Brother HL-2130 review

Compact entry-level mono laser printer
Photo of Brother HL-2130
£90

Brother’s mono laser printers have built up a steady fan base amongst customers who want consistently reliable and cost-effective mono text printing with a decent turn of speed. If you’re on a very tight budget but are thinking of dipping into this market at the entry level, then you can do a lot worse than explore Brother’s replacement for the HL-2035, the exceedingly compact HL-2130.

Lifted from the carton, you’re presented with a light grey square-shaped box with rounded corners, measuring a neat 368x360x183mm (wdh) and weighing in at just 6.7kg. Everything about this machine says no-frills practicality – so if you’re looking for any particular bells and whistles, you’re almost certain to come away disappointed. On the other hand, it’s bells and whistles that make a printer expensive, which is why Brother has been able to keep the price as low as £90 inc. VAT.

Large paper capacity
So, in terms of connectivity, there’s just a simple USB output to link to your PC and no Ethernet or Wi-Fi for any form of networking. Having said that, setup is a very quick affair using the supplied installation disc, and warm-up time is generally only around ten seconds before the first page pops out.

At the base of the unit is a 250-sheet paper tray which should be more than sufficient for most modest home/small business needs. The output tray on the top can handle up to 100 sheets without any difficulty.

In addition, there’s a single sheet feeder at the front for plain paper, envelopes, labels and transparencies. The toner and drum are contained in a single cartridge that slides in behind the drop-down front panel. Four LEDs highlight toner and drum usage, errors and readiness, plus there’s a rather unnecessary ‘Go’ button, whose only function seems to be to produce a demo page.

Brilliant text quality
In the absence of any LCD display, all print commands and settings must be handled via the software on your PC – and, as with most Brother mono laser printers, you have the choice between 300, 600 and 1200dpi resolutions. For most black text documents we managed a top speed of nearly 20ppm at 300dpi and 18ppm for both 600 and 1200dpi.

As we’ve found with all of Brother’s mono laser range, the quality and solidity of the black lettering in text documents produced by the HL-2130 is exemplary. Graphics and images, on the other hand, were considerably darker than the originals and subject to banding issues.

The HL-2130 comes with a 700-page toner but 1,000-page toners are also available (costing around £33 inc. VAT), as is a 12,000-page drum (at £69 inc. VAT). It is also Linux as well as PC and Mac compatible, although you’ll need to download the Linux driver from Brother’s website as it’s not included as standard on the installation CD.

Company: Brother

Website: http://www.brother.co.uk/

Contact: Brother on 08444 999444

Positives
  • Top-notch document quality.
Negative
  • Graphics quality nowhere as good

Verdict

The entry-level HL-2130 mono laser printer is a neat, compact, no-nonsense machine that prints very good quality black text documents at nippy speeds and is very competitively priced. However, the lack of 'extras' and the less successful banding issues might cause some potential buyers a moment's hesitation.