First, Let me restate my belief that, for most users a first printer should be a laser printer. The low initial cost of many inkjet printers masks the exceptionally high cost of operation for many daily users.

Occasional use of inkjet printers makes costs even higher.  Printhead clogging and ink cartridges drying out are common with occasional use, so replacement of ink and/or printheads before they have been normally exhausted is a high probability.  Some inkjet printers have replaceable printheads and some are made with the printhead as part of the ink cartridge, at higher cost for the ink, of course.  Typically, ink cartridges require replacement in as little as 250 pages of black text and a relatively small number of color documents.  Photo printing, of course, uses even more ink.  On the other hand, you just can’t print color without a color printer, but I still recommend a laser printer as the primary or workhorse printer for home or office.  Quality, no-frills laser printers start for as little as $200, and often considerably less.

The cost of operation of a typical black-print laser printer is about one to one and one half cents per page.  Laser toner cartridges capable of from 3,000 to as many as 8,000 copies cost from about $50 to about $150, depending upon the requirements and specifications of a particular printer.  Ink for inkjet printers can run from about $11 for a single color to as much as $30.  As a general rule, figure costs at about $50 for a complete set of cartridges that may last for about 300 pages or so.

Here at Gadget Central, we have five computer users and up to 10 computers.  I found some excellent values in sub-$200 laser printers and equipped three stations with simple laser printers.

We also have an outstanding Canon i850 color inkjet printer connected to one computer for our color photo and document needs

However, for laptops and for all the PCs in use, as well as for heavy-duty black text or graphics printing, I wanted a single, networked laser printer.  I investigated options and decided upon the Brother HL-5070N, selling for about $500.  I simply wanted a printer that appeared as if it would deliver the kind of service and longevity, with features and quality, and without leaving me wanting more.  I could have looked at less expensive models, but even at $300 – $400 for a low-end networked printer, this one was just a bit nicer and more “polished” for my purposes, at least until the cost of a color laser printer makes the purchase of one of those a reasonable option.

The objective was to save money, increase efficiently and provide top quality printing from ANY computer on the network (and they are all on the network).  Instead of having to buy more laser printers each requiring its own set of consumable supplies, there would be one to conveniently serve many.  If it lasts even five years, it would be worth the cost, but I am confident of a much longer life.

With standard, built-in Hi-Speed USB, Parallel and 10/100 Ethernet interfaces, I installed the printer and its software on all the OS X Macs and Windows XP PCs.

Setup as a networked printer was a no-brainer and now, I can print to the Brother as if hard connected when, in fact, it is not directly connected to any computer – but it COULD be, if that were a part of the set-up here.

The HL-5070N is also accessible to any of the other Macs running Mac OS X via Apple’s excellent, elegant and simple to use Rendezvous technology, which allows printing to any Rendezvous-compatible printers from any Mac on the network. This is really fantastic! (Brother Rendezvous info is HERE.)  Brother was among the first companies to support Rendezvous with a new product.

Since the HL-5070N is on the network, its internal settings are accessible via Web browser.  In other words, the printer has its own numerical URL or address for access through a standard browser window by any computer on the network.  Once inside, so to speak, default settings are made and maintenance needs can be assessed.  The amount of paper run through the printer, and the percent of remaining toner and life of the drum are also shown.

Each computer has the same flexible document handling before printing choices as if hard-wired to a single computer.

Printing is fast, too.  That is, from the time I give the “Print” command to the time the HL-5070N awakens from its automatic low-power sleep mode and then starts cranking out documents is momentary.  Then, depending upon the degree of complexity, it continues to crank out pages at the rate of up to 17 pages per minute.

The HL-5070 holds a generous 250 pages in its bottom front-loading standard tray (with a handy mechanical indicator to show an approximate amount of remaining paper, similar to an automotive fuel gauge), and up to 50 sheets in the front accessible pull-down multi-purpose tray (for card stock, letterhead and envelopes).  There is a rear pull-open output tray for straight through paper path that I use for card stock and envelopes when I am working nearby on my networked Mac desktop computer.

Standard memory is 16MB, upgradeable to 144MB.  And, befitting a versatile workhorse printer, it also supports Adobe PostScript3.

To say that we are all enjoying this printer would be an understatement.  The HL-5070N replaces our venerable, if ancient, networked Apple LaserWriter IIg, purchased in and in constant use since 1991.  The Apple printer is a 300dpi model that has performed flawlessly and tirelessly over the years, NEVER requiring a service visit.  But, by comparison, it is slow, large, heavy, energy hungry, has lower resolution and is not fully compatible with everything around here any more.

The HL-5070 is simply spectacular, exceeding my expectations.  It prints at up to 2400 x 600 (optimized) dpi, normally set to 600dpi or as little as 300dpi, which may be fine for day-to-day use.  I set mine to a default of 600dpi.  It is pretty quiet in operation.  Energy consumption is 460W when printing, 75W in standby and a miserly 6w in sleep mode, while it is just sitting there waiting to be used.  No need to switch it off!

Two toner cartridges are available – the standard, included TN-530 is rated at about 3,300 pages while the TN-560 is rated at about 6,500 pages and at a cost of about $70 at this time.  DR-500 drum life is stated at up to a customary 20,000 pages, with a current replacement cost of about $120.  Not bad at all!  Each is EASILY user replaceable.

I am also impressed with Brother’s online presence.  Their Website is easy to navigate and provides useful and easily understood information.  There are also links to software and animations showing how to change toner and drum.  Nice job, Brother! Have a look at the info page for this printer and other similar Brother models HERE.

Brother includes a one-year warranty and excellent online service information at http://solutions.brother.com/index.html. Phone-in weekday customer care is at 1-800-276-7746.

If your needs include what this printer has to offer, I am pleased to recommend this Brother HL-5070N to you for your hi-tech home or office!

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