BY TONY HOFFMAN
The Brother HL-L5100DN ($199.99) is a very capable mono laser printer for a micro or small office or a workgroup, and offers very good value for its price. It is lightning fast, prints high-quality text, is capable of heavy-duty printing, has good standard and optional paper capacity, and a low running cost. The HL-L5100DN$159.99 at Amazon lacks the Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi Direct found in its near-twin, the Editors’ Choice Brother HL-L5200DW$205.15 at Amazon, but is a top-choice in its own right.
Design and Features
Other than connectivity, the HL-L5100DN has the same feature set as the Brother HL-L5200DW. I discuss the features in detail in the latter printer’s review, linked above, but I’ll present an overview here. The HL-L5100DN measures 10 by 14.7 by 15.3 inches (HWD) and weighs 23.5 pounds. Standard paper capacity is 300 sheets, between a 250-sheet main tray and a 50-sheet multipurpose feeder. Optional trays are available, up to a maximum paper capacity of 1,340 sheets. An auto-duplexer for printing on both sides of a sheet of paper is standard. The maximum monthly duty cycle is 50,000 pages.
The HL-L5100DN connects to a PC via a USB cable, or to a network via Ethernet. It lacks Wi-Fi or WiFi Direct connectivity, although you could print to it via Wi-Fi provided that your network has a wireless access point.
I timed the Brother HL-L5100DN on our business applications suite (using QualityLogic’s hardware and software for timing) at 15 pages per minute (ppm), a good speed especially considering its 42ppm speed rating. (While rated speeds are based on text-only printing, our test suite includes text pages, graphics pages, and pages with mixed content). The Editors’ Choice Dell B2360dn$189.99 at Dell, rated at 40ppm, also turned in a 15ppm speed. It was effectively tied with the Brother HL-L5200DW, rated at 42 ppm, which tested at 15.3ppm, with just one second separating their total timings. It was faster than the Brother HL-L6200DW$178.88 at Amazon, which tested at 12.7ppm despite its 48ppm rated speed.
Overall output quality for the HL-L5100DN, based on our testing, was slightly above par, with above-average text, slightly subpar graphics, and average photos. Text should be good enough for any business purpose except for ones requiring tiny fonts.
Graphics are good enough for internal business use and perhaps for PowerPoint handouts, depending on how picky you are. It had trouble differentiating between similar shadings in one illustration, and couldn’t print one page that shows dark text against an even darker background. Photo quality, which I would categorize as newspaper quality, is typical of mono lasers, good enough for printing out images from Web pages or files.
The HL-L5100DN has the same running cost, based on Brother’s price and yield figures for toner and drum, of 1.8 cents per page, which is shared by both the Brother HL-L5200DW and HL-L6200DW. The Dell B2360dn’s running costs are a touch higher at 2 cents per page, while the Canon imageClass LBP151dw’s costs are higher yet, at 3.5 cents per page.
The Brother HL-L5100DN is a strong choice mono laser printer for up to heavy-duty printing in a small or micro office. Among its strengths are blazing speed, good output quality with above-par text, good standard and excellent optional paper capacity, and low running costs. The Editors’ Choice HL-L5200DW is the same printer but with Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi Direct added to the mix. If you don’t need to connect wirelessly, you can still get a highly capable mono laser for less money with the HL-L5100DN.