Brother HL-3140CW review

The Brother HL-3140CW color LED printer delivers on speed and paper handling.
Photo of Brother HL-3140CW

More than with most printers, whether you’ll like the Brother HL-3140CW depends on what you most want out of a printer. If speed and paper handling trumps all else, it offers a lot for the price. If uniformly high quality output matters…well, not so much. Beyond that, it offers some other useful features—most notably Wi-Fi Direct for easy printing from tablets, smartphones, and laptops—that also help make it a little more attractive,

The good news first: The HL-3140CW is actually faster than the more expensive Editors’ Choice Samsung CLP-415NW, and it offers the same 250-sheet input capacity. What you don’t get for the lower price is an Ethernet connector or the CLP-415NW’s output quality. If you don’t need either, however, getting the HL-3140CW may well be worth the savings.

Basics
The HL3140CW is an LED printer, which means it works much like a laser printer except that it uses LEDs instead of a laser to draw the image of each page on a photosensitive drum. Most LED printers tend to be smaller and lighter than comparable lasers, but that’s not true for the HL-3140CW, which measures 9.5 by 16.1 by 18.3 inches (HWD) and weighs a substantial 37.5 pounds.

The size and weight make the printer more appropriate for a micro office or a small workgroup than for a home office, with Wi-Fi support giving you a way to share it if you need to. Paper handling is also appropriate for most micro offices, with the 250-sheet drawer supplemented by a 1-sheet manual feed. Unfortunately, there’s no duplexer and, as is typical for the price range, no additional paper handling options available.

Setup, Speed, and Output Quality
For my tests, I connected the HL-3140CW by USB cable to a Windows Vista system. Set up was standard fare. As already mentioned, speed is a strong point. I timed the printer on our business applications suite, (using QualityLogic’s hardware and software for timing) at 6.7 pages per minute (ppm). That counts as notably fast for the rated 19 ppm for both color and mono. In fact, the CLP-415NW and the Brother HL-3045CN, which both offer the same 19 ppm rating, were fast for the rating even at 6.0 ppm.

Unfortunately, the HL-3140CW doesn’t earn the same high praise for its output quality. Text is below par, although still a step above the bottom tier for color lasers and LEDs. Its saving grace is that lasers and LEDs handle text so well that even the worst printers don’t do all that badly in absolute terms. Unless you need quality suitable for desktop publishing or for printing small fonts, you shouldn’t have any real issues with the text output.

Graphics quality is dead on par for a laser or LED printer, which makes it more than good enough for any internal business need. Depending on your level of perfectionism, you may consider it good enough for PowerPoint handouts and the like. Photo quality is the one truly weak link for the printer, with a level of quality I rarely see outside of mono lasers. The output is easily good enough to print recognizable images from Web pages, but I wouldn’t consider using its photos for anything much more demanding than that.

One additional feature that you may or may not be able to take advantage of is printing through the cloud. However, the printer has to be connected to your network for cloud printing, with your network connected to the Internet. And since there’s no Ethernet connector on the printer, that means you can’t use this feature unless you connect the printer to your network by Wi-Fi.

If the Brother HL-3140CW’s output quality were in the same league as its speed and paper handling, it would be a hands-down winner. As it is, the fast speed and reasonably good paper handling keep it in the running for a micro office or small workgroup, and to a lesser extent for home or personal use, as long as you don’t need particularly high-quality output. If reasonably good text and graphics is good enough, and photo quality isn’t much of a concern, the Brother HL-3140CW can be a potentially good fit.

Specifications
Print Duplexing Manual with guidance
Printer Category Laser
Direct Printing from Cameras No
Maximum Standard Paper Size Legal
Rated Speed at Default Settings (Mono) 19 ppm
Type Printer Only
Rated Speed at Default Settings (Color) 19 ppm
Color or Monochrome 1-pass color
Technology (for laser category only) LED
Connection Type USB, Wireless

Verdict
The Brother HL-3140CW color LED printer's output quality is a touch below par, but it offers fast speed, good paper handling, and Wi-Fi Direct for easy mobile printing.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc