The recently born Generation Z may not realise it but printing machines can differ greatly. In fact, there is a full spectrum of printing devices out there. Consider our last review. Last week, we may have reviewed another Brother printing device but it was a completely different beast than the one we’re looking at today.
That device, Brother MFC-J6530DW, was a tabloid multifunction colour laser printer while the one we’re reviewing here is a monochrome laser single-function printer. Most importantly, though, that device was an A3 printer which puts it in a highly specialised and niche market segment.
The Brother HL-L5100DN, on the other hand, suits a much larger target audience because it is an A4 printer designed for micro or small offices and workgroups. What this means is that the majority of our readers would find the Brother HL-L5100DN to be more suitable to their needs. Here’s our review.
Strengths of Brother HL-L5100DN
There is very little wrong with the Brother HL-L5100DN. In fact, it has more strengths than weaknesses. Its qualities can be best highlighted by focusing on three variables – print speed, paper capacity, and output quality. We’ll start with speed.
The Brother HL-L5100DN has been described by many as lightning fast. It is rated to print at a speed of 40 pages per minute (ppm). Unlike many of its competitors, it does justice to its rated speed as well. This makes this printer one of the fastest in the market not only in terms of its rated speed but also its effective speed.
Paper handling capacity of the Brother HL-L5100DN also makes it stand out amongst its competitors. While it’s standard paper capacity is fairly average and basic, the device excels in terms of scalability. The standard variant of the HL-L5100DN can handle 300 sheets at one time, divided between a 250-sheet paper tray and a 50-sheet multipurpose tray.
It is possible to take this amount to as high as 1,340 sheets, though, with the addition of two 520-sheet secondary paper trays. If that is too much paper capacity for you, you can go halfway also by choosing two 250-sheet secondary paper trays instead. The halfway option will enhance your device’s paper handling capacity to 800 sheets.
The speed and maximum paper handling capacity of this device support each other very well because they allow for high volume printing. However, to truly be effective, the print speed and paper handling combo needs to be backed by the duty cycle of the print engine. Luckily, the Brother HL-L5100DN’s monthly recommended print range is 500 to 3,500 pages.
Not only is the Brother HL-L5100DN a prolific printer but it also delivers quality. The print output quality would’ve been excellent if not for a little flaw. As it is, it is quite impressive. If you print a text document on the HL-L5100DN, you’ll get nothing short of superlative quality with a maximum rated resolution of 1200 x 1200 dots per inch (dpi).
Moreover, for a laser printer, even photo output quality is average rather than below par. What is below average, however, is graphic printing. It is this that blemishes the overall excellence of this device’s print output quality.
Additionally, this device also comes standard with the automatic duplexing capability. While this feature is quickly becoming standard in all modern printers, it is still not seen so frequently in this price bracket. However, the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) has made sure to include this feature in the Brother HL-L5100DN.
The best part about the Brother HL-L5100DN is that all these advantages are available at a very manageable cost, regardless of whether you look at the initial acquisition cost or the regular running costs.
The acquisition cost for this device puts one step above entry level devices. The listed cost of this device is around $300 but it is possible to get it at a knockdown price around $215.
In terms of running costs, this is one of the most economical devices in its market segment. Like always, the per-page costs will vary on the basis of where you get your cartridges from. If you use genuine or OEM cartridges then you’ll end up spending about 3.19 cents for every page you print. While this is already low, it can go lower if you use generic or compatible cartridges. You can bring this down to about 2.8 cents per page.
Weaknesses of Brother HL-L5100DN
The Brother HL-L5100DN only offers two connectivity options to users. The first is USB 2.0 and the other is Ethernet. There is not even wireless connectivity option, leave alone Wi-Fi Direct. Effectively, this means that you only really have one connectivity option open to you if you want mobile connectivity.
If you connect to the device via the USB 2.0 port, you’ll be giving up mobile connectivity. However, if you connect to it through the Ethernet port, you get the full range of mobile platform compatibility including Mopria, Google Cloud Print, Air Print, and iPrintScan.
Key Features of Brother HL-L5100DN
The Brother HL-L5100DN is a fairly compact printer, even though its dimensions make it a little boxy. It measures 373mm in width, 388mm in depth, and 255mm in height. It doesn’t even weigh a lot and is just over 9 Kg.
Inside the device, you’ll find the Cortex A9 800 MHz processors supplemented by a 256MB RAM. These two combine to give the device a decent first print-out time. From the ‘Ready’ mode, you can expect to get your printed page in less than eight seconds but be ready to wait 1.5 seconds more if the device is in ‘Sleep’ mode.
Even though it is a single function device, the OEM has provided a control panel that comprises a 1-line, 16-characters LCD display screen, some buttons and a two LED status lights (Error and Network). The buttons on the control panel are for various functions such as ‘Power’, ‘Network’, ‘Back’, ‘OK’. ‘Cancel’, ‘Go’, and navigation.
The Brother HL-L5100DN comes with a 12-month return to base warranty.