Brother HL-L8360CDW Review
Pros: Excellent text quality, fast, great interface, easy setup
Cons: Very large, expensive
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Brother HL-L8360CDW is the first printer we'd choose for a small office that prints a lot (1000+ pages a month). The large, expandable paper tray, high capacity toner cartridges, and above average speed make this a great machine for printing in large volumes. However, for anything short of a paper-heavy small office, the HL-L8360CDW will certainly be overkill.
The Brother HL-L8360CDW was one of the top performers in our text quality testing, sharing the top score of 9 out of 10.
In our testing text produced by the HL-L8360CDW came out crisp, dark, and with sharp edges. Under very close examination with a low-powered microscope, we were able to find a couple of imperfections here and there, but for all intents and purposes, the text was perfect.
This performance was very similar to that of the other high-end models we tested, like the HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M281fdw and the HP Color LaserJet Pro M254dw. It was also noticeably better than the text produced by most of the budget models which, while still quite good, had many more noticeable blotches and imperfections.
The HL-L8360CDW carries a hefty upfront cost. However, once you make this investment, the HL-L8360CDW is very economical in its use of toner. It can print black and white at a rate of just $0.02 a page (or $8.89/ream) and color at a fairly reasonable $0.10/page ($47.63/ream). This high upfront cost makes the HL-L8360CDW a mediocre value in the short term. We calculated its estimated lifetime cost as $550, assuming a life of 7500 pages. However, the HL-L8360CDW is clearly designed for high volume printing, so its low toner costs make it a better value the more you print.
If you don't print in the huge quantities that the HL-L8360CDW is designed for, you're probably better off going with a printer that costs less up front, even if the ink costs are higher.
Ease of Use
The HL-L8360CDW was one of the most hassle-free printers we tested. Accordingly, it shares the top score of 9 out of 10 in our ease of use testing.
This printer mostly endeared itself to us because of its larger, touchscreen display. This made navigating everything from initial setup to connecting to WiFi networks easy. It also gave us a great troubleshooting platform for the rare instance where we had trouble getting the HL-L8360CDW to talk to any of our wireless devices. The HL-L8360CDW also has the full complement of features you'd want from a high-end printer, with the ability to print directly from a USB drive and optional Ethernet and USB connectivity.
Overall this user experience is very similar to those of the other high-end models we tested, namely the HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M281fdw and its sibling, the M254dw. Basically, if you're willing to spend more on a printer that comes with an intuitive touchscreen display, you're probably going to have fewer hassles than printers with tiny LCD displays and a few buttons.
The HL-L8360CDW was one of the better printers we tested when it came to graphics earning a relatively high score of 6 out of 10 in this metric.
The HL-L8360CDW generally produced very sharp, crisp, and well saturated photos and graphics in our testing. 99% of the time we think this performance will work perfectly for any photos or charts that may appear in your printed documents. However, the one flaw in the HL-L8360CDW's graphics printing is its tendency to make everything look a bit darker than it does on the computer screen. This may lead to some issues if the photos you want to print are already on the darker side, or if you're printing complicated graphs with lots of subtly different colors, as the darker tone may cause some of the shades to start blending together a bit.
If graphs are a big concern of yours, you may want to take a look at the HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M281fdw or its single function sibling, the M254dw. These models both did a better job of differentiating subtle color shades in complicated graphs. However, they didn't produce quite the same photo resolution as the HL-L8360CDW. The only models we tested that actually printed better photos was the ink guzzling HP Envy 4520.
Clocking a speed of 16 pages per minute in our hallmark single-sided text document speed test, the HL-L8360CDW's speed is above average but not exactly blazing. Notably it is slightly faster than the HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M281fdw
The HL-L8360CDW's speed drops to 12 pages a minute when printing duplex. It also took 24 seconds to print a full-page, high-resolution photo. Both of these figures are again commensurate with other models in the same genre. Overall we don't see the HL-L8360CDW's speed being a limiting factor for any user.
As we mentioned before, the HL-L8360CDW prints quite economically, but carries a hefty upfront cost. Therefore, it is only a good value for those that print a lot (think approaching 1000 pages a month). If your printing needs are more moderate, there are plenty of other models that would provide better values, depending on your exact usage.
The HL-L8360CDW is an excellent printer, but its large size and upfront cost make it a good option only for a small office that goes through a lot of paper.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata
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