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Laser Printers

Black and White

Brother HL-L5100DNBrother HLL5100DN
This is a great, fast, inexpensive printer with built-in wired (reliable) networking (get wireless functionality by connecting it to your WiFi router!). Rather than an MultiFunction unit, we use this for most printing in our own office. A dedicated document scanner is used to reduce incoming paper.  Such an arrangement is faster and generally saves money.

Brother HL-L6200DwBrother HLL6200DW
This is faster version (48ppm vs 42ppm) of the printer above.  Additionally, it also includes built-in wireless networking and handles more paper in its default tray and is also a bit more expandable.

Black and White Multifunction
(Print, Scan, Copy, Fax)

Brother MFC-L5900DWBrother MFCL5900DW
We have a couple dozen of this unit's predecessor in client production environments. Brother provides excellent Linux drivers not only for their printers, but also for the scanning units of multi-function devices. If you are not going to be scanning (or faxing) large amounts of paper, this unit can be a good, space-saving (somewhat) solution. Scans will not be nearly as fast as with a dedicated scanner.  On the other hand, this unit allows for one-button photocopies; document scanners typically require an extra step for photocopies.

Color Multifunction
(Print, Scan, Copy, Fax)

Brother MFC-9340DW
This has recently become one of our very favorite color laser multifunction devices.  As with the black and white units, Brother again provides excellent Linux drivers.  Versus an inkjet printer, you will not only be able to print much more quickly, but consumables costs will be significantly lower over time.

However, color photographs you wish to print on glossy (or matte) photo paper will not look quite as good as with an inkjet or thermal wax printer.

Inkjet (color) Printers

Wide format Multifunction

Brother MFC-J5520DW
An excellent all around performer, this printer can print up to 11x17" tabloid size paper.  These new Brother printers have much higher capacity (and generally less expensive) ink cartridges than their competitors and their predecessors.  They are still not as cost-effective as laser printers, but can print photo-quality images on photo-grade paper.

Brother MFCJ5720DW
Larger input paper capacity than the above (otherwise similar) printer. [The reason it looks taller is that an extra paper drawer is included (it is less expensive than adding it later).]

Standard format Multifunction

Brother MFC-J880DWBrother MFC-J880DW
The output quality of this printer is very similar to that of the above, but maximum paper size is 8.5x14" (legal).  This unit has an analog phone port and can therefore also send and receive conventional faxes.

Brother MFC-J985DWBrother MFC-J985DW
The J985DW is almost identical to the J880DW above.  However it uses high capacity Brother “INKvestment” cartridges.  In the long run these cartridges should make the printer’s total cost substantially lower than the J880DW.


Wide format

Epson Artisan 1430
An excellent all around performer, this printer can print up to 13x19" tabloid-extra size paper.  This feature makes the printer excellent for graphic artists needing to print full "bleed" magazine comp layouts or other large (well, 13x19, anyway) format work.  This printer can also print directly on pre-labeled CD and DVD discs.  It uses 6 different ink colors for very high quality print fidelity.

Epson Stylus Photo R2000
A bit similar to the Artisan 1430, this wide format printer adds the ability to print on 13“ wide roll stock in addition to conventional cut sheets.  It also uses 8 different ink colors for maximum print fidelity.  This printer also has very good options for continuous ink systems (CIS) to really maximize production capacity and minimize consumables cost.

Thermal Wax Printers

Xerox ColorQube 8580/DN
Thermal wax printers are in a completely different league than color laser printers.  Roughly twice as fast as color lasers when printing, they also are significantly more environmentally friendly and are able to print glossy, photo quality images on plain paper!  Xerox provides excellent Linux drivers for this printer.

Rather than cartridges (which are complicated plastic and metal assemblies) these printers simply take specially shaped wax blocks as "ink" consumables.  Nothing goes to the landfill and there is nothing but a cardboard box to recycle!

The only "downside" is that they take a couple minutes to warm up after being completely powered off (such as overnight or over the weekend).  [The first block of each color wax gets melted during the warmup cycle.]

On the other hand, no other type of printer will have the romantic aroma of burning candles (while slight, it is worth mentioning as a few people are bothered by it).

For some reason (probably historic — they used to take a reeeeeally long time to warm up), these printers are not very popular.  Each of our clients which has put one in place tells us they would not want to go back to a conventional color laser printer.

Page Last Edited: Thursday, January 18, 2018
Page First Published: July 24, 2015

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