The Brother HL-5250DN network-enabled small-office laser printer has it all.

Brother has another winner on its hands with the Brother HL-5250DN. Its low price tag and compact footprint make it a good fit for the tight budgets and crowded workspaces of many small offices.

Yet the Brother HL-5250DN is an attractive monochrome laser printer that also produces top output quality at outstanding speed, can print on both sides of the paper, and hooks up easily to your network.

In addition to a standard 250-sheet paper tray in the Brother HL-5250DN's base, the front panel folds forward to reveal another tray that can feed up to 50 sheets of alternate media. You have to use this secondary tray to feed envelopes and, although you can stack them only three high, that's better than other printers that take only one at a time.

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The Brother HL-5250DN lacks a rear exit to provide a flat paper path, so there's some chance of creasing the edges of your envelopes. However, the advantages of a built-in duplexer at this price should outweigh that risk.

You can attach up to two optional 250-sheet paper trays to the bottom of the Brother HL-5250DN, but they cost extra.

The control panel to the right of the Brother HL-5250DN's 150-sheet output bin consists of just two buttons and four lights. Even without LCD-based menus for entering network parameters, the printer is easy to install, thanks in part to Brother's efficient, if not colourful, setup booklet. You get no other printed documentation, but the software CD-ROM includes a video to illustrate the initial setup and the User's Guide as a PDF document. You can download Brother's useful set of network administration tools at no cost from the company's website (www.brother.co.uk).

Replacing the toner cartridge is easy enough, but you have to pull the drum assembly out from the front of the printer before detaching the cartridge and attaching a new one. Out of the box, the Brother HL-5250DN comes with the standard-size toner cartridge rated by Brother (according to the industry standard of 5 percent page coverage) for 3,500 pages.

Our panel of judges positively glowed about the Brother HL-5250DN's print quality. Text looked crisp and sharp, with just a few oddities visible in the shape of some characters. Although our line art sample was a little light, its nicely distinct close parallel lines and barely perceptible banding made it one of the best samples produced by a monochrome laser printer.

Even our challenging grayscale image looked good - it was a little dark and showed some strong moiré patterns in textures, but we were impressed by the fine contrast and minimal banding produced by the Brother HL-5250DN.

In our speed tests, the Brother HL-5250DN printed text at 21.6 pages per minute, which is competitive with lasers costing several times as much. At 9.6 ppm, graphics also emerged faster from the Brother HL-5250DN than from the other models we tested this month.

Brother HL-5250DN: Specs

  • B&W Pages per Min: 30
  • Max B&W dpi: 1200-by-1200
  • Tray Capacity, pages: 300
  • 370 x 383.5 x 246.3mm
  • 10.8kg
  • 32MB internal memory
  • capacity: 250 sheets
  • Ethernet 10/100 Base T, Parallel port, USB 2.0
  • B&W Pages per Min: 30
  • Max B&W dpi: 1200-by-1200
  • Tray Capacity, pages: 300
  • 370 x 383.5 x 246.3mm
  • 10.8kg
  • 32MB internal memory
  • capacity: 250 sheets
  • Ethernet 10/100 Base T, Parallel port, USB 2.0

OUR VERDICT

With fast printing, quality output, easy networking, and a built-in duplexer, the Brother HL-5250DN would be a great choice for a small office.

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