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9/10

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Brother HL-2070N

Personal laser printers continue to be a popular choice for those wanting simple, high-definition text and graphics printing. Brother's HL-2070N has a flexible range of connection options, an unusual desktop profile, and costs little over £100.

The printer has the same depth as a sheet of A4 paper and a similar width, but it's only 166mm high, which is a remarkably low-profile for even a mono laser printer. Brother has achieved this by slimming down the laser engine inside the machine, while keeping a good 250 sheet capacity to the front-loading paper tray.

Unlike many personal lasers, the paper tray doesn't stick out the back of the printer; what you see from the side of the printer is its true depth. Above the paper tray is a slot feed for specialist media and all pages feed to the sloping top surface of the machine. There's a flip-forward support, but with small documents you won't need to disturb the smooth lines of the machine by using it.

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There are four indicators, unusually on the left-hand side of the printer's top panel, and these indicate the end of toner and drum life, any paper jams and its power state. A single purple button is labelled Go, which variously clears errors, feeds paper, wakes the printer from sleep mode and cancels a current job – more of a Stop, really.

At the rear are three connections, for USB, parallel and Ethernet networking. It's unusual to find a network connection on a printer at this price point and in some ways hard to see why you would want to network a personal printer like this. One use, however, might be in a home environment, where you're sharing a network resource between parents’ and kids’ computers.

The drum and toner cartridge is a combined unit, which slots into the printer behind a fold-down cover at the top of its front panel. You lift a small purple lever to release the toner cartridge from the combined assembly. All very quick and easy.

Software installation is also easy if you're using USB, as long as you remember not to connect the printer until told to by the setup routine. Although there are several utilities installed during setup, none of them is an application as such. There are tools such as diagnostics, printer info, a web update for firmware and an uninstall routine, but these are all rather specialist tools.

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