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Hands-on Gear Review
Brother HL-L2340DW Review
Cons: Poor interface
Bottom line: Good performance, inexpensive operating costs, and a low list price
The black and white laser Brother HL-L2340DW offers reasonable text quality and printing speed, and good ink economy, all in a package with a low initial investment. This combination of decent quality at a very low price earned the HL-L2340DW our Best Buy on a Tight Budget award. It does have some downsides such as poor graphics quality and a tiny display that makes troubleshooting wifi connectivity quite a hassle. However, if you need an inexpensive home machine to print the occasional text document, and don't mind possibly having to revert to an old school USB connection, the HL-L2340DW has you covered.
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Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings
Criteria for Evaluation
Our text quality test was dominated by three models that all scored a 9. The HL-L2340DW was the next runner up after this leading group, scoring a 7. Although this is an appreciable step down in quality from the top scorers, it is also light years ahead of the bottom scorer, which received a 3. Text generally had good resolution and sharp edges. The HL-L2340DW lost points because it tended to make text look somewhat light in small fonts, and this problem persisted to some degree up into more commonly used font sizes, such as 10 and 12 point. This certainly isn't a dealbreaker as the text still looks pretty good, but it is a clear differentiation from the top scorers.
Ease of Use
The HL-L2340DW received the worst score of 4 in our ease of use testing. It shared this bottom spot with one other printer, and was far behind the top score of 8. Like the HP LaserJet Pro M402dn the HL-L2340DW utilizes a very simple, no frills design. However, its functionality does not embrace this simple design in the way that its HP brethren does. The HL-L2340DW packs wifi connectivity into its streamlined construction, and it just doesn't feel like it has the necessary components to deal with that addition. Connecting to a wifi network from the printer involves typing in the password on a single line LCD screen using two buttons. This is time consuming and frustrating. Also, if you experience any wifi connectivity issues this tiny screen does not serve as a very good trouble shooting platform. If you treat the HL-L2340DW as a simple, USB connected printer it works fairly well. Setup is quick and easy and there are never connectivity issues. However, throw wifi into the mix and there are frustrations, which is why the HL-L2340DW scored so low in our ease of use testing.
The HL-L2340DW Was at the front of the pack in our cost testing. It shared the top score of 7 with two other printers and proved to be much more economical than the worst scorer, which earned a 2. It prints monochrome pages at about $0.03 per page or $12.92 per ream of paper. Because of its low retail price it had one of the lowest estimated lifetime costs that we calculated at $311. These impressive economics are the main reason the HL-L2340DW picked up our Best Buy on a Tight Budget award.
The HL-L2340DW was a mid range performer on our printing speed test. It scored a 6 in this metric, which had scores ranging from 2 to 9. In the standard single sided monochrome text document test the HL-L2340DW registered a speed of 16 pages per minute. This is a respectable pace, but was far off from the 25 pages per minute accomplished by the HP LaserJet Pro M402dn. Printing duplex (double-sided) more than cut the HL-L2340DW's speed in half, reducing it to 7 pages per minute. It was also fairly slow to print full page photos, taking 52 seconds to do so. This isn't much of an issue, as you probably wouldn't be using the monochrome HL-L2340DW to print photos. In general we would have expected a monochrome laser to print faster than this. Much of the lack of speed seemed to be due to the printer's internal software. After sending a job there was often a noticeable lag before the printer processed all of the information and turned on. This problem was exacerbated when using a wifi connection. Generally, most users wouldn't notice the relatively slower speed of the HL-L2340DW, but if you're looking at monochrome laser printers because you want a fast machine, you should look elsewhere.
The HL-L2340DW is a simple, black and white laser printer. Accordingly, it did not do very well on our graphics and photo quality testing. It shared the low score of 2 with two other simple, black and white laser printers, sitting far behind the top score of 7. Simple graphics printed on the HL-L2340DW looked quite faded and light. The edges of lines in graphs often looked jagged due to a heavy dose of pixelation. Photos also looked pixelated and lost much of their detail due to a lack of resolution. The HL-L2340DW is not the printer you would want if you're planning on printing a lots of graphic heavy documents.
The HL-L2340DW earned our Best Buy on a Tight Budget award largely because of its low cost. It lists for just $120. Printer list prices can often be deceiving because they regularly sell for much less online. At the time of this writing the HL-L2340DW could easily be found online for nearly $40 below the list price. Combine this low price with fairly economical use of ink, and the HL-L2340DW becomes one of the least expensive printers to own. Despite its low costs the HL-L2340DW still provides reasonably good text quality. If most of your printing jobs are dominated by text, the HL-L2340DW represents a great value.
The HL-L2340DW is designed to be a simple and inexpensive home printing option. Our testers felt that adding wifi connectivity into that simple design was a mistake, as it didn't feel fully equipped to handle the realities of wifi printing. However, if you don't mind connecting via an old fashioned USB cable the HL-L2340DW will provide reliable, good quality text printing at a very low price.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata
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