The £99 Brother HL-2140 mono-laser printer is pitched almost to perfection.

In the rush for full technicolour, mono printers have fallen rather far from grace. However, if you're on a budget, there are plenty of excellent reasons for resisting the high-cost allure of a full colour laser. For a start, to get one of the latter with photo quality that comes anywhere near to that of a decent £100 (or even £60) inkjet, you're going to have to spend hundreds.

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Even this month's Oki C5750n (which approaches the £600 price mark) lacks total accuracy for colour printing. Inkjets, on the other hand, are frequently poor for serious text work. They're slow, consumables are expensive, and the output is often less than crisp.

That's why the £99 Brother HL-2140 is pitched almost to perfection. It's a full mono laser printer. But it's sufficiently cheap that you can run it alongside a quality inkjet for the best of both worlds. Indeed, if what you mainly print out is text work anyway, this'll again prove a good solution. But what do you really lose out on?

Well, while we wouldn't class the Brother HL-2140 as the prettiest of mono lasers, it does have a certain rugged charm. It lacks the flash of the latest HP inkjets, but we suspect you won't be breaking this printer in a jiffy.

And in keeping with Brother's drive for greater ease of use, the Brother HL-2140 is a cinch to set up. Because the consumables are front-mounted, it's easy to change the cartridges.

Quality is actually surprisingly good. You wouldn't want to use the Brother HL-2140 for any kind of serious graphical work – it's fine for printing out street maps and other such drawings, but photos are a definite no-no.

NEXT PAGE: text output, running costs and our expert verdict > >

The £99 Brother HL-2140 mono-laser printer is pitched almost to perfection.

However, the Brother HL-2140's text output is very palatable. It lacks the crispness of the high-end Dells, but compared to an inkjet, this Brother is a significant improvement. Particularly given that it managed 11.9 pages per minute (ppm) in our demanding realworld tests.

Obviously running costs are likely to be an issue with a mono laser as cheap as the Brother HL-2140, and it will cost you around twice as much to run as, for example, the Brother HL-4040CN. However, given that the latter printer costs three times as much, this is unsurprising.

If you're looking to print thousands of pages a month then the Brother HL-2140 definitely isn't a good buy. But provided you won't generally be printing more than a handful of documents a day, you shouldn't end up being too put out by the running costs.

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Brother HL-2140: Specs

  • Maximum resolution 2,400x600dpi
  • Installed RAM 8MB
  • Maximum RAM 8MB
  • Quoted print speed B=22ppm
  • Actual print speed B=11.9ppm
  • Supported interface types USB 2.0
  • Standard paper input 250 sheets
  • 368x361x170mm
  • 5.8kg
  • Toner costs B=£51
  • Print life (pages) B=2,600
  • 1-year warranty
  • Maximum resolution 2,400x600dpi
  • Installed RAM 8MB
  • Maximum RAM 8MB
  • Quoted print speed B=22ppm
  • Actual print speed B=11.9ppm
  • Supported interface types USB 2.0
  • Standard paper input 250 sheets
  • 368x361x170mm
  • 5.8kg
  • Toner costs B=£51
  • Print life (pages) B=2,600
  • 1-year warranty

OUR VERDICT

The focus of the Brother HL-2140 is clear, and as a good little text churner this laser packs the goods. Use it extensively and, in the long-term, you'll end up paying considerable amounts. But for the typical family, this is an excellent complement to a quality inkjet and thus an ideal way to arm your home with strong text to go along with great colour graphics.