Multi-function printers may offer loads of features, but they tend to be quite large, and not everyone needs extras like fax support. If your printing needs don't stretch beyond needing to print black and white text and graphics, then the entry-level HL-2240 might fit the bill. It's a small and compact monochrome laser printer that's priced at a very reasonable £80.
Like other entry-level models in the Brother range, the HL-2240 is very small and square. It measures just 368 by 183 by 360mm. Design-wise, it's an ideal choice for those with home offices that are short on space, and the black and grey colour scheme looks quite professional.
Unlike most laser printers that we see, this one doesn't have an LCD display and so there are no menus to navigate. Instead, it has three LEDs to indicate toner, drum and general errors, along with a green LED to show when it's ready to print. There's a large green button marked 'go' sitting beneath these LEDs, but its sole function seems to be to instruct the printer to produce a test page when it's pressed.
Despite its small size, this model still manages to house a pull-out paper tray at the bottom that holds up to 250 sheets of paper. Sitting above this, behind a pull-down flap, there's a single-sheet paper feeder than can be used to feed envelopes and other odd-sized pieces of paper into the printer.
All printed material comes out the top and is fed into a tray that's slightly recessed into the printer's body. There's also a flip-up paper stopper that stops sheets from working their way out of the tray and onto the floor.
Note that the HL-2240 doesn't offer duplex printing, so, if you want to print on both sides of a piece of paper, you have to manually turn the sheet over and place it back in the paper tray. This model also lacks both Ethernet and Wi-Fi support, so it can only be connected to your computer via USB.
Setting the printer up is pretty straightforward. You just remove some protective tabs, take out the toner and drum cartridges, give the former a gentle shake to make sure the toner is evenly distributed, and then place them back in their slot in the belly of the printer. Then it's simply a matter of loading the drivers onto your computer and connecting it up with a USB lead. The whole process only takes a couple of minutes.
Rather than using a combined toner and drum cartridge, Brother has kept them separate. This helps to cut down on waste, as you don't have to replace the drum every time the toner cartridge runs out.
The drum actually lasts for around 12,000 sheets, whereas the toner is good for either 1,200 or 2,600 pages, depending on which toner cartridge you choose. When it comes to print costs, this model isn't supremely cheap, but neither is it all that expensive. Using online prices as our guide, costs work out at around 3.3p per page, with that figure including 0.7p for paper costs.
Given that the HL-2240 is priced at a rather lowly £80, its print speed is pretty impressive. It took just 34 seconds to produce our ten-page black and white text document, and a mere 36 seconds to print off ten copies of our black and white graphics document. It was a tad faster at printing our ten-page business presentation, taking just 33 seconds.
Print quality is slightly better than expected, considering the printer's low price. Its text quality is particularly impressive, as individual characters are cleanly formed, and text looks deep and dark on the page. This good performance carries over even when you use the toner-save mode, which can eke out longer life from the toner cartridge.
As with many budget laser printers, the HL-2240's graphics output isn't in the same class as its text output. Lines and symbols on our test document looked crisp and clean, but grey fills showed significant amounts of banding.
The Brother HL-2240 is a decent printer for the money. It's fast, reasonably cheap to run and produces results that will be more than good enough for most home offices.
Edited by Charles Kloet