8 Best Buys for Essential Gear

Page 4 of 9


A versatile multifunction printer such as the Canon Pixma MX700 minimizes desk clutter by combining the capabilities of several devices into one package.

We decided, however, to focus here on the straight-ahead speed and professionalism of a color laser printer. Our pick in this category, currently leading our Top 10 Color Laser Printers chart, is the $400 Brother HL-4040CN, which delivers satisfying and speedy performance.

The printer itself is simple enough to set up, though at about 64 pounds it's heavier than many other models we've tested. At its default settings, the HL-4040CN printed competently.

Its speeds, average overall, ranged from 19.3 pages per minute for plain black text to 4.2 ppm for graphics. Text looked perfectly crisp in all tested fonts. Color images had a few shortcomings at default settings, but with the print driver's 'Fine (2400 dpi class)' setting, image quality improved noticeably.

The cost per page (based on Brother's specs) of this model is very appealing: A half-page print of black text uses less than 2 cents' worth of toner, and a color page (using a small amount of black plus all three colors) costs less than 12 cents.

Bottom Line: The Brother HL-4040CN color laser printer offers good pricing, speed, and print quality, but a somewhat awkward design.

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