THERE'S a category of printer that exists between the 'cheaper to replace than buy ink for' and the 'let me call our dedicated systems admin' machines.
They're serious tools but have often swung wildly between the best and the worst aspects of the budget and high-end markets. This presents a problem for SOHO and SME users who will usually buy the printers outright - service and warranties are there but not so comprehensive, meaning downtime, and they're not cheap enough that they can be binned and replaced without thought.
Fortunately, Brother's latest series of printers and Multi-Function Centres (MFCs) are pushing the average toward the higher end, especially in terms of functionality.
The six new offerings come as three printers and three MFCs, the
- MFC-L8850CDW and the
Prices range from $399 for the HL-L8250CDN printer to $1099 for the MFC-L9550CDW but the use-case from one end to the other is significantly different.
At the basic end, the HL-L8250CDN can push 28 pages per minute in double-sided colour using either standard or High-yield toners. It'll pack 250 sheets with a 50 sheet manual feed slot and an optional extra 500 sheet capacity. Unfortunately the L8250 is wired-only, hence the CDN designation, but like all of these printers, it's ready to talk with both Google's and Apple's cloud printing services.
The top of the printing line, the $699 HL-L9200CDW speeds up to 30 pagers per minute, adds a 4.3cm touch screen and adds wireless connectivity with web-connect out of the box. Bonus points: It's also compatible with super high-yield toners (6,000BkCMY)
The Multi-Function Centres add a few more features and really benefit most from the new suite of security measures Brother's brought out this season.
The MFC-L8600 is also $699 but also includes scanning, a larger touch screen, Brother apps, and printing directly from USB devices. Unfortunately it lacks the super high-yield toner compatibility of the HL-L9200CDW.
The full package comes from the $1099 MFC-L9550CDW, also known as 'the model that comes with the sweet swipe-card authentication'.
- Automatic 2-sided (duplex) printing
- Automatic 2-sided (duplex) scanning
- Up to 30ppm print speed colour & monochrome
- Hi-Speed USB 2.0, Wired Network & Wireless
- 250 sheet lower tray paper capacity
- 50 sheet multi-purpose tray
- 50 sheet Automatic Document Feeder (ADF)
- 256MB memory (expandable up to 512MB)
- 12.3cm TFT colour touch screen
- Support for Google Cloud Print, Apple AirPrint
- Web connect & Brother apps + BSI
- Built-in NFC
- Direct print from / Scan to USB memory stick
- Super High-yield toners (6,000BkCMY)
The security services are helpful if you've got someone who knows best how to use them.
Basically they enable IT administrators to configure individual access restrictions by use and by function for up to 100 users or groups with a Web-based panel accessible via a browser. This will be useful for larger SME's or smaller IT-focussed businesses, but probably not so much for anyone else.
One addition that's bound to be helpful is native use of Active Directory, meaning users on Microsoft networks can be given accounts for the printer without having to create extra accounts on the network.
These are worth adding to your list when looking at a printer for your office, whether it be for SOHO or SME applications.