Brother's HL-5370DW monochrome laser printer may be slow, but it's an economical choice for home use or for a small workgroup.

The Brother HL-5370DW is inexpensive; it has lots of paper capacity and connectivity options, and it's easy to install and maintain. The HL-5370DW can accommodate USB, ethernet, wireless, and even old-time parallel connections.

The excellent documentation includes a network user's guide that describes different network types and details how to connect to each one to the Brother HL-5370DW.

Instructions for the Brother HL-5370DW are clearly written and thorough. The ethernet connection we tested worked perfectly. Brother provides printer drivers for Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems.

For paper handling the Brother HL-5370DW supplies an automatic duplexer; a 150-sheet output tray; two stacked, 250-sheet letter/legal trays; and a 50-sheet multipurpose tray for varied sizes and weights of media. Adding a third 250-sheet tray boosts the printer's input capacity to 800 sheets.

Still, the Brother HL-5370DW does have some design shortcomings: the multipurpose tray's plastic parts are flimsy, with paper guides that clatter when you push them in. Despite being oversize and colour-coded, the main trays' guides are awkward to move. We had to hunt for the extension release button - which lies flat against the bottom of the tray and isn't colour coded - in order to adjust the tray for legal-size paper.

One of the few things the Brother HL-5370DW lacks is speed. Brother claims a top engine speed of 30 pages per minute, but in our tests it topped out at 26ppm for text and 5.8ppm for graphics - below average for a monochrome laser printer, and slightly slower than the comparably priced Xerox Phaser 3250DN (on text and graphics) and Ricoh Aficio SAP 3300DN (on text only).

The Brother HL-5370DW also took longer than most competing lasers to print photographs, line art, and pie charts. To its credit, the machine's graphics output looked nicer than average: though usually slightly grainy or overexposed, most such prints showed a smoothness and range of detail that is all too often lacking in monochrome lasers. It did a superior job of printing text, as people have come to expect of lasers.

The Brother HL-5370DW comes with a standard-yield, 3,000-page toner cartridge. With a replacement cartridge costs per page are higher than average. On the other hand, Brother's high-yield replacement cartridge lasts for 8,000 pages and reduces the costs. The user's guide clearly explains how to access the toner cartridge and unsnap it from the drum unit for replacement.


A few things about the Brother HL-5370DW - the slowness, the rattly components - feel cheap in the wrong way. But the printer's economy and versatility make it an excellent all-around choice for the price.