The Good Fast print speeds; easy install; decent text-printing quality; extensive maintenance and troubleshooting help via included CD.
The Bad Merely fair graphics-printing quality; expandability options, while good, are eclipsed by the competition's; unreachable tech support.
The Bottom Line Solid and reasonably priced, the Brother HL-5040 would be at home on any SOHO desk. However, competing lasers offer better add-ons for less money.
Brother's HL-5040 is the successor to CNET's former Editors' Choice Brother HL-1440 and the sub-$300, entry-level unit in Brother's latest line of small/home-office laser printers. With its add-on paper trays, enhanced expandability options, and faster print speeds, the HL-5040 is a great improvement over the HL-1440 and a solid choice for SOHO users. However, recent small-office lasers such as the Minolta PagePro 1250E offer more office-friendly features and expandability for the same price. Like the HL-1440 before it, the Brother HL-5040 is somewhat boxy-looking. But when compared with ugly-duckling-styled lasers such as the Minolta PagePro 1250E (which have paper trays sticking out all over), the solid box seems to be a sensible, functional design for an office. All the HL-5040's paper trays tuck neatly into the printer body and out of the way.