Tuesday 26 October 2010

Printers Are Sexy

No I haven't gone completely mad. Printers need to work. Seamlessly. Often they don't or they spew out paper like trees grow really quickly on this little planet of ours. Or they go through ink like an alcoholic with a bottle of whiskey. Or they are noisy and you get that one little line that appears on every page right at the crucial point. Toner is expensive, that's a fact.

When you are on a deadline or getting ready for 'that' presentation or just promised you'd cook tonight and need to print off the recipe or your partner really will leave you this time, printer failure can cause rages in people that is frightening to behold. Forget road rage, printer rage involves an inanimate object often small enough to throw.

Now having some experience of working with Epson and HP I have to admit that I did prefer HP's printer products as a rule. The products were great and I really liked the sales guy, Howard who I worked with in my Nikon days.

I bought a HP printer earlier this year for my office and have tended to stick with HP on printers. Epson I liked the campaign they did on the London Underground a few years ago. It was attention grabbing but it used pixellation which no-one wants to see in their print results.

However I would now like to introduce you to my new favourite. Brother. Here's a little information as to why.

They are the only printer manufacturer that makes a separate toner and drum on their Mono printer, which means you don't have to replace the whole thing every time your printer needs more toner.

They have been awarded eco-accreditations for zero landfill from their factories and because they have reduced the amount of non-recyclable materials in manufacture and increased their use of recycled materials. They were awarded an Energy Star, The German Blue Angel and the Nordic Swan. The Nordic Swan takes a serious three and half years of factory visits and book auditing to attain. Wow, who knew?

Brother materialised over 100 years ago starting, funnily enough, with two Brothers who repaired sewing machines in Ngoya, Japan. These boys then moved onto making them and diversified into typewriters, microwaves and Karaoke machines. They in fact became the biggest supplier of Karaoke networks in Japan.

They've been knocking around Europe for 60 years and on our lovely Island for 50. Brother are the leading supplier into the NHS and with their latest product range it is easy to see why.

The HL-5350DN Mono Laser Function Printer may not be sexy but there are a couple of thoughtful elements that have gone into the product design and aftercare. We tested it with the Lenovo ThinkPads to see how easy installation is. This is often not only a bug bear but a frustrating process for even hardened technogeeks.

So we went to plug in the USB cable from laptop to printer, but a sticker over it on the printer gently reminds you to install your software first. We didn't even need a disc, the Lenovo just found and installed the driver and it was "well quick". On the wireless printers the laptop automatically finds it on a drop-down list, with the plug in printers the install discs were used.

This model is a good basic networking printer for a number of office users. It has actually proven to be cheaper over 3-4 years than its nearest competitor. It prints quickly, quietly and without fuss or fanfare. Which is what you need for your clucking group of admin ladies or busy accounts department.

We then moved onto testing the DCP-375CW which is a wireless printer. I have just told my Mum to buy one. Previously she had bought HP like me and on my recommendation.

It's black and sleek but not in your face. It incorporates Brother capillary action technology which was developed in-house which is a unique way the ink is distributed to save you ink (yes, SAVE you ink) and the USB cable is run internally to reduce cable mess. Even the plug is on the side so it can sit flush to the wall. Simple yet brilliant design.

It prints photos in fantastic quality in just 49 seconds! It's just great design which is the part I find sexy. I don't expect you to agree, most people really don't think printers are sexy but each to their own and I find any company that is genuinely passionate about their products, attractive.

Lastly, we tested the MFC-6890CDW which can print photo quality on A3 sized photo paper in colour at roughly a £1.40 cost. We printed out a picture of penguins and decided it would be good enough to be framed and put on the wall. I'm terribly fussy about these things and I am the first person to point out any pixellation or aberrations in print.

This printer would be great and affordable for a graphic design studio or small creative agency.

What I am impressed about with Brother is the care, attention to detail and ingenuity that goes into each of their products. Most companies spend time trying to figure out how to get you to spend more money on cartridges, toner and other consumables, whereas Brother concentrates on saving you time and money ensuring you keep their products for longer and will therefore always buy Brother again.

Their commitment to the environment is impressive, tackled head on and transparently. I'm not often left with absolutely nothing negative to say about a technology company but I was seriously impressed.

Use their printers combined with this browser tool and you'll never print wasted pages again.


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