Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Is Brother running a scam with its HL-2270DW printer and TN-450 toner cartridge?

I think with the HL-2270DW  and its TN-450 toner cartridge Brother has figured out how to apply the ink-jet business model to the previously cost effective laser printer. The printer may be cheap, but the toner isn't. At our current use this $150 printer will cost us about $450 a year to operate. Using its default settings it's a good printer for very occasional use, but a poor printer for regular use. Wirecutter's recommendation is undeserved.

I'll describe our experience, two workarounds you need to know about, and why you should consider a different printer.

Our experience is that in printing 1,459 pages we have completely consumed the 150-200 page "starter cartridge" that comes with the printer and almost two "2,600 page" ($45) TN-450 cartridges. We're getting about 600 pages out of the "ISO/IEC 19752" 2,600 page cartridge.

Screen Shot 2013 05 21 at 7 01 16 PM

This is quite different from our previous MFC-7820N and 2140 printers. At first I thought Amazon had shipped a defective or counterfeit cartridge, but I had almost exactly the same results from a different supplier. Both packages had Brother's standard hologram; I don't think they were counterfeit. This printer simply uses a lot of toner when printing text pages with images, and Brother charges a lot for its matched cartridges.

Ah, but who uses a b&w laser printer to print images? It's a kid thing in our house. It means we're running into this problem a lot sooner than most, but if you found this page via Google you may be seeing a lesser version of it.

Did Brother design this printer and cartridge to consumer large amounts of toner, or was it a happy accident? I don't know, but it doesn't matter. If you're using this printer for anything more than the occasional letter you need to read the manual [1] and turn Toner Save on.

toner save on

With Toner Save on, and Replace Toner Continue, toner consumption starts to resemble other low end printers. The print quality is lighter but tolerable.

 Replace toner continuous

Really though, if you do anything but the most occasional printing, you shouldn't buy this printer. The 1,500 pages we've printed (I just printed another) mean we're already at 12% of the 10,541 page drum life. We'll be finished with this printer in about 16 months. What a waste!

So, if I were to do it all over again, what would I buy? I'd love to say I'd get something from HP or Samsung or anything else, but the truth is the home printer business is dying. Brother was always the best of the lot, and even though this printer is a bit of a scam the competition looks even worse. Sadly, I'd probably buy another Brother, but one made for heavier use.

The Brother I recommend is HL-6180DW ($230); its TN-780 is "12,000" pages ($105, so half the page cost of the TN-450 even if this Brother also burns toner) and the drum life is 30,000 pages. It also ships with a standard "3,000 page" cartridge instead of a 200 page "starter" cartridge. Over the cost of a year, for even moderate users, the HL-6180DW is better and cheaper than the HL-2270DW. Buy that one instead. [2]

- fn - 

[1] If you don't want to read the manual or install Brother apps, the quickest way to the web interface is print preferences, open queue, choose settings, click on Show Printer Webpage:

Screen Shot 2013 05 21 at 7 01 32 PM 

[2] Brother has an HL-5450DN that ships with a 3,000 page cartridge, has a 30,000 page drum, and costs $150. I was insane to listen to Wirecutter and buy the HL-2270DW. I hope I've learned my lesson.


Dave Ritchie said...

You might browse Ebay and look for OEM compatible drums and toner. much cheaper than the Brother OEM parts. I was initially resistant to this printer until I found Ebay as a source for replacement consumable parts.

Unknown said...

Belated post but I am getting non-brother cartridges that work perfectly on Amazon.com (with free Prime shipping) for around $8! EIGHT BUCKS SHIPPED. I had to reinstall driver when it didn't print at first but this may have been due to other network and software changes made between the time cartridge ran out and I ordered the new one, which was about 6 weeks (I had access to a school printer)... the cheapest yet :-) Other reviewers seem to be happy with generics, too.