Thursday, January 15, 2015

Laser Printers Comparisons - Brother MFC-L2700DW vs HP2200D vs HP1018 vs Pantum P2502W

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So since I’m going back to school, I have more stuff to print. I’m not ready to going completely digital yet, I prefer most of the stuff to be printed for reading. Digital versions made it easy for searching based on keywords, but when actual reading, marking notes, or cross referencing etc, I still found paper to be much better. Anyways, the aging HP2200D while worked OK (except for some occasional paper jamming) for light printing over the past 3 or so years, it can’t satisfy my needs any more. I’m looking for a better AIO laser with auto duplex function. Of course the printing cost has to be reasonable. So I settled on a brother MFC-L2700DW during the recent Staples sales. Cost me about $80 after tax.
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It’s the lowest model in brother’s L27xx line (2700, 2720, 2740). These are the smallest MFC’s in their line up. This one is the slowest in terms ppm. The 2720 and 2740 has a 2.7’' touch screen display, while this 2700 has a 2 line LCD with no backlights. I actually prefer the physical buttons, but no backlights make it hard to operate under low light for scanning. (Brohter’s software is not the best, so I prefer using the machine). The highest model 2740 features a dual scanning component in ADF that can scan both sides in one pass. I rarely need to scan any documents both sides, so I can live with that. Scanning speed is on par with the EPSON Artisan 725. The 2740 also has some fancy network apps. But everything you can achieve with their mobile app.
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It features a 150 page tray, which is a little bit small, but more than enough. But the output tray is so narrow and can’t accommodate to more than a few paper is a bit let down. Of course there’s a second tray that you can pull out at the back. But my space is limited I don’t want to use that option.
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The brother uses a new cartridge TN-630/660. There are already third party compatible cartridges out there selling for under $25 for TN-660, the high yield one which is rated for 2600 pages at 5% ISO coverage. So the printing cost is pretty reasonable. Of course for brother, you need to consider the drum cost down the road, but I believe by the time I would need to replace that, I’m graduating from the school. The machine already came with a starter toner just like all other printers. So far I’m not happy with the printing quality though. The printing is a bit blurry and light compare to my HP2200D and a few other printers I’ll talk about later. I’m not sure if it’s a problem with the drum. There is no third party drum yet.
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Well, actually the HP2200D comes with a duplex module installed already, and added network card as well. The duplex option never worked well for not even large job, say anything over 5 pages, it would jam. I had attempted to fix it up with changing all rollers, but only end up with no marginal improvement. The only fix is to use heavier paper. But I have too many free copy paper from Staples over the years… The rollers end up being sunk cost. But it’s not bad to finally motivate me to open up the printer to see what’s inside.
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Well, it’s mostly mechanical rollers, linkages inside, nothing fancy for a printer that’s more than 10 years old.
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Before the brother, I actually also have a HP1018, and then bought a Pantum P2502W not long before. The HP1018 is a pretty neat little printer except there’s no network option. The open air paper tray makes it easier for manual double sided printer despite no auto duplex. But the no network function is absolutely a deal breaker nowadays. I tried the printer share function from the LENOVO NAS, but it couldn’t work reliably.
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The Pantum P2502W was just an impulse buy during the Christmas. It’s an exclusive item from Newegg. I’ve never heard of this brand before. It turned out to be a Chinese company. And $30 seems like a cheap enough to try it at the time. It’s very similar design of the HP1018 plus the network(WIFI only) function. First time activating the WIFI is a bit strange, has to use a USB cable attached to PC to do that. But once WIFI is activated, adding the printer to other PCs is a breeze, windows 7 can even pull off the driver automatically. (The pantum website was very unreliable and slow). The printing speed and quality is very decent, certainly matches the HP performance.
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The down side is there’s no third party toner available. The replacement PB-210 toner is only available Newegg for much more than what this printer cost… I’ve read on some Chinese website that you can add powder by yourself, but I just couldn’t figure out exactly which powder are compatible.
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So I’m settled on the brother for now. I’m reasonably happy with the overall performance. Just not so satisfied with the printing quality, not sure if it’s the included starter toner/drum issue. I might try some third party once the drum became available…