The £99 Brother HL-2140 mono-laser printer is pitched almost to perfection.

In the rush for full technicolour, mono printers have fallen rather far from grace. However, if you're on a budget, there are plenty of excellent reasons for resisting the high-cost allure of a full colour laser. For a start, to get one of the latter with photo quality that comes anywhere near to that of a decent £100 (or even £60) inkjet, you're going to have to spend hundreds.

Even this month's Oki C5750n (which approaches the £600 price mark) lacks total accuracy for colour printing. Inkjets, on the other hand, are frequently poor for serious text work. They're slow, consumables are expensive, and the output is often less than crisp.

That's why the £99 Brother HL-2140 is pitched almost to perfection. It's a full mono laser printer. But it's sufficiently cheap that you can run it alongside a quality inkjet for the best of both worlds. Indeed, if what you mainly print out is text work anyway, this'll again prove a good solution. But what do you really lose out on?

Well, while we wouldn't class the Brother HL-2140 as the prettiest of mono lasers, it does have a certain rugged charm. It lacks the flash of the latest HP inkjets, but we suspect you won't be breaking this printer in a jiffy.

And in keeping with Brother's drive for greater ease of use, the Brother HL-2140 is a cinch to set up. Because the consumables are front-mounted, it's easy to change the cartridges.

Quality is actually surprisingly good. You wouldn't want to use the Brother HL-2140 for any kind of serious graphical work – it's fine for printing out street maps and other such drawings, but photos are a definite no-no.

NEXT PAGE: text output, running costs > >