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Brother HL-1440 Review

There's no doubt about it: Laser printers keep getting better and better while prices keep getting cheaper and cheaper. Today, just $300 will buy you the top-performing Brother HL-1440 laser printer. For your money, you'll get a printer that ranks at the head of its class for both performance and output quality, with top-notch ease of use to boot.

You'll have the petite $299 HL-1440 churning out pages in no time. Setup is brainless, and a quick-start guide walks you through the simple process of installing the integrated 20,000-page drum and 3,000-page toner cartridge. The printer has both parallel and USB ports but unfortunately doesn't come with any cables. The HL-1440 works with PCs and Macs, supporting Windows 95, 98, Me, 2000, and NT 4.0 and OS 8.5, 8.51, 8.6, and 9.0, respectively. The printer uses PCL 4 emulation and includes 24 resident bitmap fonts. Standard memory is only 2MB but is expandable to 36MB.

The full-featured software drivers are quite easy to use. We did notice a quirk with the supported media types. The HL-1440's drop-down menu offers a choice of plain, thin, thick, and thicker, among other options, but we would've preferred that the software offer more specific options or guidelines for paper types. There's also an easy-to-use manual duplex feature, which includes pop-up screens that walk you through instructions to print on both sides of the page. Should you run into any trouble, the printer offers interactive help in the form of step-by-step video clips that show you how to address problems such as a paper jam, an empty toner cartridge, or full memory.

The HL-1440 is currently the only 15ppm (pages per minute) printer in the sub-$300 price range. And as expected, it easily outperforms similarly priced 12ppm printers. In CNET Labs' tests, the HL-1440 clocked speeds of 11.4ppm for text speeds via the USB port. The closest competitors were the $399 15ppm HP LaserJet 1200 at 10.5ppm, and the 12ppm $349 NEC SuperScript 1400 at 10.1ppm. With combined text-and-graphics documents, the NEC actually outpaced the Brother, coming in at 9.7ppm compared to the Brother's 9.6ppm.

Fortunately, the HL-1440 also produced impressive output. While text looked excellent at the default 600dpi (dots per inch) resolution, it was a bit lighter than that of the LaserJet 1200. However, at tiny point sizes, this was a boon to the Brother--even at three-point font, the HL-1440 maintained its clarity. Graphics output also looked excellent, with especially smooth gradients. Upon close inspection, we could make out some dot patterns on a document at the default 600dpi resolution, but they weren't visible at a more customary distance. When we tested the printer at its highest 1,200x600dpi resolution, photographs appeared smoother than at lower resolutions.

The HL-1440 will be right at home in any small or home office. Measuring 14.2 by 16.9 by 9.3 inches and weighing just more than 20 pounds, its size won't overwhelm most desks, although its appearance is a bit boxy. The paper handling is fairly basic, with a 250-sheet input tray and a 150-sheet output capacity. The printer also has a single-sheet manual bypass tray. Supported media sizes include letter, legal executive, A4, A5, A6, B6, and envelopes. The HL-1440 takes plain paper, bond, transparencies, labels, and card stock up to 43 pounds in the bypass tray. Replacement toner cartridges run $60 for the 3,000-page capacity and $85 for the 6,000-page capacity. That works out to about 2 cents and 1.4 cents per page, respectively. If you want to reduce your costs even more, select the toner-saver mode in the print-driver settings. If you need to share the printer, Brother offers the $499 HL-1470N model, which includes an internal 10/100BaseT Ethernet card. Brother's support policy includes a one-year warranty on parts and labor and a year of the company's express exchange policy. The Brother Solutions Center Web site provides updated printer drivers in addition to more support information. The software driver also includes a Web Update button, which takes you directly to Brother's Web site for downloading the latest driver.

Good luck trying to find another $300 laser printer that delivers as much as the Brother HL-1440. You might find one used at EBAY.com for say, $100. Its speeds are quick, and its output is clean and crisp. It's also easy to set up and comes with handy features such as manual duplexing, a toner-saver mode, and interactive help videos.

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Article courtesy of CNET

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