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Brother HL-5450DN review: Brother HL-5450DN

Brother HL-5450DN

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Justin Yu
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Justin Yu

Associate Editor / Reviews - Printers and peripherals

Justin Yu covered headphones and peripherals for CNET.

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5 min read

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.

Brother HL-5450DN
7.9

Brother HL-5450DN

The Good

The <b>Brother HL-5450DN</b> is built for busy small offices with Ethernet networking and cloud access through Apple AirPrint, Google Cloud Print, and Brother's iPrint&Scan smartphone app.

The Bad

The iPrint&Scan app can't print PDFs more than 20 pages, nor does it support legacy models like the popular HL-2270DW.

The Bottom Line

Exhibiting the same high-quality prints and speedy output as its predecessor, the Brother HL-5450DN is a reliable device for busy users requiring networked access at home and abroad.

Design
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.

Sarah Tew/CNET
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.

Sarah Tew/CNET
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.

Sarah Tew/CNET
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.

Sarah Tew/CNET
Finally, Brother also lets you print and scan from your Apple iPhone, Android, or Windows Phone 7 mobile device using its latest iPrint&Scan app. While it does suffer limitations like an inability to print Microsoft Office files (DOC, XLS, PPT) due to a licensing issue, the software makes it easy enough to convert to PDF, though take note that the maximum number of pages you can print remotely maxes out at 20. Additionally, older models like the popular HL-2270dw are unsupported, but Google Cloud Print serves as a viable workaround if you have access to a desktop browser.

Performance
The HL-5450DN's speedy 400MHz processor ensures quicker prints than its cheaper relatives, and the test results below show exactly how much time you'll save per minute. With equal gains across all three tests, the 5450DN excelled the most in Presentation speed, pumping 4.31 pages per minute (PPM) faster than the previous model.

The HL-5450DN performed well in our text quality tests; the samples we printed on standard 20 lb. paper with the quality set to "best" were evenly dark with clear fonts all the way down to 2-point Times New Roman. The individual letters were also free from line breaks and fuzzy edges.

The graphics sample I printed, however, didn’t produce equally positive results. The gradient steps were so abrupt that a severe checkered pattern appeared where the printer obviously couldn’t handle the transitions. The small photos appeared fuzzy in the shadow regions in addition to the overall digitized effects, though I never expect too much by way of graphics quality in monochrome laser printers.

Service and support
Brother stands by all of its monochrome laser printers with a one-year Express Exchange limited warranty in addition to offering a toll-free customer service number for troubleshooting information.

Conclusion
With an impressive combination of cloud printing features and a road-tested design, the Brother HL-545DN makes sense for home offices and SMB that rely on a workhorse printer for daily output and networked connectivity.

Printing speed
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Presentation (PPM)  
Black Graphics (PPM)  
Black Text (PPM)  
Oki B431DN
38.16 
33.3 
33.86 
Brother HL-5450DN
22.46 
20.89 
21.13 
Samsung ML-2525W
20 
20.19 
18.82 
Brother HL-2270DW
18.15 
19.03 
18.64 
Canon imageClass MF3010
17.17 
17.46 
14.91 

Brother HL-5450DN
7.9

Brother HL-5450DN

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 8Support 7
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