Brother DCP-L3510cdw full review
Colour laser printers are a revelation if you’re coming from an inkjet printer. Reliable print quality, speed and the fact that prints emerge completely dry are three reasons you’ll probably never go back.
These days they’re relatively affordable, though not nearly as cheap to buy as a multi-function inkjet. You’ll also be disappointed if you need to print photos or - in the DCP-L3510cdw’s case – require precise colour accuracy, but as long as these two things aren’t dealbreakers, a colour laser is a wise choice.
I say laser, but this is actually an LED printer which uses an array of LEDs to create the image to print instead of scanning laser. Since the two technologies are so similar, and because it’s confusing, even Brother calls them LED laser printers.
The DCP-L3510cdw is an entry-level model, with one clue as to its position in the range being the 2-line matrix LCD display rather than the colour screen you’ll find on more expensive models. There’s no auto document feeder either, which is a shame as it makes it very annoying and time-consuming to scan multiple pages – especially if they’re double-sided.
But, it can print on both sides of the paper which saves money and also trees, which is certainly a bonus.
Naturally, there’s Wi-Fi alongside a USB port, and support for AirPrint so you can print easily from an iPhone or iPad. The same is true if you have an Android phone, and if yours doesn’t detect the L3510cdw automatically you can install Brother’s app and use that.
It’s a big unit weighing over 21kg and measuring 589 x 523 x 521 mm, so isn’t going to tuck away like an inkjet. But it is shipped with toner cartridges that should print about 1000 pages before you need to look at replacing them. Like most modern printers, you’re not in control of when to replace cartridges, so even if print quality looks fine, printing will cease until you install whichever one has ‘run out’.
The paper tray will take 250 sheets and there’s also the option to feed in sheets manually, and both tray and manual feed will take media up to 163g/m2.
Installing the DCP-L3510cdw proved a painful experience on a Windows laptop. The initial download from Brother’s website was 440MB, and in total almost 1GB had to be downloaded to get the drivers and utilities installed.
The whole process to much too long, and the resulting iPrint & scan software was hardly worth the wait. You’ll probably use it mainly for scanning, since there’s no option to scan to USB.
Picking how you want to connect the printer is part of the installation and configuring Wi-Fi is much easier here than attempting to use the printer’s LCD screen and up/down buttons to enter a password.
Several times during testing I found the green Wi-Fi light flashing away to indicate it wasn’t connected, despite a perfectly adequate Wi-Fi signal in the room.
With a quoted speed of up to 18 pages per minute (ppm), the L3510cdw is no speed demon. But even at the 16ppm that it managed in testing, it’s quick enough for most home offices, where documents tend to be just a few pages long.
If those document have colour in them, speed drops to around 15ppm, and if you print on both sides, then expect 6-7ppm.
On occasion, though, such as when printing a colour chart from an iPad, there was an inexplicable delay of several minutes while the LCD screen simply showed “Receiving data”. Whether another Wi-Fi issue or something else proved impossible to establish. Basic text documents printed from mobile devices emerged as quickly as if you’d printed them from a laptop.
The scanner does a great job, and only takes a couple of seconds to scan an A4 sheet at 200dpi. If you need higher resolution wait times at a little longer, but even at 200dpi, quality is more than usable. The hinges extend to accommodate textbooks and other thick media.
Order yourself a set of genuine Brother TN243 toners and your bank balance will be £140 lower (they’re not available under this part number in the US and neither is the printer itself).
Compatible sets cost around £60, but I didn’t test any to verify that the printer would accept them.
With the official toners, each mono page works out at bang-on 4p and colour pages at 10p, so this is certainly far from the cheapest laser running costs. In my experience, compatible cartridges don’t print the number of pages they claim, but even so, they’ll still work out cheaper.
Price & availability
However, through Brother’s new(ish) EcoPro subscription scheme you can get the printer for only £1.20. Then, if you go for a 12-month subscription, it’s £29.99 per month with a maximum of 6,000 pages (six sets of toner).
Sign up for two years and the price drops to £25 per month, with enough toner for a total of 12,000 pages.
Considering how much a set of genuine toner costs, this is very good value indeed.
As long as you don’t need the ultimate in print quality and just need a printer that will easily handle the demands of a home office, printing a mix of mono and colour documents for both work and schoolwork, the DCP-L3510dcw will fit the bill. If you like the idea, but need to scan multi-page documents regularly, go for a model higher in the range with an ADF, such as the L3550cdw.
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