Brother HL-L2360DW review: A simple black laser printer with quick prints and a future-proof design
The Brother HL-L2360DW monochrome laser printer is an upgrade to the HL-2270DW , a similar model that we gave high marks in 2011 for its ease of use, inexpensive toner cost, and lightning print speeds. This time around, Brother wisely prices it at $150, and beefs up the features with the addition of a small one-line LCD readout on the top panel for easier menu navigation and support for mobile printing by way of Apple AirPrint, Google Cloud Print, Google Chrome Print, and an array of other platforms.
For its future-proof support for virtually every device on the street, this Brother is worthy of consideration if you're looking for an affordable B&W laser printer for light to medium duty output. Just be sure to compare it versus the increasing panoply of bargain laser competition in the space from Samsung, HP, and even Brother itself -- some of which offer multi-function support.
Design and features
If you have the HL-2270DW right now, you probably won't notice the aesthetic differences between that older model and the HL-L2360DW unless you look closely. The new model is slightly thinner than the legacy model and cuts the weight by a little more than a pound, or 0.3kg.
The front lip folds down to reveal the toner port, and like most laser printers, you can remove the paper tray, located on the face of the unit, for toner refills. You probably won't need to refill too often considering the printer can hold 250 sheets of 8.5-by-11-inch paper has a 10,000 page monthly duty cycle -- that's how much paper volume the print is capable of spitting out every month.
There's also a single-sheet manual-feed bypass tray that can handle an assortment of different paper sizes including Letter, Legal, Executive, A4, A5, A6, B5, B6, and envelopes. Though we can't exactly spend a year testing the dependability of its design, we did print more than 150 pages during our lab testing and never experienced a paper jam or delay, so we're confident in its ability to do the work.
As usual, you'll have no problem linking the printer with your computer thanks to the Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) standard that lets you establish an additional device to your home network in a few easy steps that are laid out in the accompanying instruction manual and aided by onscreen drivers. As long as you have your network name and SSID password on hand, you should be able to connect your printer and computer without wires like we did, in less than 10 minutes.
If you don't have a wireless connection you can instead opt for a USB connection to your Mac, Windows PC, or Chromebook. Drivers, software, and manuals are available on the included CD or via download on the Brother's website.
Of course, the biggest draw of the updated model is wireless printing from your Android or iOS device using Brother's in-house iPrint & Scan app. The app is straightforward and carries various templates that you can use to create custom projects featuring your own photos, or even an entire photo album. You can print your own mailing labels as well by importing names and addresses directly from your phone's contact list.
Brother supports devices running iOS 6 and Android 2.2 or above, but if you don't happen to have a compatible device, you can always shake hands over AirPrint, Apple's own wireless printing format for iOS, as well as Google CloudPrint, the search giant's browser extension which can print from any device running a version of Google's Chrome Web browser -- each window has a small print button on the toolbar that combs your network for a device that will accept a Cloud Print connection.
The HL-L2360DW includes 32MB of internal memory and a robust 266MHz processor that lets you send more documents through the printer and generally speed up the whole printing process.
Unfortunately, Brother only offers a "starter" toner cartridge with the unit that lasts about 700 pages -- that's 3,000 pages less than the starter cartridge they included with the older HL-2270DW. That's an annoying step back, but the good news is that after you deplete the one in the box, you can purchase your own standard cartridge for $50, which that can yield approximately 2,600 pages at a very cost-efficient 1.9 cents per page.
The HL-L2360DW performed similarly to the HL-2270DW in our speed tests, which was expected based on the similar print engine inside. The samples we printed on standard 20-pound paper with the quality set to "best" appear even 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 we printed, however, didn't fare as well. The gradient steps were so abrupt that a severe checkered pattern appeared where the printer obviously couldn't handle the transitions. The small photos we printed appeared fuzzy in the shadow regions in addition to the overall digitized effects, but this is also standard fare for laser toner, which usually can't compare to the graphics output of an inkjet printhead.
Brother stands by all of its monochrome laser printers with a one-year Express Exchange limited warranty, in addition to a toll-free customer service number for troubleshooting.
If you're looking for an alternative but want to stay in the Brother family of mono laser printers, you have the option of choosing three new models in the same price range. For a fraction more, the DCP-L2540DW beefs up the features with a flatbed scanner, copier, an auto-document feeder (ADF) for scanning batches, and a auto-duplexer that saves money by flipping the page over and printing on the other side. As long as you don't mind the extra bulk, it looks like a worthy option for high volume multitasking.
If you already took our advice and own the HL-2270DW laser printer, you don't need to upgrade unless you're really anxious about printing on-the-go. On the other hand, if you're shopping for a text-only printer that won't empty your wallet with toner refills, the HL-2360DW is a strong choice.