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Best Brother Printers

Updated December 2018
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 26 Models Considered
  • 10 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 175 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best Brother printers

    Last Updated December 2018

    Although the company got its start making sewing machines, electronics manufacturer Brother has become one of the biggest names in printers, competing with long-established brands like HP, Epson, and Canon. Brother has made a niche for itself in the printer market with affordability and ease of use, so if you need a printer that can produce high-quality output without breaking the bank, Brother printers are the best place to start.

    Read our shopping guide for our take on Brother printers – the features you should look for, the specifications that matter, and the “gotchas” to avoid – and you’ll be all set to find the model that’s perfect for you.

    Brother ink printers vs. laser printers

    The first decision to make when buying a Brother printer is whether you want one that prints with ink or one that prints with toner. Both have pluses and minuses.

    Ink printers are more affordable than laser printers, and replacement ink is also less expensive than laser toner. Ink printers leave pages wet, which can lead to smearing before the ink dries, especially if you’re printing photos. If you do a lot of printing in color, or you don’t have a lot of money to spend, an ink printer is still a solid choice.

    Laser printers are pricier but typically print faster and with less risk of print imperfections. Color laser printers are especially expensive, and so is the toner, so some laser printers have high ongoing costs. If you need a printer for daily use or don’t need a color printer, Brother has multiple laser models that are surprisingly affordable.

    Jack of all trades

    Brother’s All-in-One spares no expense – it’s got high-resolution scanning, built-in WiFi, and it’s significantly faster than other models in its class. It doesn’t print in color, but at this price point it’s one of the best values in monochrome all-in-ones.

    Brother printer specs that matter

    Most printer manufacturers provide pages of statistics about each model, but when it comes down to it, there are three specifications that matter the most. When you’re comparing Brother printers, pay close attention to these key stats.

    • Dots per inch (dpi): This is a measurement of the resolution of an image or text that a printer can produce. For print work, a lower number (such as 200 dpi) is fine for readable text, but for images or photos, a higher number (such as 2,400 dpi) is recommended.

    • Pages per minute (ppm): This describes how quickly the printer can print. If you print a lot of long documents, this basically equates to how long you’ll be waiting, so it’s worthwhile paying attention to which models have faster ppm rates.

    • Pages per ink or toner cartridge: This is an estimate of the number of pages you can expect to print out of a single ink or toner cartridge before you have to replace it. Ink and toner are both pretty expensive, so the higher the number the better.

    Near-field communication (NFC) is a wireless protocol for devices similar to Bluetooth. Bluetooth has a wide range but typically slow data-transfer speeds. In contrast, NFC has a very short range but can transfer information faster. NFC-enabled Android phones can send documents to print to a Brother printer that supports NFC in a matter of seconds without having to pair any devices.

    Brother printer features to consider

    Brother offers a wide array of printers, each with a different set of helpful features, but some are better than others. Here are the features we consider essential.

    Wireless printing: What used to be a luxury has quickly become a bare essential. Brother printers with wireless printing let you send photos or documents directly from your iOS or Android smartphone to be printed immediately. If you spend more time on your phone than you do at your desktop computer, or if you move around your house with your laptop a lot, wireless printing is a crucial convenience.

    Double-sided printing: We love saving trees, and double-sided printing is one of the best ways to do it. It also saves money on paper, which will make a big difference if you expect to print large documents on a regular basis.

    Scanning and batch scanning: While some Brother printers are “all-in-ones,” meaning they print, scan, and fax, other models simply offer printing and scanning without a built-in fax machine. Having a scanner can be incredibly useful, especially if your work involves signing a lot of documents. Having a batch scanner means you can scan multiple pages in a single job – a huge time-saver over scanning documents one page at a time.

    EXPERT TIP

    If you buy a Brother printer with a built-in fax machine, you’ll need a phone line to connect it to. Fax machines require traditional landlines and don’t typically work with Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone lines.


    Staff  | BestReviews
    EXPERT TIP

    If you buy a Brother printer with a built-in scanner and auto-feeder, make sure any documents you place in it to scan don’t have any paper clips or staples attached. These fasteners can cause major damage to internal scanner components or scratch your scanner’s glass.


