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Brother HL-3170CDW printer review

I bought a new printer, the Brother HL-3170CDW (sometimes stylized HL3170CDW, as on Amazon). It’s a small office color laser, with all the doodads (wireless, ethernet, duplex, color). I didn’t really need it, the HL-2070N black and white printer I’ve had for several years now was working fine, but every once in a while I wondered if I’d find use for a color printer. Maybe I was making due with B&W because that’s all that was available, and having a color printer would unleash a creative blast of fancy greeting cards. I mulled it over for a few years, but then the price briefly hit $170 on Amazon. Done.

Physically, it’s huge and heavy, at least in comparison. It literally is like four printers in one. Reminds me of the old LaserJet my roommate brought to college. Setup is pretty easy. Take off all the protective tape and stickers and wrappers, plug it in, print a test page. It whirs around like a helicopter for a while, but that’s a one time operation. Afterwards, it only takes a few seconds to go from sleep to printing, and it’s not terribly loud. Being a W model, it does have wireless, though I have little use for that. It weighs 39 pounds; I’m not going to be moving it about that frequently.

Feature wise, a big upgrade for me is that idle power draw is now less than 1W. The previous printer wasn’t optimized for that, and would always suck down 8W or so. That’s not quite reason enough to upgrade, but throw everything else in the mix, and it tipped the scales. It’ll pay for itself in only ten years!

Black text print quality is roughly perfect to my eyes. I’d call the color rendering PowerPoint good, not Photoshop good. As in, don’t expect accurate color matching, but it’s more than sufficient to highlight the blue links in a printed web page, for example.

It supports AirPrint, the Apple iOS print service. On rare occasions I had wished to print something from my phone, but there was no good way to do it. You can hack together some software to emulate an AirPrint server on a computer, and then forward the request to a printer, but it seemed like more trouble than it was worth. Easier to just find my laptop and open up whatever I wanted printed. Now that I have AirPrint, though, I can see myself using it as many as five times a year.

It supposedly supports direct Postscript input. Not tested. Also Google Print, whatever that is.

Posted 10 Oct 2013 22:27 by tedu Updated: 10 Oct 2013 22:27