Welcome to the new world of cheap color laser printers.
Starting our fourth decade: Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously online since 1983


Brother color laser puts inkjets to shame

March 1, 2015

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2015, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2015, The Post-Standard

In the 35 years I've been writing this column, I've never been so enthusiastic about a single advance in technology. At last, we have a way to escape the double curse of the inkjet printer -- the obscene cost of ink combined with the pitiful lifetime of ink cartridges -- without giving up much of the salient advantage of inkjets, their stunning photo-print quality.

And all this at a price that would make a cheapskate blush.

My friends, welcome to the new world of cheap color laser printers. If you still think color lasers cost too much and can't print great photos, get ready for a revelation. Your world just got more exciting.

Last month, my trusty old black-and-white Brother laser printer heaved a last sigh, and I began shopping for a new one. It had been four years -- a lifetime in Internet time -- since I had priced a new laser printer.

I was shocked. The improved version of my black-and-white laser printer was a little cheaper than what I paid four years ago. But what I could hardly believe was the cost of the color version. Even though it had more features (double-sided printing, for one) and could capture a rainbow on paper, it cost less than twice as much as the black-and-white version.

$179 later, my Amazon shipment arrived. I was the owner of a Brother HL-3170CDW. In the first two weeks I had it, I went crazy; I printed pictures of my parrot, my drivers license, part of Nancy's latest book, class lessons, snapshots of the mountain of snow in the backyard, slides of my old apartment in Omaha, and dozens upon dozens of high-quality photos from my lifetime collection. All in glorious color.

Oh, and, yes, lots of documents, plain and neat. Without a hitch.

I had fallen into a vat of Snickers bars. Heaven should be like this.

Laser printers are supposed to be fast, and this one is. They're supposed to be efficient, and this one is. (The four toner cartridges are still 75 percent full.) But they're not supposed to be very good printing color photos. This one is.

But before you run off a batch of color prints for your next gallery show, let me tell you the secret of getting good color prints from the Brother laser -- and, by extension, from all laser color printers. I'll spill the beans next week.