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Brother HL-L3295CDW review: a low-cost, scalable color laser printer

Brother's HL-L3295CDW is a compact color laser printer.
Brother HL-L3295CDW
MSRP $369.99
“Brother's HL-L3295CDW is a compact and fast color laser printer that's built for productivity and security, making it better for small businesses than for home offices.”
Pros
  • Excellent color document print quality
  • Fast prints on long documents
  • Low toner cost with super high-yield cartridges
  • Includes over 1,000 pages worth of toner
  • Walk-up USB port for quick printing
  • Low noise
Cons
  • Screen is hard to see when seated
  • Touchscreen use is awkward
  • Paper curls

Brother’s HL-L3295CDW is a speedy color laser printer designed for your home office or small business. If you want eye-catching color documents and reports with charts and images, its features should check of all the items on your wish list.

While it looks good on paper, I wanted to go hands-on with the HL-L3295CDW to identify any issues and assess how much value you’ll get from this productivity-focused printer. For each new printer I review, I check whether it’s good enough to earn a spot on our list of the best color laser printers.

Design

The color touchscreen of Brother's HL-L3295CDW is fixed at a 20-degree angle.
The color touchscreen of Brother’s HL-L3295CDW is fixed at a 20-degree angle. Alan Truly / Digital Trends

The single-function Brother HL-L3295CDW is an attractive, off-white color laser printer with a small footprint that measures 17.6 by 15.7 inches. It stands just 10.8 inches tall. Since the output bin is on top, that doesn’t extend its dimensions. While this is a small printer, it’s sturdy and weighs 36.8 pounds.

There is a 2.7-inch color touchscreen on the top, to the left of the output bin. It’s fixed in place at a 20-degree angle, which works well when I’m standing in front of the HL-L3295CDW. If I was sitting, it would be hard to see the display. An adjustable angle that could tilt the screen more vertically would have been nice.

Brother includes a convenient USB-A port for a thumb drive on the front left side, with an NFC card reader on top. This extra security measure isn’t needed for home use, but might be welcome in a busy office.

The main paper tray is a removable drawer at the bottom that can hold 250 sheets of paper. A 30-sheet multipurpose tray angles out from a front panel, making it easy to print envelopes and labels without swapping the paper in the main tray.

USB-B and Ethernet ports at the right rear allow for direct connection to a computer, but dual-band Wi-Fi is also supported.

Printing performance

Brother's HL-L3295CDW is fast with great color document quality.
Brother’s HL-L3295CDW is fast, with great color document quality. Alan Truly / Digital Trends

The Brother HL-L3295CDW is a fast printer once it gets rolling. Long documents rush through at up to 31 pages per minute (ppm), outpacing the 22-ppm speed of Canon’s imageClass MF654cdw, but falling behind the 35-ppm pace of Canon’s imageClass MF753cdw. These Canon printers are all-in-one color laser printers, but the imageClass MF654cdw is in the same price tier as Brother’s HL-L3295CDW.

When it comes to quality, the HL-L3295CDW offers excellent color document printing and supports duplex, so you can save paper by printing on both sides. It also offers a lower cost per page than most color laser printers. I’ll discuss toner prices below.

I tinkered with the color and contrast settings to see if I could make colors more vivid and get darker blacks. Color balance is accurate, but pictures remained a bit washed out. While the HL-L3295CDW offers excellent color document print quality and images look good, this isn’t the best choice for printing photos. Inkjet printers have always been the best photo printers.

Brother's HL-L3295CDW is fast but paper tends to curl after passing through the printer.
Brother’s HL-L3295CDW is fast, but paper tends to curl after passing through the printer. Photo by Tracey Truly / Digital Trends

Monochrome printing is crisp and fast. The first page of a document prints in as little as 13 seconds. The media tray is well labeled and seems durable. It reliably pulled envelopes, labels, and heavy paper through with no trouble. I did notice a substantial amount of curling after paper passed through the printer, particularly on thicker paper.

Special features

The HL-L3295CDW's thumb drive and NFC card reader are good for business use.
The HL-L3295CDW’s thumb drive and NFC card reader are good for business use. Photo by Tracey Truly / Digital Trends

The Brother HL-L3295CDW is a business-oriented printer. As your home office or small business grows, you can expand its printing capacity with an optional lower paper tray, supporting a total of 500 sheets of paper so you don’t have to slow down. The printer is designed to stack on top of the secondary expansion tray.

