Which laser printer is better: HP or Brother?

Quality laser printers are a necessity for home offices and businesses for managing your documents and printing needs.

Brother and HP are two of the more popular laser printer brands, and it helps to compare models and features if you’re looking into purchasing a laser printer. While both create a range of printers to fit all of your needs, the debate has evolved to a preference between saving time or money.

The need for a home/office printer has increased as more of us are working or schooling from home. You could be a parent who needs to print out workbooks for your child. Or you may find that it’s easier to make notes on a business report using a pen or pencil rather than a keyboard. Or you’ve suddenly discovered that a government office is demanding that you snail mail a form to them. Or your local office supply store, which you normally use for printing out occasional forms, is either still closed or not a comfortable place to visit.

When considering printers, HP is undoubtedly the biggest and most popular printer brands, battling out with Canon as the biggest brand within printing for the last few years. In spite of this, Brother still holds its own and are also one of the bigger brands within the industry, though not quite as big as HP.

But knowing this, can one brand be claimed as ‘better’ than the other, or are there characteristics of each brand that may make them a better choice for some? Well, we’ll look at both of the brands and see which of them would make a good choice for the majority of people and which brand produces the best low cost yet high-quality printer.

Whatever the reason, if you find yourself in need of a printer, it’s not difficult to find one. Printers have not changed a lot over the past few years; they’ve just become more efficient and less expensive. You still will be choosing between laser and inkjet printers; colour and black-ink-only printers; and print-only and multifunction devices. Because of all these decisions that need to be made, it’s a good idea to figure out what you want before you click “Buy” at your favourite shopping site.

business office photocopiers

No two laser printers are the same. It’s a known fact that some are more powerful than others while some are built to handle smaller volumes. Not to mention the obvious question of, should you get a monochrome or colour laser printer? So how do you choose the right one for your printing needs?

 

HP vs Brother – Best Laser Printer

If we’re comparing HP to Brother, the consensus is that HP provides a better quality printer. However, you are going to pay the price for this, as HP products as a whole are very expensive. You will probably be able to get a Brother printer of the same specifications from Brother for a lower price.

This does depend on whether you’re looking for a home printer or an office printer – when we’re considering laser printers, most of the time we’re talking about an office printer. This is because laser printers tend to be more expensive to purchase. However, they have a lower cost per page in the long term. If we’re considering laser printers, then Brother is going to be a lot closer to HP, particularly because of their great customer service. So, let’s take a look at a little bit of each brands history, then delve deeper into any differences between the brands.

 

Brand History

HP is the biggest computing brand in the world, and it was for a long time. Lenovo briefly overtook HP as the biggest brand in the world between 2013-2017 (although they’re still wasn’t a lot in it), but now they’re back as having the biggest portion of the computer market.

Born at the start of the second world war, HP (standing for Hewlett Packard) started from humble beginnings and have gone on to become one of the biggest names within its industry. Both founders have interesting stories, with Packard joining the Nixon administration and Hewlett serving in the army taking time away from the company to perform these duties.

Like most big brands, HP is known for having pretty awful customer service. Whilst the brand started from grassroots, now it’s known as one of the behemoths, and unfortunately, poor customer service seems to come part and parcel with expansion for many brands. However the products themselves tend to be pretty good in terms of quality, so that doesn’t mean that you should discount them completely.

Fun fact: One of the most common misconceptions about HP is that they are the same as the brand Packard Bell. HP (standing for Hewlett Packard, the two founders) aren’t related, and the fact that HP founder David Packard and Packard Bell founder Leon Packard bear the same name is just complete coincidence.

Although it might not sound like it, Brother is a Japanese company that is much older than HP, originating before the first world war back in 1908. Whilst it was best known for its sewing machines originally, nowadays it’s better known for its printers and other electronic goods. Brother launched in Europe in the 50s, and by 1987 they had released their first laser printer like many other big brands at the time.

In terms of customer service, they have a fairly good reputation on this front (better than HP at least). Whilst their customer service isn’t on par with some bigger brands, it’s certainly not bad, and more often than not, you’re going to find a resolution to your issue.

