I waited a while to write this review because so often I get a product and it works great, but then a few months later something goes wrong or I uncover something about it that I can’t stand. Fortunately, even having had it for several months, that has not happened with my Brother MFC-L2700DW. This printer has, for the most part, been simply amazing.
How much Have we used it? As I write this review, we have run 879 pages off of this machine. 141 of which were copies, and the rest prints. In addition I’ve used the machine to scan probably that many pages for storing digital documentation.
When I went looking for a new printer I had a few requirements. First, it had to have a LAN port and work well as a LAN printer. There have been so many times that I have tried printers with claims to work on a LAN, only to find out that half the time they won’t wake from sleep like they should. Having to manually power up a printer before using it defeats the purpose of having it hooked to the LAN. So once it was home, and setup, this was the first thing I tested! The MFC-L2700DW could be setup to work as a wireless printer, but since I’m not a fan of wireless, I haven’t even tried it.
Second, and most importantly, the printer had to have Linux support. We have several computers in our house and not one of them runs Windows as the primary operating system. Linux support for our peripherals is a must. I was absolutely stunned to find that not only was there support for Linux, but that support didn’t come by way of third-party open source drivers, rather the company took the time to produce the drivers themselves. This was ultimately a selling point on the brand as I’d never used a Brother product for anything before.
Third, I wanted an all-in-one laser printer. My wife and I have avoided spending money on a laser printer for years. The printers are more expensive, the cartridges were more expensive, and we wanted to print our own pictures.
Photo printers excelled at spitting out our wall photo’s but the need to print them ourselves has long passed. With the only photo printing we do being for our walls paying Walgreens, or some other storefront, to print them for us has become worth it. We use the colored heads on a printer so infrequently that by the time we’d want to use them again the cartridges were dry and plugged and either didn’t work, or produced garbage results. The $10.00 for a picture at a local storefront is worth it when we print so few.
The bulk of our printing and copying is gray-scale. As home-schoolers we need the ability to copy information, like worksheets, out of books for our kids to use. Okay, well maybe we don’t have to but it certainly saves us a great deal of money by being able to use the curriculum with the next child as he or she comes to need it. Thus our printer needs the ability to not only print, but easily copy as well.
The Brother MFC-L2700DW met all my requirements, and since I got it home, I’ve found it excels beyond anything I expected. Keep in mind, I didn’t have any idea what to really expect, but as we have continued to use this printer, both my wife and I find ourselves saying, “I love our printer” quite often.
Alright, so what do I love and hate about it?
What I Hate
Linux setup sucks. It has taken me almost an hour to get the printer going on each computer I’ve set it up to work with. The setup is rough. Now, part of this is my fault. As I set up the printer, I didn’t keep good track of all my steps and so when a few weeks have passed and I have to duplicate them on something else, I find myself going through the frustrations again. I’ll be making a virtual machine soon for the sole purpose of setting up this printer on an Ubuntu 14.04 platform just so I can make a blog post on how to do it.
I’m sure the setup in Windows is a piece of cake. Typically with any printer you just slip a disk in, install their drivers, along with 9000 (yes I like to exaggerate) bloated applications, and your printer is working perfectly for you. In trade, your computer just went from running like a Porsche to running like a Mack truck. With Linux we work a little harder but keep our performance.
Other than the Linux setup though, I don’t have a single complaint about this piece of hardware.
What I Love
The wakeup time is quick. I haven’t timed it, but it’s fast. If we print from the living room, by the time we get to the office the page is out. There just isn’t a bunch of waiting around on a single page print job. This might be normal for a laser printer, but I wouldn’t know since this is my first.
The copy speed isn’t crazy fast like an industrial copy machine would be. But bearing in mind that this is basically a flatbed scanner making a copy, I’m extremely happy with the speed in which it copies.
Double Sided Copies
Such a simple feature. I should have looked for it from the beginning, but didn’t even think of it. My wife changes a couple settings on the face of the printer, and starts copying pages from a book. Scan after scan she dumps in. When she’s done, she hits a button to indicate that, and out comes the results with pages printed on both sides of the paper just like a book. No messing around with scanning all the odds and then all the even, it does the work for you!
When simply copying, or scanning, pieces of paper, the self feeder at the top of the printer works outstanding. While we have never tried doing double-sided printing like this, I’m quite sure the printer would handle it. The self feeder handles paper size changes perfectly.
I once had to scan about a dozen pieces of paper into a single PDF – notes for a project I was working on – and the feeder handled them flawlessly. The sheets consisted of 8.5 x 11, and 4.25 x 5.5 sheets.
Scanning to PDF
This is my favorite ability of this printer. Silly I know, because any scanner could do it, but this thing rocks at scanning. Using XSane as my scanning program of choice in Linux, I’m easily able to set up my document scanning and pound paper information into digital storage. While my wife is a fan of paper, I’m a digital guy. Get it scanned, get it on the hard drive, get the drive backed up once or twice then recycle the paper.
Using XSane I set the software to scan multiple pages, tell it how many, give it a file name, hit the scan button and walk away. But don’t walk too far! I scanned my 50+ page yearly income tax documents in less than 2 minutes. From 50+ pieces of paper to a single PDF file in the click of a button. No loading page after page, just click, go get a cup of coffee, come back, and done.
I once had a group of documents I wanted to scan that were double sided. Medical records for our special-needs son actually. I pulled the staple, and loaded them into the auto-feed tray. After setting a file name, I click the button. When done, I flipped them over, and scanned them again into a different file name.
With the even pages in one PDF and the odd pages in another PDF (in about 3 minutes), I then used PDFtk and shuffled them into a single PDF in correct order with a single command. The combining time? Seconds. So from 20+ pieces of double sided printed paper, to single PDF file correctly ordered, under five minutes. Only about 1 minute of which required me to focus on the task.
Finally, I love the size of the paper tray. Could it be bigger? YES! Bigger is always better, right? Well at least in the case of paper trays. While I’d love my printer to be able to hold a full ream of paper, I’ll happily settle with the half to three-quarters of a ream that this one holds.