It has a USB drive port for easy printing without installing an app. You can require NFC badge authentication, so you enjoy that convenience without sacrificing security.

With the Brother Mobile Connect app, I can print, check toner levels, and order supplies from Brother when I’m out of the office. It’s also possible to print from cloud-based apps like Google Drive, Dropbox, and Evernote.

If you like the look of the HL-L3295CDW, but need to scan, copy, and fax, check out my review of Brother’s MFC-L3780CDW, an all-in-one color laser printer that’s just as fast and durable.

Software and compatibility

The HL-L3295CDW could print envelopes from my computer but not my phone.
The HL-L3295CDW could print envelopes from my computer, but not my phone. Photo by Tracey Truly / Digital Trends

Installation was simple. Brother ships the HL-L3295CDW with the toner preinstalled, but with covers on the cartridges. The top of the printer opens for easy access to all four cartridges, so it only took a moment to remove, uncap, and reseat them.

As one of the best and most popular printer brands, Brother printers are recognized by Windows and Mac computers, making setup painless. I was also able to connect my iPhone, iPad, and Android phone to the HL-L3295CDW with Brother’s mobile app.

With the exception of envelopes, everything worked as expected. There’s simply no option to choose a No. 10 envelope in paper settings from Brother Mobile Connect. The same is true of AirPrint when my iPhone is connected to the HL-L3295CDW.

Price

The HL-L3295CDW comes with thousands of pages worth of toner.
The HL-L3295CDW comes with thousands of pages worth of toner. Photo by Tracey Truly / Digital Trends

If you already have a good scanner or rarely need that capability, a single-function color laser printer cuts costs to a minimum. With a retail price of $370, Brother’s HL-L3295CDW saves you over $100 when compared to a similar all-in-one model. Long-term costs are always an important consideration and Brother has some good options to save money on supplies as well.

Brother’s HL-L3295CDW accepts three sizes of toner cartridges: standard, high yield, and super high yield. Your daily printing costs will drop dramatically if you invest in larger toner cartridges. The HL-L3295CDW ships with full standard-yield color toner cartridges that can print 1,200 color pages and a starter high-yield black toner cartridge that’s about 76% full and is equivalent to about 2,300 monochrome pages.

A standard black cartridge prints about 1,500 pages at a cost of $69. That works out to 5 cents per page, which is somewhat expensive for black-and-white documents. Thankfully, you can reduce that to 3 cents per page with an $83 high-yield cartridge (3,000-page capacity), or 2 cents per page with a $110 super-high-yield black toner cartridge (4,500-page capacity).

The savings are even more significant when you buy larger color toner cartridges. Each $73 standard color cartridge prints just 1,200 pages, which equates to 18 cents worth of toner per color page. Your cost will drop to 14 cents per page with high-yield cartridges (2,300-page capacity), and 10 cents per color page with super-high-yield color toner.

That’s one of the lowest supply costs available for a consumer color laser printer. If running costs are a big concern, a fast inkjet tank printer like Epson’s EcoTank Pro ET-5850 might be worth a look.

Is this the printer for you?

This is a high-quality color laser printer with good business features and room to grow. When you add a second paper tray, you can load 550 sheets of paper at one time. 

Combined with super-high-yield cartridges, you can quickly blast through a massive printing queue with few interruptions. The Brother HL-L3295CDW is ready for a workout with a maximum monthly duty cycle of up to 50,000 pages. Recommended print volume is 4,000 pages per month, but this sturdy printer can handle more on occasion.

Still, there are a few issues to consider. The fixed display is best viewed while standing. The touchscreen doesn’t recognize swipe gestures, and instead provided arrow buttons to move through settings. Picture quality is good, but photos look a bit dull.

While it isn’t my top pick for use in a home office, the Brother HL-L3295CDW might be great for a small business that needs a low-cost, robust color laser printer with walk-up printing from a thumb drive and NFC security.

Alan Truly
Alan is a Computing Writer living in Nova Scotia, Canada. A tech-enthusiast since his youth, Alan stays current on what is…
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