Small Laser Update

Everything you need to choose the right printer

Small Laser Update

The electronic chip supply shortage of 2021 has affected printer supply and pricing. The shortage is due to a combination of supply problems and increased demand due to COVID-19 induced work-from-home and a number of other factors. The impact has affected other sectors as well – a new car shortage resulting in significant increases in the price of used cards and the relative disappearance of low-end laptops. On the other hand, web cams, which were in extremely short supply a year ago are now readily available at reasonable prices, and lumber prices are down around 20% from record highs and expected to continue to drop as supply increases to meet demand.

While some models are currently nearly impossible to find, if you focus on specifications you can still find decent machines, albeit at a premium over prices of a year ago. An analysis of all current HP and Brother monochrome laser printers (not All-in-One printer/scanner/copier) that include both USB and Ethernet connections and that do not rely on GDI for page rendering yields familiar looking results. Looking at low (100 pages/month) to medium usage (500 pages/month) and the all-important Total Cost of Ownership, our current recommendations are:
Brother HL-L2370DW XL

List price: $ 229.99, current Amazon price: $ 253.79, TCO 500 pages/month, 2 years: $ 369.78
Brother HL-L5100DN

List price: $ 179.99, current Amazon price: $ 271.79, TCO 500 pages/month, 2 years: $ 491.97
Brother HL-L6200DW

List price: $ 219.99, current Amazon price: $ 365.25, TCO 500 pages/month, 2 years: $ 491.74

All of these are currently priced higher than list price at Amazon and other retailers that have the printers in stock. Comparable HP models tend to have available prices closer to list prices. However, the long-term costs for Brother printers are typically lower than similar HP printers, especially at the low end. The HL-2370DW XL is a particularly interesting example: It includes 2 “full” toner cartridges instead of a single “starter” cartridge, and that makes a big difference in cost over the course of a year or two of moderate printing. The larger printers are generally better for heavy usage, but if this is a secondary printer, or if you expect your usage to average in the 500 page/month range (occasional extra printing is fine – the HL-L2370DW prints at 36 pages/minute!) then the smaller “personal size” HL-L2370DW XL is a great value.