The Brother HL-3070CW colour printer is one of the company's first to use LED technology. Competing with entry-level colour laser printers, the HL-3070CW is reasonably quick and it's easy to set up.

While network printers aren't noted for their chiseled good looks, the Brother HL-3070CW is remarkably unprepossessing. Its bi-coloured livery makes for a slightly jarring effect that isn't eased by the enormous depth of this printer - just 250mm high, it nevertheless stretches back for a good 466mm. 

Despite its low-slung appearance, the footprint is sizeable. The front is festooned with buttons - four alone are dedicated to the control pad used with the simple LCD display.

At least the navigation system is logical and easy to use. And one very useful addition is a Secure Print control, adding PIN protection to your files - you'll have to enter the PIN before the Brother starts printing them out, ensuring that other users can't look at your confidential print-outs before you have physically reached the printer. A USB port on the front of the printer completes the bonuses.

The paper handling is decent for a low-price colour laser; up to 250 sheets can be stored in the smooth paper tray. You can feed in additional sheets through a special feeder, and this gives you the option of using two different sizes. Admittedly, being just a single sheet feed, this isn't of great use. Nonetheless, up to 251 sheets is quite adequate for a low-grade laser printer. 

There are no options for upgrading its paper handling, so you can't go beyond 250 sheets. The 100-sheet output is a touch disappointing. Given the huge depth of the printer, we expected it to have a deep output tray recessed into the top of the printer.

Unfortunately, much of the printer's roof consists of a flat surface, increasing the chance of sheets falling to the floor and being trampled underfoot. The paper catch works moderately well, and the printer is wide enough that most of the sheets will stay put. Nonetheless, you won't want this printer to be placed where there are regular gusts of wind. 

The connectivity options on this printer are notable. Despite its relatively low cost, the Brother HL-3070CW comes with wired 10/100 ethernet and wireless 802.11b/g options. 802.11n isn't supported. The 64MB of memory isn't substantial, but you can upgrade this to a significant 576MB, should you have large files to print out. 

It may not have the largest selection of fonts on board, but PCL6 and BR-Script3 (Brother's PS3 rendition) are supported.

The Brother HL-3070CW has two main quality modes - standard 600dpi, and a special 2400dpi mode. The difference in speed between the two is little over 0.1ppm, but the 2400dpi mode often proved too dark. The 600dpi mode is quite reasonable. Text is churned out at a competitive rate of 13.6ppm. The Epson and HP are both faster, but not by much. 

Characters aren't the darkest or the most cleanly defined, but the quality is acceptable. In graphics, the Brother lacked a little detail in places, and the colour palette was a touch overcast.  

The Brother HL-3070CW has some of the dearest running costs in the test. Although 2.4p for a page of mono may sound okay, it's still the third most expensive in the category. Move to colour printing, and its figure of 10.7p again makes it one of the most expensive of all.

NEXT PAGE: Original PC World Australia review


The Brother HL-3070CW prints in the same basic way as any laser: the printer uses toner powder to paint an image onto a rotating drum which is then transferred to paper. Instead of using a laser to paint this image, the HL-3070CW simply uses a line of LEDs; the same type used to backlight the some recent LCD monitors and TVs.

LED printers like the Brother HL-3070CW are allegedly smaller, cheaper, quieter and more durable than their laser counterparts. While the potential maximum print resolution is lower than with lasers, LED technology can actually produce more accurate characters at smaller text sizes.

The technology's benefits are definitely noticeable on the Brother HL-3070CW. For a start, it's about half the height it would be if it was a laser printer. It still has quite a deep footprint. The reduced height makes it easy to replace consumables; just lift the printer's top cover and slide the toners out.

Page yields are still roughly the same; you'll get 2,500 pages from the Brother HL-3070CW's black toner and 1,500 pages from each colour. The Brother HL-3070CW is fairly expensive to run for a laser printer.

The Brother HL-3070CW printer only has a single-line monochrome LCD, but this is good enough for changing basic settings, navigating the contents of flash drives and locking settings access. You can also access features like Secure Print, which only prints a job once a four-digit PIN is entered, and Reprint, which stores the document for later reproduction. (Unfortunately, these two features can't be used together.)

The Brother HL-3070CW connects over USB, Ethernet and Wi-Fi. Despite the printer's tiny LCD screen, wireless setup is surprisingly easy. The printer defaults to its own ad-hoc network, which can be changed by running the wireless setup assistant directly from the install disc. This will configure the printer to join an existing network or, if your router supports Secure Easy Setup, WPS or AOSS, you can choose one of those automated systems as well. Our only qualm is that the Wi-Fi module is 802.11b, which means it won't be able to stray too far from the Wi-Fi router.

You can also directly print from USB flash drives and PictBridge-compatible devices. File format support includes JPG, PRN, TIFF, XPS and PDF documents. The effort is certainly better than Fuji Xerox's Phaser 3100MFP; there is no support for Word documents or even basic TXT/RTF files.

The front paper cassette has a maximum capacity of 250 sheets. This seems a little on the small side, particularly if you're planning to reach Brother's claimed monthly duty cycle of 25,000 pages.

The Brother HL-3070CW comes with 64MB of memory, which is good enough to handle a steady stream of print jobs in a small workplace. This is user-upgradeable to 576MB via a small side panel; upgrading the memory should let you store a few more Reprint jobs.

Print speeds aren't fantastic, but the Brother HL-3070CW colour LED printer produces decent output. Text quality is very accurate at all font sizes but the printer's fine line quality option makes for better results at 7pt. Colour isn't necessarily better than results from laser printers, as documents still occasionally suffer from mis-registration and poor alignment. Colour accuracy is mixed: the "vivid" option improved red and green hues in our test document, but it made blues look purple.

PC Wold Australia verdict

Brother's HL-3070CW colour LED printer may boast a comparatively new technology, but at the end of the day, it looks and performs like most laser printers. It certainly performs well for its price, but it's not without flaws commonly encountered on lasers.

James Hutchinson

NEXT: our expert verdict >>

PCWorld.idg.com.au

Brother HL-3070CW: Specs

  • Colour Laser Printer
  • 466x409x250mm
  • 32MB (up to 512MB)
  • AC Power
  • Maximum Resolution (Colour): 2400x600dpi
  • Direct Printing
  • A4, Plain paper: A4 (210 x 297mm)
  • Total Media Capacity (Sheets): 250
  • Monthly Duty Cycle: 25,000
  • RJ45, USB 2.0/802.11b
  • Colour Laser Printer
  • 466x409x250mm
  • 32MB (up to 512MB)
  • AC Power
  • Maximum Resolution (Colour): 2400x600dpi
  • Direct Printing
  • A4, Plain paper: A4 (210 x 297mm)
  • Total Media Capacity (Sheets): 250
  • Monthly Duty Cycle: 25,000
  • RJ45, USB 2.0/802.11b

OUR VERDICT

The Brother is a model that struggles to make itself seen. It doesn't quite match its rivals in any area. The Secure Print option is nice, but running costs are high.

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