    Staff  | BestReviews
    EXPERT TIP

    Most Brother printers connect to your computer using a USB cable, typically one that supports the older USB 2.0 standard. While some newer models support the faster USB 3.0 standard, when it comes to printers, USB 2.0 is more than fast enough because the amount of data being transferred is so small.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Brother printer prices

    Brother’s printers are priced to compete with better-known brands – and offer outstanding value in just about any price range. You can expect to pay between $50 and $350 for a Brother printer, depending on features.

    Inexpensive: Between $50 and $99, you’ll find Brother’s best black-and-white printers (sometimes referred to as “monochrome”). Models in this price range don’t sacrifice much besides color, so it’s definitely possible to find a Brother laser printer with things like wireless printing for less than $100.

    Mid-range: Between $100 and $199, Brother sells models that include features that other brands charge a lot more for. In this price range, you’ll see robust multifunction machines: Brother’s printer/scanner/fax machines that have laser printing, duplex printing, and WiFi. If you need a printer that produces above-average prints and includes nearly all of the bells and whistles, many of Brother’s best values are in this range.

    Expensive: Between $200 and $350, you’ll encounter Brother’s printers for small businesses. Printers in this price range are built like tanks and work well in bigger network environments with a variety of devices. If you need a printer that will easily handle printing more than 50 pages a day, you’ll need to look at Brother’s most expensive options.

    The perfect printer for people who hate printers

    Brother has packed a lot of quality into this unassuming little laser printer, but the real story here is how easy it is to use. Setting up WiFi access is a snap, and replacing the toner is a two-minute process. If you dread dealing with electronics and just need a printer that will work when you need it to, this is the one to buy.

    Tips

    • Research how much replacement ink or toner costs for each model you’re considering. Most printer manufacturers aren’t really in the printer business. They’re in the ink business. If you find a printer with an unbelievably low price, look up the cost of ink or toner for that specific model and you may find that some “amazing” deals will cost more over the course of ownership than models that require a higher upfront investment.

    • Before installing any software or drivers for your Brother printer, make sure your computer even needs them. Many operating systems can treat Brother printers as “plug-and-play” printers. For years, computer owners have wrestled with installing printer drivers – the software that enables your computer to interact with the printer – on their computers. Manufacturer drivers and software can be useful, but nowadays most major operating systems (including Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux) include drivers for a wide variety of printers, so all you have to do is plug the printer in. Before you start fussing with third-party software, test to see what your operating system can do on its own.

    • Don’t stock up on more than one extra ink or toner cartridge at a time. Both ink and toner dry out, so if you buy too much ahead of time and you don’t need it for a while, your spare ink could end up useless. If you print fewer than 50 pages per month, don’t keep more than one spare ink or toner cartridge.
    If you really want to see which Brother printer is the best value, take the cost of a single ink or toner cartridge, and divide that amount by the number of pages it projects it will print. That is your estimated cost per page. By understanding each model’s cost per page, you can compare long-term costs of ownership.

    FAQ

    Q. Will a Brother printer work with my Mac?

    A. Yes. All Brother printers are compatible with Mac OS X, either through Brother’s included software or OS X’s built-in plug-and-play printer functionality.

    Q. Which looks better: paper printed from an inkjet printer or paper printed from a laserjet?

    A. It depends on the specific printers, but in general, laser printers produce clearer documents and are less prone to the smearing that can occur on pages printed with an inkjet. Print clarity is measured in dots per inch (dpi), so if you’re trying to compare two printers to determine which will produce the better output, the model with the higher dpi is likely to be much sharper.
    Q. Will photos look OK if I print them with a laser printer?

    A. Yes! Although color laser printers are among the most expensive printers available, when it comes to printing photographs, they can produce some of the best prints available (although inkjets with multiple-color inks do a very good job as well). Just be careful when you’re looking at laser printers. In order for photographs to look good, the printer needs to have a high dpi rating. For color photographs, we recommend a model with at least 2,400 dpi.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Bronwyn
      Bronwyn
      Editor
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Jaime
      Jaime
      Writer
    • Melinda
      Melinda
      Web Producer
    • Melissa
      Melissa
      Senior Editor
    • Stacey
      Stacey
      Writer

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