The Brother HL-5340D's looks aren't exactly alluring. Mono laser printers remain resolutely unglamorous, but the fact is, for many an office it'll be capable little page churners like the HL-5340D that turn out the majority of the print jobs.

Devices such as the Brother HL-5340D tend not to be overburdened with fancy features or with flimsy styling that's destined to lose lustre when faced with the everyday needs of office workers.

Indeed, unusual the Brother HL-5340D's corrugated output tray may be, but we suspect it's so for a reason. It's functional, and even without putting up the flaps, this printer had no problems catching the paper as it popped out of the feed. In essence, there's little on this printer that can be easily damaged

Panel buttons are kept to a minimum too, and this is actually one of the easiest printers to both use and install - our Brother HL-5340D was up and printing sheets within six minutes of emerging from the box.

The Brother HL-5340D isn't heavily featured, and even network support is omitted. Those wanting to run it on a network will need to pay the extra £40 for the HL-5350DN, which features Ethernet support.

The Brother HL-5340D meanwhile is strong where it matters though. Not only do you get the excellent duplex feature (more of this later), but the 250-sheet tray allows for quite extensive print jobs.

And £82 will buy you an additional 250 sheet tray, should you need it, expanding the Brother HL-5340D further. You might want to upgrade the memory, though, as the 16MB is a paltry amount that wouldn't let us print a number of images at the highest resolution.

The resolution support itself is quite interesting, as the Brother HL-5340D has four different modes - 300dpi, 600dpi, 1200dpi and HQ 1200dpi. Other lasers may have more than one resolution, but the difference in speed is generally minimal, with the only real consideration one of whether you want to save toner or not. The Brother HL-5340D does vary quite dramatically depending on which resolution you choose - actually more akin to an inkjet in approach.

The fastest mode (300dpi) may produce a real-world figure of 24ppm - quite close to the stated figure of 30ppm - which becomes even more impressive given that, of the 25 seconds needed, 10 of them were spent on warming up. The more pages you print, the higher the ppm figure will get.

However, the Brother HL-5340D's output, while dark, isn't as clean as you'd expect from a laser. Indeed, the slightly fuzzy lettering is closer in quality to that of a good inkjet. Admittedly such output is available at a much higher speed than would be the case on such an inkjet. But for high quality output you really do need to be looking to the 600dpi mode, which produces a less impressive figure of 18.7ppm.

The HQ 1200dpi mode produces slightly darker output at a rate of 17.6ppm. The best quality comes from the clean and precise raw 1200dpi mode, although the ppm does drop here to just 11.3 - not a particularly appetising figure for a laser.

NEXT PAGE: graphics output

The Brother HL-5340D's looks aren't exactly alluring. Mono laser printers remain resolutely unglamorous, but the fact is, for many an office it'll be capable little page churners like the HL-5340D that turn out the majority of the print jobs.

So, the Brother HL-5340D offers decent performance, but isn't perhaps as much of a speed demon as you might be expecting from the quoted figures - and certainly not if you want true laser quality.

It's nice to have the versatility, but for practical purposes you should regard around 18ppm as the true speed rather than 24ppm. These are still nice figures (and will increase as print jobs get larger), but it isn't as fast as some mono lasers.

Graphics output is fairly decent. You're never going to get fantastic reproduction of photographs from a mono laser, but the Brother HL-5340D shows relatively good detail levels, and will certainly make a strong job of PowerPoint presentations and similar images. The speed is very close to that of the text output, with 600dpi available at 13ppm - just 1.3ppm slower than the 300dpi results.

The Brother HL-5340D's last feature is one of its most important - built-in duplexing. Allowing the HL-5340D to automatically print to both sides of a sheet, this is an invaluable cost-saving exercise.

And it's not as costly in terms of performance as on some lasers - the 600dpi output drops from 18.7ppm to 10.9ppm, which to many companies will be a worthwhile compromise given how much money will be saved on paper. In fact, the Brother's overall running costs are very low, making this an very economical method of running off sizeable print jobs.

NEXT PAGE: our expert verdict

Brother HL-5340D: Specs

  • Mono Laser Printer
  • Max resolution 1,200x1,200dpi
  • Quoted print speed B=30ppm
  • Actual print speed B=ppm
  • Supported interface types USB 2.0, Parallel
  • 250-sheet input
  • 371x384x246mm
  • 9.5kg
  • Toner costs B=£115
  • Print life (pages) B=8,000
  • 1-year warranty
  • Mono Laser Printer
  • Max resolution 1,200x1,200dpi
  • Quoted print speed B=30ppm
  • Actual print speed B=ppm
  • Supported interface types USB 2.0, Parallel
  • 250-sheet input
  • 371x384x246mm
  • 9.5kg
  • Toner costs B=£115
  • Print life (pages) B=8,000
  • 1-year warranty

OUR VERDICT

The Brother HL-5340D isn’t staggeringly sophisticated, but it still performs its job extremely well. It excels in most areas, and the low running costs and useful duplex feature will make it an extremely profitable purchase. You’ll have to buy the £230 5350DN though, should you need network support.

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