The Brother HL-4150CDN is a utilitarian colour laser printer that could be idea for a small business.

Some of today's printers are very much style over substance, using beautiful curves and flashy visuals to detract from the slightly ordinary performance. The Brother HL-4150CDN colour laser printer, however, is definitely not in this category. Utilitarian would be a polite way of describing this printer. Blocky and heavy would be more to the point. You'll need to measure up before you order this printer, as it has one of the largest footprints we've seen in a long time in the A4 printers marketplace.

Neither is the Brother HL-4150CDN obviously overflowing with features, and the simple button-driven control panel and two-line text LCD (no touch-sensitive graphical LCD panel here) make it seem rather spartan.

But this would be to miss just how effective a printer the Brother HL-4150CDN is. Scratch the surface, and the HL-4150CDN has an abundance of features. You can print directly from USB drives, and you can use Secure Print to attach a password to a file so that only those who know the password can print it out. The printer can be told not to print blank pages, and administrators can restrict the use of certain features, such as making multiple copies, scaling or printing in colour.

The Brother HL-4150CDN is intended to fill that gap between cheap printers designed for light workloads, and those more heavyweight models aiming for huge print jobs. The paper handling facilities are capable, but without being amazing. A chunky 250-sheet input tray works as the main paper source, with a 50-sheet multi-purpose tray capable of pushing the total paper handling to 300 sheets. This isn't huge, and the Kyocera FS-C5100DN, for instance, can work with 400 sheets without needing an upgrade. Nonetheless, it should be enough for decent-sized jobs. If you think you'll be running off large print jobs, you may find your needs met by bolting on the optional 500-sheet tray, boosting such facilities to 800 sheets in all.

An ethernet port is included for direct access to wired networks. No wireless access is available, though, Brother assuming that such a home-oriented option would be unwelcome to those looking to buy the HL-4150CDN.

The Brother HL-4150CDN has quoted print speeds of 24ppm in both mono and colour. Predictably it falls short, although it did finish our text tests with a typical speed of 17.1ppm. The letters are dark but not too thick, with nice character definition. As a text printer, the HL-4150CDN would work well. It also has auto duplex facilities, allowing you to print to both sides of the page in one go. Speed fell to 10.9ppm in this mode, a 29 percent drop in performance that actually compares well with the competition.

Given the already high starting speed, we could see many a user happy to go with duplexing on this printer, and that would prove an effective way of cutting down on paper costs. The duplexing feature works in a slightly different fashion on the HL-4150CDN, using two sheets of paper in one pass. At first we assumed something had gone wrong with the duplexing, but in fact this is simply a faster way of handling double-sided print. Other duplex options allow you to generate prints that can be folded in half to create four-page booklets.

Laser printers (particularly those models angled towards business) aren't generally great at colour printing, and this isn't the best feature of the Brother. The speed (12 pages per minute) is fine, but the output rather too dark. While some may quite like the intensity of the images, a lot of detail will be lost. For PowerPoint presentations and the like, though, the colour is more than sufficient.

Running costs are very reasonable provided you shop around, and it's quite possible to get prices of 1.5p and 3.2p for a page of mono and colour respectively. These costs aren't quite as cheap as those of the Kyocera FS-C5100DN, but they're still competitive with many of today's colour lasers. The one year warranty isn't particularly extensive, although you do get lifetime technical support, and, at the time of writing, you could either extend the warranty to three years, or take advantage of a £75 cashback option. If this offer is still open, it adds extra value to an already well-specified model.

Next page: Our expert verdict >>

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Brother HL-4150CDN: Specs

  • Printer
  • Print resolution 2400x600dpi
  • Quoted print speed B=24ppm C=24ppm
  • Actual print speed B=17.1ppm C=12ppm
  • Supported interface types USB 2.0, Ethernet
  • 250 sheet input tray and 50 sheet multi purpose tray
  • Dimensions (wxdxh) 410x486x313mm
  • Weight 21kg
  • Cartridge costs B=£58 C=£111 x 3
  • Print life (pages) B=4000 C=3500 x 3
  • 1-year warranty
  • Printer
  • Print resolution 2400x600dpi
  • Quoted print speed B=24ppm C=24ppm
  • Actual print speed B=17.1ppm C=12ppm
  • Supported interface types USB 2.0, Ethernet
  • 250 sheet input tray and 50 sheet multi purpose tray
  • Dimensions (wxdxh) 410x486x313mm
  • Weight 21kg
  • Cartridge costs B=£58 C=£111 x 3
  • Print life (pages) B=4000 C=3500 x 3
  • 1-year warranty

OUR VERDICT

Colour graphics isn’t the Brother’s strong point, but in most other respects it impresses. Text printing is fast and strong, with the versatile duplex facilities genuinely a practical means of cutting paper costs. Add the long list of interesting settings and menu functions, and this is a laser that’ll give capable service to many a small or medium-sized business.

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