The HL-2250DN sits towards the bottom of Brother's current line-up of monochrome laser printers. But, despite its low price tag of around £120, it still manages to offer a few extras, not least of which is the ability to automatically print on both sides of a sheet of paper.
Short and stout
This printer is very petite, with a small footprint of just 368 by 360mm. It's quite squat too, at a mere 183mm tall, so it really doesn't take up all that much room on your desk compared to most laser printers.
The design may be quite simple -- the HL-2250DN is just a plastic box with rounded corners -- but it's quite elegant too, and the matte black finish gives it a professional air, so we think it'll look just right in the average home office.
Most laser printers have a traditional control panel with an LCD screen and a cursor pad beneath for moving through menus. The HL-2250DN doesn't bother with any of this. Instead, there are three LEDs to indicate general, toner and drum errors, and a single green LED to show when the machine's ready to print. Right beneath these LEDs sits a wide, green 'go' button whose sole purpose seems to be to print a test sheet whenever it's pushed.
At the bottom of this model, there's a 250-sheet paper tray, which should be enough for most people's requirements. Above this, you'll find a single-sheet feeder hidden behind a pull-down flap. This can be used for feeding in odd paper sizes, as well as envelopes. The printer's output is spewed out of the top into a recessed tray, and there's a flip-up stopper that will prevent the paper from curling and working its way off the tray.
The installation process is reasonably hassle-fee. The HL-2250DN arrives with the toner cartridge and drum pre-installed, but, before you use it, you have to eject the cartridge to remove some protective tape and then turn it from side to side to ensure the toner is evenly distributed within the cartridge. Once you've done this, you can replace the cartridges and then install the drivers on your PC.
The HL-2250DN lacks the monochrome, two-line display you'll find on most laser printers, instead making do with simple LED warning lights.
This model uses a two-part toner and drum design, so you don't have to change the drum every time the toner runs out. The toner cartridge has a capacity of either 1,200 pages or 2,600 pages, while the drum will last for around 12,000 pages. Using online prices for the toner and drum replacements, costs work out at about 3.3p per page, which includes 0.7p for paper costs. That's some way off the cheapest running costs we've come across, but it's not the most expensive either.
You can connect the printer to your computer directly via USB or, alternatively, you can use its Ethernet port to hook it up to your network, so you can share it among multiple computers. Sadly, there's no Wi-Fi, so using a wired Ethernet lead is the only way to get the machine onto your home network.
For a printer of this price, the HL-2250DN is pretty speedy. It managed to pump out our ten-page black and white text document in 38 seconds, and also took 38 seconds to produce ten copies of our graphics test sheet. Our ten-page business presentation completed in just 33 seconds.
One of this model's key features is its support for duplex printing -- the ability to print on both sides of a piece of paper without requiring you to manually turn the sheet over. Duplex printing takes longer than single-sided printing, as you'd expect. The HL-2250DN took 1 minute and 2 seconds to produce five double-sided sheets of our black and white text document, which isn't bad.
Print quality is, on the whole, very good compared to that of similarly priced rivals. Text looks smooth and clean, and the printer even produces good text results in the toner-saving mode. It's not quite as good at graphics as it is at text printing, though. Although the lines and arrows in our graphics document were crisply reproduced, large areas of grey fill showed distinct evidence of banding.
Overall, the Brother HL-2250DN offers good value for money. It's cheap but offers enticing features, such as duplex printing and networking support. We also like the fact it's so compact.
Edited by Charles Kloet