 

HP Laserjet Pro M281fdw – Best Laser Printer

The HP Laserjet pro is a great all in one printer if you have a decent budget. Like the rest of the Laserjet Pro series, it’s a good choice if you’re looking for something that can do pretty much everything.

One of the main reasons that HP is a good choice, especially for those looking for something really easy to use, is that it has an easy to use HP app. This allows you not just to use the printer easily with Airprint, but you can also use it easily with other features on your computer. If you’re like me and use an iPhone but also use other things like Dropbox and Google Drive, then you’ll want this kind of ease of use within a printer.

I also have an Amazon Alexa at home. And guess what? The M281fdw is easy to integrate with your Amazon Echo or Dot as well. So this means that if you’re looking for something that you can use with voice activate, then it’s a good idea to look at this model. It has a decent printing rate (22PPM), so if you’re used to using older printers, then this is going to be a big step up.

The only problem that I can see with this model is that it’s going to be particularly expensive for some people. If you’re looking for a budget printer, this probably isn’t the best option for you to choose.

 

Brother MFC L2700DW

The Brother MFCL2700DW offers similar usability and features to the HP Laserjet, but it’s considerably more budget-friendly. If you’re trying to save some cash, then this might prove to be a good choice.

This isn’t a colour printer, so if you’re looking for something that specifically prints colour, then you’re going to have to look somewhere else for a good colour printer. But if you don’t necessarily need colour and you’re just looking to print files, then it’s a good idea to opt for a black and white printer. People underestimate how much you can save with a black and white printer, as they’re a lot cheaper for printing costs. If you need a printer with good scanning capabilities, then it might be worth considering the MFCL2700DW. It’s a really good option for anyone looking for something that has a good scanning resolution (600 x 2400 dpi).

The main thing that I hate about this Brother printer (and all printers in general) is that they have a chip in the side of the toner. When the toner runs low, you automatically have to replace it with another toner cartridge – even though it might not be fully empty. This is a bit ridiculous in my opinion, and if you hate paying companies extra money for nothing (I sure do), then this is something you’ll want to think about and check into. Aside from this, the printer itself is decent.

Types of Laser Printers

When looking for your next laser printer, part of the evaluation is determined on your needs. Laser printers are often defined by their dpi, or how many dots per inch they can produce, ranging from 300 to 2,400. Typically a higher dpi produces a better quality image. Laser printers are also differentiated by their ability to print photos and what type of networking they support. Laser printers listed as “all-in-one” let you scan, copy, print and fax from the same machine. Brother and HP create models that support all of these functions.

Where Brother Benefits

Brother printers tend to be a little more work but make up for it with long-run savings. Toner replacements for Brother models are typically cheaper than its competitors, including HP, but part of this comes from toner and drum replacements that are more complex. These need to be properly installed and are at more risk of damage than traditional cartridges, used by HP, but they can print more than 7,000 pages, reducing your replacement cost over time. Brother printers also have high printing speeds, but they take a few seconds to warm up and reach this max speed.

HP’s Speedy Goods

HP gets strong marks for quick printing and low-power use. The company routinely compares its models to Brother printers and shows how quickly it can come out of a standby mode and start printing. For example, HP LaserJet Pro 200 Color M251 can print four pages before comparable Brother models are done warming up. HP printers also have lower power consumption than most of their competitors, including Brother. HP also claims that Brother printers are prone to smudging because they don’t use regular replacement cartridges like HP printers.

Owner Comparisons

Noise, volume and service are big issues for managing your printer needs. PCWorld has created a large survey getting consumer reactions for these features, and HP and Brother have mixed scores. Based on owner opinions, Brothers are reliable throughout their lifecycle, while HP was typically viewed as worse than average for reliability. Neither scored very well for service, but Brother barely edged out HP in overall support and problem resolution. Brother owners are more satisfied in their choice as a whole, but models vary widely with supported features, so it’s best to read specific reviews about models you’re considering.

