Brother calls its HL-2280DW is a monochrome laser printer with "convenience copying and color scanning capabilities," though manufacturers of a handful of similarly configured models call the units multifunction printers.

In all such models, the scanner collects colour information but can't print in colour except on a colour printer. Whatever it is, it sells for a low price, meaning that a small office might be able to tolerate its above average toner costs, especially after factoring in its useful additional features.

The HL-2280DW supports USB, ethernet, and wireless connectivity. The simple control panel includes a two line, 16 character monochrome LCD and a handful of labelled buttons. The CD-based installation is well documented and progresses very smoothly.

Paper handling includes automatic duplexing (two-sided printing), a somewhat bendy 250-sheet input tray and a front manual feed slot, discreetly hidden behind a shiny logo panel. The 100 sheet input tray lurks in a small, dark hole beneath the scanner unit. The letter/A4-size colour scanner has a telescoping lid. You can scan to your PC or copy with the usual assortment of scaling and layout features. A Duplex button on the front control panel walks you through two-sided copying via LCD prompts.

You flip open a front panel to reach the printer's consumables. The toner and drum components are separable, but you must remove them together, using a handle that would be easier to find if it were a colour other than black. A green (thank you) lever releases the toner from the drum. As the drum lasts a lot longer than the toner cartridges do, having to drag out the drum every time you want to replace the toner is somewhat annoying.

Toner costs are on the expensive side. The HL-2280DW ships with a 700 page starter cartridge of black toner. The standard size replacement costs $38 and lasts for 1200 pages, which works out to a high 3.2 cents per page. High yield black toner cartridges cost $55 each and last for 2600 pages, for a higher than average 2.1 cents per page. The $81 drum unit, when replaced after about 12,000 pages of use, will add less than a penny to each of the next 12,000 pages.

On the other hand, the similarly priced, printer-only HP LaserJet Pro P1606dn, though faster, has an even higher cost per page and doesn't throw in a scanner as a consolation prize. Whether you consider it an MFP or not, the Brother HL-2280DW is a better deal if its slower print speeds don't bother you.

OUR VERDICT

The HL-2280DW performed adequately in our tests. Connected to a PC, it printed monochrome pages that consisted primarily of text at a sub-par rate of 15.6 pages per minute, and a small simple photo at a middling 4.9 ppm. Mac speeds were about the same: 15.4 ppm for monochrome text, and an above average 8.2 ppm for four pages of mixed text and graphics in PDF format. Graphics quality was slightly rough and grainy, but acceptable.