We tried our main text print at 300dpi and with toner save applied, but this made little difference to the print speed. Toner save made little difference to the text print quality, too, which would be quite acceptable for most print jobs, better than many draft modes on other mono lasers.
In normal print mode the quality is more than reasonable, with crisp, well-defined black text, right down to small font sizes. Greyscales reproduced from colour originals printed cleanly and with very little banding, producing clear, sharp business graphics and well-executed page rules.
Even our test photographs came through well, with little noticeable banding and some detail in shadows. The dot pattern is surprisingly noticeable though, even when using the printer's top quality mode of 2,400dpi by 600dpi. The straight 600dpi print mode comes out nearly as well, but there's little print speed advantage to using the lower resolution.
The HL-2140 is a brand-new printer for Brother and not currently available on the Internet. It also uses new drum and toner units, which are not yet quoted through the usual discount sources. The toner units are rated at 1,500 pages for standard capacity and 2,600 pages for high-capacity, with a drum which should last 12,000 pages. In a typical home or small office environment, these capacities are reasonable and maintenance costs will be relatively low.
Because of the exclusive nature of this early review, we've used Brother's own figures for printer cost and the suggested retail prices for drum and toner. We would expect these figures to drop, once the parts become readily available. Just as well, as we calculate the cost per ISO black page to be 3.14p; a bit high, even for a printer at this entry-level price.
This is a well-designed, smart, personal, mono laser printer, which does most of the things you could want of a one-per-desk machine. If we were picky, we'd like a multi-purpose tray that can take more than one sheet at a time, and a toner cartridge with at least the same capacity as the standard-yield consumable available as a spare.
Running costs are high using the manufacturers' SRPs, but hardly anyone ever pays these rates and we would expect to see a noticeable reduction when the printer is launched, early in January, 2008.