printers go, this little guy is more David than a Goliath at 6.7 inches tall and 14.5 inches wide and weighs just fifteen pounds. Designwise, it's unassuming and finished in the same matte grey found on most cubicle walls and the original Nintendo Gameboy.
The front lip folds down to reveal the toner port and like most laser printers, the paper tray is located on the face of the unit and can be fully removed from the body for refills. If you're the average home user, you probably won't need to refill too often considering the printer can hold 250 sheets of standard 8.5 inch by 11 inch paper. Also, there is a manual feed paper slot handles an assortment of different paper sizes including Letter, Legal, Executive, A4, A5, A6, B5, B6, and envelopes. We printed more than 150 sheets of paper during our lab testing and never experienced a paper jam or even the slightest delay.