home printer that won't make me want to smash it with a sledgehammer?
June 1, 2022 7:36 AM   Subscribe

We need a home printer for occasional use--I've hated every printer I've ever owned. Willing to pay extra to avoid mandatory manufacturer apps and proprietary ink lock-in.

We've had inkjets over the years and they are always a pain in the ass. I think I'd prefer a laser printer, not sure. Wireless printing is mandatory, we have windows and mac laptops, tablets, phones, and don't want to put the printer near our router (but we have a wifi extender with an ethernet outlet we could use if it makes things much simpler).

Built in scanner would be nice but not necessary. Black and white only is fine, color would be nice if it doesn't dramatically increase price. Don't want to be locked-in to HP or any other company's system. With all these variables, I'm not even sure where to start looking. Would spend up to $500 if I thought I could stop thinking about my printer for five years.
posted by skewed to Technology (37 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Our Brother DCP-L2550DW black & white laser printer has worked flawlessly with nary a hiccup for a couple of years. It's not as small on the table as I'd like but it's totally reliable both wired and wireless. I guess we use it a couple of times a week. The only downside is that its scanner doesn't do double-sided scans.
posted by anadem at 7:45 AM on June 1 [15 favorites]

I own this Lexmark MC3224dwe and love it.

Bought it at the start of the pandemic and we used it quite a bit for school and work and just replaced the toner cartridges (black and c/m/y) on it late last year. We use it on Windows and Chrome OS and a few Android devices. There is a firmware update it will probably need out of the box but that's relatively easy and painless.
posted by deezil at 7:47 AM on June 1

I am a fan of Brother's laser printer, have used them for years without issues.
posted by tman99 at 7:50 AM on June 1 [14 favorites]

I bought a Brother HL5450DN (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008CJ1MTE, but note that the price is nonsense-- it is no longer being sold) 9 years ago and it's still going strong. It doesn't get extensive use, but it gets some use and it's always been great.

I think I just replaced the toner FOR THE FIRST TIME last week.

It does not have WiFi, and so it is directly connected to my network, but surely newer ones do not have that restriction.

This looks like a newer version:

It's... just great.
posted by gregvr at 7:50 AM on June 1 [6 favorites]

I've been very happy with this Brother last printer. I just changed the toner for the first time, and it was pretty painless. I would not go back to an inkjet.
posted by FencingGal at 7:51 AM on June 1 [5 favorites]

You need a laser printer. Not a Canon (they pull inkjet like stunts). I haven't had a Brother but they're cheap and nobody seems to chime in to hate them
posted by wotsac at 7:55 AM on June 1 [1 favorite]

I have a Dell Laser-printer. It was only like $80 and we got it at least 5 years ago. Airprint works great. We looked at Brothers too, but it was like $10 more expensive at the time. The ink lasts forever, is really cheap, and supports a number of different brands. B&W only.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:01 AM on June 1

I think my Brother laser printer is 15+ years old? Works like a champ. You wouldn't want it, as it doesn't network, but I should think any modern Brother printer would.
posted by humbug at 8:04 AM on June 1 [1 favorite]

Ooh, I'm on the Brother train too. We have a lower end model, don't use it a super lot, and it's been working like a champ for 5+ years. The toner seems to last forever.
posted by BlahLaLa at 8:05 AM on June 1 [4 favorites]

I have the same printer as anadem recommends in the first post and it has never been a problem for me, though it isn't fast -- particularly to receive and process the data, not the actual printing. When I print really long documents -- like 100+ page law school summaries -- I take them to Staples, but for my more normal printing of a few pages at a time, its fine and it doesn't have the problem ink jets do with the ink drying up.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:07 AM on June 1

My Brother laser printer HL-2270DW is ~10 years old, I used the original trial-size ink and drum for about 2 years before needing to replace the toner (which I did with the biggest one), and I just ran low on toner two weeks ago. I bought a new drum/fuser first before the ink alert became official because I could tell something was up, so I guess I'll probably go ahead and replace it as we're moving soon.

Mine is so old I think it can only use our 2.4ghz network, but we have a meshing router so it's fine.

So whatever today's version of the Brother laser is, that's your printer.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:09 AM on June 1 [4 favorites]

I have a Brother HL-L2325DW, which has been fantastic (I think if you search on Metafilter for that part number, you'll find lots of recommendations for it). It meets all your criteria except it doesn't have a scanner. It actually costs less now than when I bought it five years ago. You can get a two-pack of generic toner cartridges for it for way cheaper than a single brother one.
posted by jonathanhughes at 8:09 AM on June 1 [5 favorites]

Brother MFC3770CDW laser printer person here. Had an earlier one go bad, eventually after great expense of replacing freakin' everything on it I decided that off-brand toner had sent it over the edge, so I got a new one and only use Brother toner in it. So, yeah, it's possibly more expensive than it could be, but way cheaper per page than an inkjet, and it works.

