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As a color laser-class multifunction printer for a small-home-based office or work group, the Brother HL-L3290CDW offers good speed and output quality for text and graphics. It is very similar to our Editors’ Choice the Brother HL-L8360CDW, in that it prints in color, is fast and produces quality output. But unlike our top pick, it lacks an automatic document feeder (ADF) for multipage document scanning. For light-duty use, like copying or scanning a couple of pages at a time, you’d save a few dollars by choosing the HL-L3290CDW over its pricey stablemate.
Laser printers have always been behemoths that use more space in the office or worktop, but the MFC-L3770CDW and its ilk are not true laser printers. It doesn’t use a traditional laser apparatus to instruct the printer where to fuse toner to the paper, rather, it utilizes LED arrays which are smaller and less costly than their laser counterparts. As a result, you have a small, lighter and less-expensive to manufacture machines.
Now, LED-based printers are common place, though, they behave like laser-based machines, at least from a user-perspective. If you follow recent trends, some of the latest models tend to run about the same size and price as their traditional laser counterparts. Measures 14.5 by 16.1 by 18.7 inches (HWD) and weighs 47.8 pounds, the HL-L3290CDW isn’t exactly petite as most of its competitors. It is larger and heavier than the HP Color Laser Jet Pro MFP M180nw, but in the same ballpark as the Canon Color image Class MF634Cdw, our top pick for entry-level color laser AIO with an automatic document feeder (ADF).
The HL-L3290CDW features an easy-to-use control panel, consisting a handful of buttons for making copies and interacting with the drill-down style menus and a small two-line monochrome display. Still, you can configure and monitor the printer via a built-in web site, that even allow you to set up users and other security parameters.
The Brother HL-L3290CDW has a 250-sheet main drawer and a one-sheet override tray just above the main drawer, while the MFC-L3770CDW comes with a 250-sheeet main drawer and a 30-sheet multipurpose tray. Compared: Canon MF42Ddw holds up to 300 sheets, but is expandable to 900 sheets, while HP’s M180nw only holds up to 150 sheets.
The printer has a 30,000 pages maximum monthly duty cycle, with a recommended monthly print volume of 1,500. This is just about the same duty cycle as the competitors mentioned here.
Connectivity and Security
On the HL-L3290CDW connectivity consists of Wi-Fi, and you can as well connect to a single PC via USB 2.0, and Wi-Fi direct. The last option allows the printer to connect to mobile devices that are neither connected to a network or router. Unlike the MFC-L3770CDW, though, this one doesn’t support Ethernet, which is odd for a laser-class machine and near-field-communication (NFC) for touch-to-print functionality.
In addition to Wi-Fi direct, the printer has other mobile connectivity options that consists of Apple Airprint, Google Cloud Print, Morpia, and Brother’s very own iPrint&Scan supporting both Android and iOS devices. With iPrint&Scan, you can scan to email, image, OCR (that converts scanned text to editable text), file and FTP.
Security features here are basic. You can secure documents with personal identification numbers, but Brother enhances the feature further by allowing you assigns PINs to the scanner as well. As such, you can limit or deny use based on username, groups, or IP addresses, alongside standard SNMP and other network security protocols.
Brother rates the HL-L3290CDW at 25 pages per minute (ppm) for both black and white pages. In testing, it prints a Microsoft Word text-based document at 23.8ppm, which is slightly slower than its sibling the MFC-L3770CDW and about 9ppm faster than HP’s M180nw, and almost 5ppm over the Canon MF634Cdw.
If you regularly print complex color documents (Acrobat, Excel, and PowerPoint) containing charts, graphs and other business-level graphics as well as photos, this printer will get the job done. If you combine color printing results with the previous results, you’re getting a final score of 10.8ppm for printing an entire business suite. It is a score that is in the same category as the MFC-L3770CDW, but much better than the HP Laserjet Pro M180nw and the MFC634Cdw.
If there’s one thing that is shared across all Brother LED-array printers is the ability to churn out good-looking documents. Just like its bigger stablemate the MFC-L3770CDW, the HL-L3290CDW’s text is well-shaped and is very legible down to about 6 points, which is more than acceptable for most business needs.
This printer produces charts, graphs, and other business graphics with solid fills and well aligned gradients with just a few perceptible flaws. Hairlines on documents and other rules are well-delineated, and embedded photos are accurately and have fine details.
You’re spending 2.6 cents for black pages and 15.5 cents for color making it very inexpensive, especially compared with other laser-class printers. On the other hand, the HP M180nw’s running costs are 4.6 cents for monochrome pages and 23.5 cents for color pages, while Canon’s MF634Cdn run at 3.2 cents for black and 16.4 cents for color.
For those who will be printing 100 or 200 pages each month, the HL-L3290CDW is an ultimate cost saver, but if you push it to the recommended 1,500 pages each month or its siblings and competitors, running costs may be expensive over time. In case you will be printing hundreds of pages per month, it’s economical to look into an inkjet model with a bulk-ink system like our Editors’ Top Pick Epson WF-C5790 with the highest-yield ink bags, black per-page cost of 1.7 cents and color page costs of 7.7 cents.
The Bottom Line
The Brother HL-L3290CDW is a great printer, though the lack of an ADF and Ethernet make it a mixed bag of choices among color laser printers. Not a deal breaker, though. It is incredibly fast enough and prints well, but if your printer expectations merge with the need to scan or copy multipage documents or require forward-looking connectivity, our Editors’ Choice Brother HL-L8360CDW offers better, all-round versatility in all those areas.
Keep in mind that for those perks and versatility you’re going to spend almost $100, which is well worth. Otherwise, the Brother HL-L3290CDW is a better prospective than most of its competitors and is a respectable alternative to have on a budget.
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Brother HL-L3290CDW Compact Digital Color Printer Providing Laser Printer Quality Results with Convenient Flatbed Copy & Scan, Wireless Printing and Duplex Printing, Amazon Dash Replenishment Enabled
1 used from $249.00