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Brother HL-L8350CDW review: colour laser printer a good all-rounder for business

Brother has recently boosted its range of business colour laser printers targeted at SMEs. There are six printers in the L8000 series - four multifunction and two single function. Its aim is to meet the needs of those who prioritise speed, volume and cost effectiveness. The Brother HL-L8350CDW is the superior single-function colour laser printer in the collection and you can tell when you take it out of the box that it means business. It's a very solidly constructed rectangular unit that measures 410 x 486 x 313 mm and may need a couple of people to manoeuvre its 25.5 kg bulk into place.

There's nothing remotely flash about this printer as it's styled in unassuming shades of black and cream, designed to slot into your other office furniture without calling attention to itself. Even the control panel on the top surface has been made of the same cream plastic to be less visible. Buttons have been kept to a minimum, although cost cutting shouldn't always be mistaken for style minimalism.

Disappointingly, the Brother HL-L8350CDW's LCD does not tilt and although the two-line text is backlit, it's a slow process going through menus with small buttons - a touchscreen would have been a massive bonus.

In terms of capacity, the HL-L8350CDW has a 250-sheet paper tray in the base and a 50-sheet multi-purpose tray that drops down at the front. If your output requirements are significantly greater, an additional 500-sheet paper tray can be added for around £165. Auto Duplex printing comes as standard which can make significant savings on your stationery costs.

Brother has made some improvements over last year's HL-3150CDW by this time including a USB port on the front for USB flash drive printing. Connectivity includes the full package of ethernet, USB 2.0, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n and Wi-Fi Direct for linking to mobiles and tablets through the Brother iPrint&Scan app.

The claimed top printing speed for the HL-L8350CDW is 30 ppm for both colour and mono documents although we were averaging around 25 ppm for single-page documents of both types and 12 ppm for double-sided duplex versions. These were still perfectly respectable print rates for busy SMEs and print quality was generally detailed with blacks solid, although colours throughout tended to be darker than the originals.

As you'd expect, ink cartridges come in low and high yield versions. The basic 2500-page black costs 2.39p per page, while the 4000-page high-yield cartridge reduces the amount to 1.76p per page.

Similarly, for colour each standard 1500-page colour cartridge arrives at 5.1p per ink per page with the high-yield 3500-page ink working out as 4.18p per ink page. But at over £100 per colour refill, a toner top-up will set you back close to £400, which will be more than you probably paid for the printer.


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