I like the sheet fed scanning (I set up the scan via FTP to an in-house server so it's super easy for any of us in the house to use, even though we're a very mixed computing environment). I think it's got an Ethernet option, but I've got it set up with WiFi. It just works with Linux and Windows, isn't too bad with Mac.

When I need to print photos I go to the local CVS.
posted by straw at 8:20 AM on June 1 [2 favorites]

Another Brother laser user here (b/w with scanner/copier). It's been flawless in the several years we've had it; unlike inkjets it is perfectly happy to sit for weeks between print jobs and there's nothing to clog/dry up.

I will never own another inkjet.
posted by sriracha at 8:30 AM on June 1 [5 favorites]

So - I have several small businesses - and the absolute best printer I have ever purchased was a Brother MFC-L8900CDW. It is too huge for most homes. (I got it for $300 off on a sale, so it was too good a deal to say "no")

However - the reason I purchased it, was after being burned by a consumer-level HP colour laser w/scanner/etc, the first time I had to get toner cartridges, the 4 of them cost as much as the original printer.

Brother does not have the lock-in that HP and Canon have - you can find aftermarket carts, you can send your carts away to be refilled.

Next problem with the HP, was driver-support - they had limited range of supported operating systems. At the time (and AFAIK), Brother's drivers support 10x more than Canon/HP, including legacy/dead operating systems.

If I hadn't gone with Brother, it would have been a business-class Xerox Phaser "solid ink" device, however... I just found out last month that those have been "phased-out" and are no longer available
posted by rozcakj at 8:35 AM on June 1

I can recommend a Brother HL-L8350CDW color laser. It was relatively inexpensive then ($280) and it has been dependable for the last seven years. It uses wifi to connect to my network. The paper tray is small but I haven't yet had to replace the toner cartridge.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 8:36 AM on June 1 [1 favorite]

Ditto on a brother laser printer, get the scanner built in if you need it. It seamlessly takes knockoff laser cartridges that last forever and are dirt cheap. prints come out fast and clean. I know that the work-from-home made it difficult to even buy a decent printer or was over priced, Im not sure if the printer supply has become more available and prices leveled off yet.
posted by edman at 8:49 AM on June 1 [1 favorite]

Brother laser lover here. Mine is the 2395DW. I use third party toner cartridges from amazon with no issues.
posted by kathrynm at 8:50 AM on June 1 [2 favorites]

I'll echo the agreement on Brother printers. I have a Brother inkjet and while one of the colors is pretty well clogged, the B&W is working great after many years. Will probably buy a Brother laser MFC after this one craps out eventually.
posted by kschang at 8:58 AM on June 1 [1 favorite]

Get a Brother laser printer.

I have worked in IT for decades, includes years in pre-press (around super-specialized output devices), and I suggest a Brother laser printer to every home user who asks.

It's no LaserJet 5si, but what in these dark days is?! Brother makes inexpensive, non-fussy printers.

I wish I had bought one with a duplexer but that's really my only complaint.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:00 AM on June 1 [9 favorites]

Brother HL-L6250DW Laser. It is the double-sided high-capacity "business" model where the paper tray fits an entire ream, and the toner lasts 12,000 pages. It looks pretty much like the "consumer" model and doesn't cost a whole lot more. I'd happily pay an extra $50 now, rather than $100 in toner every year. Mine was from CDW.
posted by dum spiro spero at 9:02 AM on June 1 [4 favorites]

I print so seldom that ink dries up in any printer, and the printer doesn't justify the desk space. I print at the library or at Staples. I like visiting the library, it's .10/page, and Not My Problem if it jams.
posted by theora55 at 9:10 AM on June 1 [1 favorite]

I have a Brother HL-2370DW that I purchased after seeing it among the recommendations here. I bought a 4-pack of generic toner from Amazon for a whole $40, and after finishing the sample that came with the printer, I'm still on the first one.

It's fantastic. I wish I'd jumped on the laser train SO much sooner. I no longer worry whatsoever about how much I print. The only thing I *thought* was a complaint was how it handled cardstock... until I realized I was loading it right, but not allowing it exit correctly. Totally my fault for not reading the entire directions.