How to choose a laser printer

When it comes to picking any printer, the basics are the same. You are probably already aware that laser printing produces professional-looking text documents at a lower cost per page than similar inkjet models. But there are other features to consider.

All in one functions like scanning and copying are included in all of the models on the above list, but one less common function is fax capability. If you work with medical or legal documents, faxing is indispensable, and you’ll need a printer that includes it.

Print speed refers to how quickly a printer will complete a page in a document. In our reviews, we test this capability, measured in pages per minute. If you need to print frequently, or in high volumes, faster print speeds are worth paying for.

Print quality is another concern, though the majority of laser printers offer some of the best print quality you can get, with sharp and detailed letterforms that leave documents looking professional.

What you won’t get on most laser printers is colour and photo printing capability. While there are colour laser printers on the market, they do cost more. And among those, not every colour printer is well-suited to printing photos, and those that do require special photo paper specifically for laser printers.

Printing costs are an ongoing concern for any printer since even affordable toner refills have some associated expenses over time. Look for a lower cost per page in our product descriptions and reviews, and check out the individual reviews for a detailed discussion of how print costs might make one printer better than another.

printer
Side view portrait of businessman printing documents while working in office.

The Most Basic Laser Printer Features To Consider Are:

Monthly duty cycle

Printers are designed to carry a particular workload. When you match your expected print volume with a printer’s monthly capacity, you reduce the chances of unexpected breakdowns and repairs. Going beyond the technical expectations of a printer on a regular basis can lead to frequent breakdowns and a shorter lifespan for your unit. So before you decide on anything else, you need to determine how much you print every month.

To help consumers choose the right model, manufacturers will include the monthly duty cycle as part of their technical specifications. This easy-to-use metric allows you to pair up your needs directly with a unit that is designed to handle your workload and helps you avoid buying more printer power than you realistically need.

Speed (PPM)

Print speed, also known as PPM or pages per minute, can widely vary between different laser printer models. Most budget-friendly models will print at speeds between 25 and 50 pages per minute, which is more than adequate for most business purposes. High-end models can produce 100 pages per minute or more. The Brother® HL-S7000DN prints that fast, for example, which totals up to around 500 words per second. That means being able to produce the entire Bible, old and new testaments, in about 20 minutes according to Tech Radar®. Not everyone needs that level of output, though, and that type of speed might get expensive. Taking a good hard look at your print habits will help you assess how fast you need to print, as well as how much you need to spend to get that speed.

Cost Per Page

Cost per page is an important criterion to consider when shopping for an efficient laser printer as it defines how much you’re going to be spending on toner cartridges in the long run. What you want is a cost-efficient laser printer with a low cost per page. Toner cartridges come with different price tags and page yields. (Page yield is how many pages you can expect to print with one cartridge.) To determine a printer’s cost per page, you divide a printer’s page yield by the cost of the ink cartridge.

For example, the price of an original Canon® 137 black toner cartridge starts at $85.69* and its page yield is 2,400 pages. After some quick division, the cost is 3.5 cents per page. Calculating the cost per page for a colour cartridge is slightly more complex. First, you’ll calculate the cost per page for each cartridge, using the same formula mentioned previously. (Keep in mind, most cyan, magenta and yellow cartridges have the same page yield.) Then, add up the cost per page of all four cartridges (black, cyan, magenta and yellow). We’ll look at HP 508X cartridges as an example. The cost per page for the high yield black cartridge is 1.77 cents per page, and each colour cartridge is 3.23 cents per page. If we add up all four toner cartridges, we get 11.46, which would be our cost per page for colour prints in this case.

Both HP and Brother create high-quality printers, so you’re unlikely to be disappointed with whichever you choose. Brother printers can be a higher initial cost but may be cheaper in the long run if you consistently print large jobs. HP provides better ease-of-use and requires you to do less to keep your printer running, taking up less time. With similar feature sets the choice maybe about what’s more important to you, saving time with HP or saving money with Brother.

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