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Brother HL-5140

The Brother HL-5140 is an affordable laser printer that will grow with your small business or home office.
Written by Jeffrey Fuchs, Contributor on
  • Editors' review
  • Specs
Brother HL-5140
The Brother HL-5140 is an affordable laser printer that will grow with your small business or home office.

The Brother HL-5140 replaces the HL-5040 as Brother's top less-than-AU$600 personal laser printer. The Brother HL-5140 features the same square design, connectivity, and upgrade options as the Brother HL-5040, but it prints much faster, thanks in part to more onboard memory. If a sharp-looking design is important to you, you should check out the snazzy, all-black Lexmark E321 instead. However, if looks don't matter and speed and expandability do, the Brother HL-5140 is the better choice for your small business or home office.

The Brother HL-5140 laser printer is a nondescript, square-shape, putty-colour laser printer that occupies very little desk space. Measuring 38 by 38 by 25cm, (W, D, H), the 10.5kg Brother HL-5140 will squeeze into even the most crowded work area without attracting attention.

Starting at the top, the Brother HL-5140 personal laser printer features a 150-sheet output tray and a control panel, which consists of four lights and two plastic buttons. The lights indicate the toner, drum, and paper status. The two buttons are Job Cancel, for stopping a print job, and Go, for awakening the printer from sleep or for continuing a print job following a paper jam or another error. We like the ease of use provided by the Brother HL-5140's control panel.

The middle of the printer is home to the toner cartridge, which rests underneath the output bin and just inside the front panel. An alternative-media feed-tray door has been built into the front panel as well. Envelopes, heavy bond paper, and the like can be fed straight through the printer without bending. This seems like the best approach, as we've not seen as many paper jams with Brother products as we have with other vendors' products.

The Brother HL-5140's bottom layer is the 250-sheet main paper tray. You can add a 250-sheet paper tray for around AU$250, a price that significantly increases the cost of the printer.

The Brother HL-5140 ships with 16MB of memory onboard and the ability to add more, up to 144MB maximum. While Brother doesn't sell memory, SD-RAM for the HL-5140 is available from third-party vendors in sizes ranging from 16MB to 128MB. A quick Web search revealed prices ranging from US$21 to US$43 for a 32MB module and from US$51 to US$86 for a 128MB module. Standalone users will not need to upgrade, but those running a small network will require the addition to handle larger print jobs.

Networking options for the Brother HL-5140 include the Brother NC-2100p 10/100 Base T external Ethernet print server or the NC-2200w 802.11b wireless print server, both available from Brother. The NC-2100p costs AU$299.99, but pricing and local availability for the NC-2200w has yet to be determined.

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It's an easy process to set up the Brother HL-5140, from loading the software and drivers to installing the print drum and the toner. The printed quick-setup guide and additional software-based help options are available should you experience difficulties during the setup process or afterward while printing.

In CNET Labs' tests, the Brother HL-5140 proved itself a very fast laser printer with uneven print quality. At 16.5 pages per minute (ppm) monochrome, the Brother HL-5140 is faster than its predecessor, the Brother HL-5040, at 13.5ppm. It's also quicker than more-expensive laser printers, such as the Lexmark E321, which clocked in at 15.1ppm, and much faster than the Dell P1500 at 12.9ppm. The Brother HL-5140 also printed our mixed text and graphics document at 16ppm, twice the Dell P1500's rate of 8ppm.

However, the Brother HL-5140 displayed mixed results in CNET Labs' quality tests. We saw flawless text, with easy-to-read and well-outlined characters even down into 2-point font sizes, in both plain text and italics. Had the text been a bit darker, it would have been rated excellent instead of very good.

In our graphics test, however, the Brother HL-5140 scored only fair. The printer introduced flaws such as horizontal and vertical banding in the gradients. It also wrongly reproduced deep shadows in the photographic part of our test document.

Editor's note: Not all models displayed may be available in the Australian market, and are included for comparative purposes only.

Laser printer speed
Pages per minute; longer bars indicate better performance
Brother HL-5140
Lexmark E321
Brother HL-5040
Dell P1500

Laser printer quality
Poor   ••Fair   •••Good   ••••Excellent
 Printer Text Graphics
 Dell P1500 ••• ••
 Brother HL-5040 ••• ••
 Brother HL-5140 ••• ••
 Lexmark E321 •• ••

Brother HL-5140
Company: Brother Australia
Price: AU$549
Distributor: Selected resellers
Phone: 02 9887 4344