Average user rating
- Reasonable price;
- PIN-protected printing
- Moderate performance and print quality;
- duplexing is optional
Brother’s latest colour laser printer is aimed at smaller networks. Offering a respectable balance of driver support, paper handling and performance, the HL-2700CN is worth considering if you need a colour laser printer that’s network-ready and is easy to operate. If print quality, speed and paper handling options are more important factors, there are better products available.
The HL-2700CN is fairly compact for a colour laser printer, measuring 48cm by 42cm by 38.5cm and weighing 30.5kg. Its rounded design and colourful control panel buttons should suit most modern working environments. The control panel is intuitive to use due to the fact that there are only four buttons, although the 2-line backlit LCD that displays the printer’s status and is used to navigate menus is a little on the small side. We like the way the display changes to show the emulation you've chosen when the printer is in standby mode, as well as the way that the display also shows the appropriate error message, maintenance message or call service message so you'll know that you need to take action in the event of a problem.
The printer comes network-ready and is supplied as standard with a 250-sheet paper-input capacity and a claimed colour print speed of up to 8ppm and 31ppm monochrome (which wasn’t achieved in testing). The unit is powered by a quick 300MHz processor and 64MB of memory (upgradeable to 576MB), but we found that it printed even large documents relatively quickly and effortlessly. The latest PCL emulation is supplied on the driver CD-ROM, but there’s no native PostScript support. Paper handling and throughput paths are conventional. Paper is loaded into a 250-sheet paper-input tray located at the bottom of the printer and sheets are output face-down onto the output tray. There’s no automatic document feeder or memory card readers, but you do get PIN protected printing, which is critical in sensitive environments such as HR or finance, enlarged ‘poster’ printing and the ability to condense up to 25 pages onto one sheet of A4, cutting paper consumption and the need for archive space. Brother also supplies its own BR-Admin network management software, which is an easy-to-use application for managing both Brother and other supported printers on a network. Unfortunately, automatic duplexing is an optional extra rather than a standard feature. Brother supplies its Flash-based help application with the HL-2700CN, which offers an easy-to-navigate menu and animations to help you diagnose and rectify most print errors you may encounter. Topics covered are fairly rudimentary to anyone with office printing experience, but it’s still a useful inclusion and could save you downtime in a busy working environment.
The HL-2700CN outputs at a default resolution of 600dpi, although you can get a higher print quality (equivalent to around 2,400dpi) using Brother’s built-in High Resolution Control (HRC) and Color Advanced Photoscale Technology (CAPT). We struggled to notice the difference in quality with typical office documents when we used the higher-resolution settings, but photographs looked a little sharper with slightly less banding. Regardless of support for 256 shades for each colour in PCL6 emulation and BR-Script3, greyscale output was very disappointing and those working with high-quality images will be disappointed by the printer’s lack of range. In particular, solid areas of colour suffered from banding and large areas of black look washed out, appearing more grey than black. Colours were also saturated and lacked fine detail, but you can tweak brightness, contrast, RGB and saturation levels in the driver software. Text reproduction was better, being both crisp and clear with little evidence of bleeding or banding. A problem we did encounter was that monochrome graphics, such as company logos and barcodes, showed signs of colour when printed using the HL-2700CN’s ‘Full Colour’ mode. For instance, a black logo had a slight yellow fringe. Also, solid black barcodes suffered from additional colour artefacts. Swapping the printer’s driver setting over to ‘Mono’ rectified the problem, but you may find yourself frequently switching modes to get the best results. Printer manufacturers’ claimed print speeds are rarely met, and the HL-2700CN is no exception. Although Brother says the printer can output at a rate of up to 31ppm in monochrome mode and 8ppm in full colour mode, in our tests print speeds were much more modest. We outputted an A4 colour photograph in 1minute and 51 seconds (0.54ppm), a colour 6in. by 4in. photograph in 34 seconds and a monochrome 12-page text file in 1minute 45 seconds (6.86ppm). Finally, the HL-2700CN took 3 minutes and 53 seconds to print a graphics-heavy 20-page presentation file (5.15ppm), which is reasonable considering its relatively low cost. Bear in mind that print speed is reduced around threefold when you boost the printer’s quality settings to the maximum.
Service & support
The HL-2700CN comes with a standard one-year warranty, and various extended warranty options are available at extra cost. Brother's online 'Product Knowledge Store' provides documentation, FAQs and drivers. Technical help is available via email, while telephone support is available from 8.45am to 5.30pm Mondays to Thursdays and 8.45am to 4.20pm on Fridays.