- Max 800-page paper capacity
- Sub 2p per page print cost
- Fast start up and first page out
- Stripy photo prints
- No wireless connection
- Noisy when printing
- Review Price: £187.00
- Fast, 38ppm speed claim
- Separate drum and toner cartridges
- Duplex print as standard
- Legacy parallel port
- Very high yield, 12,000 page toner
The main governing factor in the price of a mono laser printer is its speed, so to find a machine like the Brother HL-5440D, which is specced at 34ppm, for under £200 is unusual. Aimed at small businesses who have no need for wireless connection, but want low running costs, the Brother HL-5440D is an evolution of the company’s earlier desktop lasers.
Brother HL-5440D Design
A squashed cube, with rounded vertical edges, the Brother HL-5440D printer looks very functional and businesslike. The simple control panel is a column of LEDs for toner, drum, paper, back cover and general errors, with two lozenge-shaped buttons coloured green and pink to start and stop print jobs.
The output tray is a recess in the printer’s top cover and the feed tray, with a capacity of 250 sheets, pulls out from the bottom of the front panel. Above that is a pull-down cover, which forms a 50-sheet multipurpose tray. It has a slide out and flip over support, so you can load special media up to A4 in size. You can add up to two extra 250 sheet-trays, for a total paper capacity of 800 sheets.
At the back is a ubiquitous USB socket and a legacy parallel one, but there’s no wireless link, so no easy way to print from phones or tablets.
Brother HL-5440D Features
The Brother HL-5440D uses a two-part drum and toner cartridge, rated at different replacement frequencies. The two clip together and slide down into the centre of the machine, once you’ve pressed a button in front of the output tray and folded down the machine’s front third.
Toner cartridges are available in 3,000, 8,000 and 12,000-page capacities, while the drum is good for 30,000 pages. These are high yields for a machine at this price and, combined with the comparatively large paper capacity, imply low maintenance costs.
There’s very little in the way of support software, other than a pretty straightforward driver. This is available for Windows, OS X and Linux and the driver supports poster prints, multiple pages per sheet and A5 booklet printing, as well as watermarking with predefined or custom text.
Brother HL-5440D Performance
On paper, 38ppm sounds like a high speed for a mid-range mono laser that’s a little too good to be true, and so it proved to be. Despite it’s fast first page out time of under nine seconds, which we confirmed in our tests, our five page text document took 19 seconds, a speed of 15.8ppm. This was true of the same print in toner-save mode, too.
On the longer, 20-page test, the speed rose to 27.3ppm, still some way short of the headline figure. These kinds of discrepancy are usually down to manufacturers measuring speeds exclusive of any start-up time and purely page to page. We don’t think this type of measurement is fair, when in real life you have to wait for the printer to process the pages before starting to print. It’s all done to get bigger numbers on the box.
Duplex print is standard on the Brother HL-5440D and our 20-page document printed duplex took 1:13, a speed of 16.4ppm. This speed and the single sided results are all good for this class of machine and subjectively prints come through without much wait. The five-page text and graphics print was marginally quicker than the text only test and a 15 x 10cm photo on A4 took 16 seconds.
The prints we saw from the machine were good in parts. Text print, from the default 600dpi engine is crisp and densely black even at small point sizes – 1200dpi is available as a maximum, but has to be selected. Greyscale fills for business graphics are smooth, with a fair range of different shades to represent colours in an original.
Where the printer falls down, at least in this sample, was in reproducing photographic images. By default, a lot of the darker shades turned black, removing a lot of shadow detail and areas of lighter greys, such as in skies, were noticeably banded. OK, you don’t buy a mono laser printer to print photos, but we have seen much better attempts than those produced here.
Using the highest capacity toner cartridge and adding in the cost of the drum gives a cost per page of 1.97p. This is very good for a printer which itself costs less than £200.
Brother HL-5440D Verdict
The Brother HL-5440D is a good, down-to-earth, mono laser printer which does pretty much what it says on the box. It’s not as fast as Brother thinks, but still has a good turn of speed. The print quality is good for text, but mediocre for some greyscale fills, particularly in photos. Duplex print is a cost saver, but the main one is the low cost of drum and toner, making this a very economical machine to run.
Score in detail
Print Speed 9
Print Quality 7
|Connection Type||Parallel, USB|
|Extra Features||Duplex, toner save|
|Number of Catridges||1|
|Sheet Capacity||250 sheets + 50 sheet feed|
|Print Resolution (Dots per inch)||1200 x 1200dpi|
|Rated Black Speed (Images per minute)||38ipm|
|Rated Colour Speed (Images per minute)||N/Aipm|
|Max Paper Weight||163g/sm|
|Print Without PC||No|
|Scan Resolution (Dots per inch)||N/Adpi|