LED printers are inherently simpler than laser printers, so it’s hard to see why more companies haven’t switched technologies in order to save on manufacturing costs. Brother’s inexpensive HL-3040CN LED colour printer is intended as an entry-level machine and comes in at well under £200. It suits the SOHO market and would be just as at home printing school reports, as it would house particulars.
Partly due to the simpler mechanism, which uses strips of high-intensity LEDs to remove the charge on the photoconductor drums, rather than scanning laser beams, the printer has a lower profile than most.
The four cartridges slot in, one behind the other, under the printer’s lid and paper feeds from a 250-sheet tray or a single-sheet multi-purpose slot and ends up on the top of the machine. When printing multi-page documents, you need to raise the flip-up paper stop to prevent pages sliding off the front.
A small control panel sits as a strip across the front of the printer. There’s a single-line, 16-character LCD display that suffers from not having a backlight, but is readable under good overhead light if you turn down the contrast. A square of control buttons navigates the menu system and there are Go and Cancel buttons for basic job control.
More interesting is secure print. You can create a numeric PIN for any print job from within the driver and the job will be held in the printer until you enter that PIN, using the control square on the control panel. The only limit is the internal memory in the machine and you can have several jobs with different PINs held at once, though held jobs are lost when the printer’s switched off.
There's no front panel USB socket, but both USB 2.0 and Ethernet are provided at the back. The four drum and toner cartridges are fitted as integrated consumables, but the toner hoppers can be detached from the drums and have different service lives. They're very easy to replace.
This is a GDI printer, so it uses neither PostScript nor PCL printer languages. Drivers are provided for Windows, right up to Windows 7, and for OS X. Linux is also supported via separate, downloadable drivers.