My only regret is that I now REALLY want a color one, and can't figure out if I can tolerate the space needed for two printers.

*** Prior to this, Canon inkjets were my favorites. I won't go back. It's cheaper and quicker and better quality to have photos printed... and I can pick them up in an hour with less hassle. So the cost savings, for the type of things I want to print in color, and the longevity of toner, make the case for an inexpensive color laser printer a no-brainer.
posted by stormyteal at 9:10 AM on June 1 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Okay, okay, I'll get a Brother laser printer already!

Seriously though, thanks for the help everybody! Just put in an order for one of the Brother models with wifi and scanner.
posted by skewed at 9:32 AM on June 1 [16 favorites]

I print so seldom that ink dries up in any printer

Note that Laser printers don't have ink. The Toner cartridge contains a dry powder. I don't live someplace with high humidity but I'm still using the toner cartridge I bought for my HP P1005 like ten years ago. Worse case one needs to take the cartridge out and give it a shake and then slide it back in.
posted by Mitheral at 11:16 AM on June 1 [7 favorites]

On the subject of color laser printers, I would personally avoid them if you can as they basically add 3 more print assemblies for CMY in addition to the black assembly, which gives you 4x the consumables and 4x the opportunity for failures to crop up. My parents had a color Brother laser printer (don't recall which model) and it started having issues after something like 5 years and replacing the trouble parts would've cost more than the printer did. Still better than inkjet but if you don't need color, you'll likely be happier with the reliability of a b/w machine.
posted by Aleyn at 12:09 PM on June 1 [1 favorite]

Just nthing the Brother laser printer. I got one maybe 5 years ago after being fed up with all the HP inkjet cartridge/proprietary software crap. The printer I have is b/w.
posted by litera scripta manet at 12:21 PM on June 1 [1 favorite]

I've also got the Brother 2550, and it just works.
posted by COD at 3:01 PM on June 1 [1 favorite]

Nth Brother
posted by Raybun at 4:16 PM on June 1 [1 favorite]

Brother HL-L2350DW here!
posted by jgirl at 4:40 PM on June 1 [1 favorite]

4x the consumables

Well, 2x the consumables: there are two toner cartridges, one for B+W and the other for color.

In most printing situations, it doesn't make sense to print to color, and the print dialog box can be set to default to B+W printing, so that you don't use up the color toner unless you choose to, based on what you're printing.

Selecting B+W as the default should gives better result for print output, in most cases, since it is a waste to use color toner to simulate or approximate black.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 5:36 PM on June 1 [1 favorite]

Just as a counterpoint to the laser love, I frequently print on heavy card stock for a hobby of mine. Every time I've ever printed with a laser printer (either from the shop on the corner or at a friends house) the ink invariably flakes off and looks like crap. Even a cheap ink jet looks lush and the ink stays put.
posted by Carlo at 6:43 PM on June 1 [2 favorites]

Well, 2x the consumables: there are two toner cartridges, one for B+W and the other for color.

The model they had used a separate toner/drum assembly for each color, so 4x in that case, one for each of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. It was very similar to the one featured in this Technology Connections video, for reference. I'm not sure what sort of experience you have with color laser printers, but I don't know of any color laser printers that don't have at least 4 toner cartridges and 4 imaging drums.
posted by Aleyn at 10:53 PM on June 1

The one I have is an example, for instance, and since we're talking about Brother printers...
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 5:57 AM on June 2

Huh, I went through two brother laser printers fairly quickly - on the first one it had some catastrophic failure that even melted the plastic, for some reason, and it was deemed unfixable. The second one gunked up and stopped feeding pages correctly so I said enough with this and bought a more expensive Xerox. The Xerox has been my trusty companion ever since.
posted by anhedonic at 7:48 AM on June 7

100% agree with all the Brother recommendations here. We've had a Brother HL-2280DW for years, and it's the only printer I've had that not only stays on the network, but works every time I need it for years. The toner cartridge lasts far longer than the toner alert indicates, which is nice. (My only issue with it is the scanner seems to have issues with idling out on macOS if you're scanning a bunch of papers but taking a long time in between. Power cycling the printer is a quick fix.)
posted by waxpancake at 12:09 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]

I have a Brother MFC-J985DW bought used 4 years ago and no issues since then.
The ink lasts forever and can be changed individually and good generic ink.
I use NAPS2 for scanning , I did install Brother ink monitor to check on the ink and that's about it
posted by radsqd at 7:58 AM on June 13

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