Review : Brother HL-3140CW Color Laser Printer

It lacked a few things that would have made us fall in love with it, but it does what it does fairly well.

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Product Manufacturer: Brother

Price: $250

The Good

  • Reliably received print jobs even when Wi-Fi signal is weak
  • Compact and reasonably quiet
  • 19 pages per minute

The Bad

  • Manual two-sided printing process cumbersome and tedious
  • Brother-branded app hasn't been updated since 2010 and thus not very helpful
It's inevitable, at some point somebody needs a hardcopy of a document. Paper never runs out of battery charge, after all. Our Mom, just as an example, prints out recipes like most people eat corn chips. We've been throwing all of our print jobs at a Brother HL-3140CW laser printer for a while now, to see how it works out. We think it's a good model for home use or for light business use, but unfortunately, it lacked a few things that would have made us fall in love with it. What it does do, though, it does fairly well.

Firstly, getting the printer onto the wireless network was very simple. It involved a lot of pushing the up and down buttons, but the printer found the network and logged on without difficulty. Of course when we say that, we mean we had to move the printer around to get it somewhere it could pick up a reliable Wi-Fi signal. This is more a limitation of our Wi-Fi network and the room we wanted to the printer to be in, which is as far away from the router as it can possibly be in the home.

The printer specs indicate it should only be 16 seconds to first print, in our experience it was between that and 25. Again, though, that could be attributed to our home network. Ultimately, every print job we sent from a variety of sources spooled to the printer and came out just fine. At no point in our experience did a print job freeze, or get dropped.

The internal workings of the printer are all standard: access for inserting paper, slots to put the toner, and flaps for getting at possible paper jams. We have only experienced one paper jam so far, while we were trying to use the manual two-sided printing feature which we'll discuss a bit farther down. The unit utilizes Brother's TN-221 and TN-225 toner cartridges. A five-pack of replacement cartridges -- two black and the other three color -- costs either $78 (for third-party replacements) or $307 -- yes, more than the printer itself with cartridges costs -- for genuine Brother replacements, with prices checked on Amazon. We were somewhat disappointed to discover our local Costco doesn't carry these, but their stock of Brother products is limited anyway. so perhaps it is to be expected.

If you saw our Hands On for the kid's app Storest, then you've already seen the HL-3140CW's handywork. We used it to print out items while testing that app, and a few more we'll be reviewing shortly. In addition to adorable app-generated papercrafts and Mom's recipes, we also printed out several full page graphics and an entire PDF file consisting of a 400-page RPG ruleset with black and white artwork. Once a print job got going, the printer spat out pages at a good clip. The only downside was when we tried to print two-sided documents.

This model doesn't support automatic two-sided document printing. If the user wants to print on both sides of the page, they must stand at the printer. The printer pulls a piece of paper from the tray, prints on one side of it and spits it out, the user must then pick up that page and feed it through the manual tray for printing on the other side. While we think it's good there's an option for two-sided printing that isn't creating two files with either even or odd numbered pages, only to do two print jobs and hope for the best ... this solution is extremely tedious, particularly for a 400-page document like we had. Eventually we canceled the print and started over with one-sided pages only.

The print speed, according to the documentation, is 19 pages per minute regardless of color or black and white, and that's the performance we've been getting so far. Unless you count the two-sided situation, then it goes quite a bit longer due to the human factor. Regardless of how quickly the jobs printed, they came out quite nice. This unit is replacing an old Canon which, when it prints in color, the page comes out looking oddly shiny, and that doesn't happen with the HL-3140CW, which makes us happy.

Brother has its own app for iOS and Android, but we don't recommend bothering with it. We briefly tried to control the unit with the app, and it refused to find it on the network. Printing from our phones, tablets, and computers otherwise was easy as pie.

Ultimately, there's nothing that jumps out and grabs us about this printer, but it works and works well in our experience. The MSRP is $250, but a number of retailers currently have it on sale, for instance Amazon has it for $193. So, for a home that does a lot of printing or light business work, that doesn't require two-sided printing, we think this is a pretty good deal.