I love my HP Photosmart 6520. It’s easy to use, has great management software, is fast, has duplex printing, mobile printing, etc. But even with the big 564XL cartridges, it costs me a fortune in ink. If you print a lot of black and white for your home office or small business, a good inkjet is going to cost you an arm and a leg. At that point, its time to invest in a laser printer. While the 564XL in my HP is good for 550 pages, laser toner cartridges are rated for at least 3 times that. While they used to be super expensive, you can now get a really good one for under $150. We’re going to take a look at one of those today, Brother’s HL-L2360DW.
Specs and Features
If you’re looking for bells and whistles like a touch screen or a scanner, it has none of those, though there is a sister model that has them. But, this is your standard small laser printer with modern amenities. You get 32ppm of monochrome and the HL-L2360DW lives up to that. It can print in duplex and it really doesn’t slow it down much. I was able to print a 50-page book in under two minutes. To put this in perspective, the faster inkjets are about 20ppm in draft mode and about 12 in the same kind of quality you’d see in a laser. Print quality was excellent with text and very good with images, though it tended to be a bit dark. The tray can fit up to 250 sheets. This is better than the 50-100 you find in your inkjet,but you can also run through it pretty quickly. The most important spec, however is the reliability. The only times it stopped printing during my month of usage were to tell me it had run out of paper and needed to be fed with a new toner cartridge. Absolutely rock solid. You would expect nothing less from a company that has been making laser printers as long as Brother.
The HL-L2360DW comes with a starter toner cartridge good for about 700 pages of printing. I hate when companies do this, but you at least have a couple days to get a retail toner cartridge before you run out. The standard TN-630 toner cartridge will give about 1600 pages, while the high capacity TN-660 gives you 2600 sheets. The DR-630 drum unit will last for 12,000 sheets before replacement. The TN-630 can be found in most Staples & Best Buy stores. The high cap TN-660 usually has to be ordered, as does the DR-630 drum unit. If continual uptime is a necessity, you’ll want to have a backup of the latter two on hand since it could take a couple days to receive a replacement. Replacing the toner will only take a couple seconds, though.
While it looks like your small standard office laser, it has a few modern tricks up its sleeve. You have 3 options for connecting: direct with USB 2.0, 100Base-T Ethernet, and wireless up to 802.11n. In addition to computers, it can also connect to mobile devices though Apple AirPrint and Google’s Cloud Print. They also have their own service called Brother iPrint & Scan. It was easily recognized by my iPhone 5S.
Setup and Maintenance – The Frustrating Part
Using the HL-L2360DW is a breeze. Setting it up and changing settings is a chore. In theory, it comes with a setup wizard that should allow your Mac or PC or easily connect it to your network. That didn’t work. The printer was not recognized by my MacBook Pro over USB. I also tried and failed to get it connected by Wi-Fi. I would have tried the Ethernet port had I had the adapter for my MBPR. I had to manually enter my Wi-Fi password. However, working with Brother, this turned out to be an isolated incident that could not be reproduced.
The HL-L2360DW has a single line LCD display that is a leftover from the 90s and early 2000s. Adding in a long alphanumeric password is not a fun experience. In fact, you pretty much want to ignore that screen if you really have to. Would it have killed Brother to put in a small 1.5″ LCD touch or even non-touch screen? This printer is too feature-packed for that 1-line screen.
It would be better if Brother had great management software and a mobile app. Instead, it’s pretty barebones. It could relay error messages from the printer, but that’s about it. It didn’t even get a low toner message, it just plain ran out. As for the mobile app, it has NO management capability. It allows you to print and scan documents and gives you access to various cloud services. If you were wondering about the status of the printer, you really have to get through the maze of menus on that relic single line LCD screen. Like I said earlier, have spares on hand.
Pricing and Availability
At about $150 or slightly less, the HL-L2360DW is affordable to add to your office. It’s worth every penny. The TN-630 toner cartridge is $32.99 at Staples, the TN-660 is 50.99, and the DR-630 drum unit it is $78.99. With the standard TN-630 cartridge, you get 3 times the number of black and white pages my inkjet’s 564XL cartridge for $10 more. The TN-660 gives you 5 times the longevity for double the price. If you print a lot of black and white, this laser gives you a lot more bang for your buck.
The HL-L2360DW was exactly what I hoped it was, a reliable and fast laser printer that doesn’t break the bank. In fact, it performs better than more expensive units I worked with just a few years back. If you’re a small shop and don’t need a lot of pages printed, but your inkjet is costing an arm and a leg, this is an excellent option. It’ll be a little frustrating if you ever have to use the menu and set up is a pain if you’re on a Mac, but with the impressive uptime it’s something you can overlook. You set it and forget it. I would buy the HL-L2360DW in a heartbeat. In fact, I’m already budgeting for one.