Laser printers have been fundamental pieces of office equipment for at least 15 years, so you’d expect them to have reached the pinnacle of development. In some ways that’s true; resolution and print speed have reached levels that are more than adequate for the vast majority of business documents, while the cost per page of printing on a laser printer is considerably lower than it is for an inkjet printer.
Consider Brother’s HL-7050N, for example. It offers a maximum print resolution of up to 1200 x 1200 dpi (dots per inch) and a rated print speed of 28 pages per minute for A4 or Letter pages. That speed may relate to the core print engine rather than the total print time – the page processing overhead is rarely included in such figures – but the HL-7050N has a fast enough processor that there’s very little overhead anyway. The output quality is excellent; not up to photo inkjet standard when printing photos, as you’d expect, but better than inkjet for text and business graphics.
However, there is still room for some innovation. Anyone who’s regularly used a laser printer will be aware of the ‘ozone’ smell that tends to surround them after a couple of pages have been printed, as the fumes from the fusing process are vented to the atmosphere. This isn’t particularly healthy, but the filters fitted to laser printers have rarely been effective at removing these fumes.
But the Brother HL-7050N smells of… nothing. It’s quite strange to watch pages emerge from this printer without any accompanying smell. The fumes are properly trapped, with very little or nothing escaping to the office air. Partly for this reason, the printer is, according to Brother, the first to be awarded the TCO99 accreditation (a health and safety standard which you’ll often see on monitors).
In all other respects, this is everything you’d expect of a departmental laser printer. It’s pretty well built, although some panels are a little flimsy. It’s not overly attractive, but not offensively ugly either. It’s fitted with a 10/100Base-TX network adapter and supports PCL-6 and PostScript Level 3 emulation, in the shape of ‘BR-Script 3′. In other words, it will print from just about any application you’d care to use. This is particularly the case since it has parallel, serial and USB connections, with a built-in CompactFlash card reader too. IT managers certainly won’t have to worry about connectivity, even for offices with several different types of computer and operating system.
The HL-7050N is noisy while it warms up and noisy in operation, although it’s nearly silent in standby mode. There’s a multi-coloured LCD display with a selection of buttons that scroll through menus, allowing you to configure various settings, although generally these are best managed from the driver software. A 600-sheet tray holds the input paper, which emerges face down into the top bin. There’s also a drop-down feed slot for other media such as envelopes. As you’d imagine with a departmental printer, there are loads of paper handling options, ranging from output hoppers, duplexers and mail sorters to a maximum of 2,100-sheet input via add-on trays.
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