As a stay at home parent, I use my printer on a daily basis. From digital copies of medical records and bills, to word scrambles, coloring pages, and fun pictures for the kids, our printers get constant use. And before the kids, we were in college; The printing just never stops! And the worst part is that ink refills were so expensive, it was cheaper to get a new photo printer at Walmart than refill the cartridges, and who wants fifty trashed printers going into the dump every year? So a few years ago, my husband and I made the switch to laser printers. Sure, we still keep a photo printer around for the occasional high quality color print, but 99% of our needs were originally met by an $80 Brother HL-2170W wireless laser printer! We’ve only had to replace the toner a couple times over the years, and have spent so much less than we had been with ink!
So now that we’re growing as a family, we need to be able to scan school documents, print color birthday invitations and wall decorations, flash cards, or make quick copies of things the kids bring us (Alex wants to carry around his class photo but you know it won’t last long playing outside with him!). We looked into our options for quality printing, preferably in an all-in-one so we can scan, copy, and print with just one machine. Hoping to stick to laser printers, we decided on the Brother MFC 9130CW. This wireless color laser printer is amazing!
The MFC 9130CW printer also works as a copier, wireless scanner (yep, it will send documents to your computer from anywhere in the house), and even a fax machine! We don’t have a landline, so we were unable to test the fax option, but we gave the rest of the machine some good use. The set up was so incredibly simple that I was able to set it up on my own with a 4 year old by my side. The toner needs a few plastic covers pulled off, and some stickers holding doors closed need removed. A simple illustrated instruction paper shows where each item is and how to install the toner cartridges. Once the printer is set up and powered on, the touch screen allows you to set things up. Within seconds it found our WiFi, I typed in the password right there on the touch screen, and it connected! All of our computers were able to find it instantly on both Mac and PC. One thing the instructions did not specify, but I recommend, is going into the options and tools and pressing “calibrate.” The printer will adjust itself so your don’t have streaks or ghost images in your printed pictures.
As a scanner, the unit was great. You can scan and copy at different quality levels. Higher quality will take a few seconds longer to scan, but will be a much richer and more detailed image than the low quality scans. When connected to your network, the scanner can send images to a destination such as your computer. And with a top loading slot, you can drop a stack of documents, set to scan to your computer, and walk away. Those 20 pages will be automatically taken care of. I thought this was especially great, because I hate having to sit at a scanner and put one page on, wait for scan, open the door, take page off, put new page on, wait for scan… you get the idea.
The printing quality is also highly dependent on your settings. Standard quality is perfect for black and white images, text documents, and general printing. We often use a low quality by default to save toner, because our kids really don’t care if the lines on their coloring pages are perfectly crisp and clear. We really want to save toner, because once we found the Brother Creative Center, the printer was going non-stop for the afternoon! The Brother Creative Center has a huge selection of free crafts, activities, educational flash cards, games, and more for the kids to enjoy, and Alex and Evan were more than happy to yell “PRINT! PRINT!” at almost everything. The Creative Center will prove useful for Mommy and Daddy too, with free business templates, brochures, letter head, and more.
The real test we wanted to perform was a photo test, using the high quality setting on the printer. Laser printers do not offer the same level of crispness and clarity that ink can provide, so we set out to test how far laser quality has come in recent years. My husband made birthday invitation post cards featuring HD images of our son’s favorite characters. The front is a large and colorful promo image of Lego Marvel Super Heroes, including hundreds of colors and a high range of lights to darks. The back features Baymax, Lego Iron Man, and stylized text for the invite information and addresses. He set the printer to thick paper media, since he printed on cardstock, and set the quality to “Best.” On Wifi, the images took a couple minutes to send to the printer and be processed. But again, this was an HD picture, so that was understandable. Once processing completed, the cardstock was pulled in the manual feed slot and was done printing in about three seconds. There were a couple areas of very bright light in the image where lines from the printer heads were visible, but otherwise the images were very high quality! We were actually surprised it did so well; High quality prints are clear and bright enough to frame and nobody can tell it came from a laser printer! We are definitely impressed with how far consumer model laser printers have come in quality. Just make sure to use laser-compatible photo paper!
As you can imagine, copying combines the scanner and printer and the same parameters apply to each. If you select high quality copy, it will both scan and print in high quality. And of course, with two ornery little boys and one big one in the house, hands, feet, and even faces were copied directly on the scanner bed. Lower quality copies of faces came out very dark and a bit creepy! But the high quality copies of soft tiny squished faces were incredibly cute, and the boys had a great time with the printer! (Note: No, the scanner light isn’t bright enough to hurt the eyes, but in case you’re worried, all eyes were closed and I promise no children were hurt in the process of this review.)
And one last thing – I have had so much fun printing directly from my iPhone. Generally I email myself the pages to print from my laptop, but now I can save myself the extra steps. I can even print our own free activity sheets from FamilyCentsability.com!
If you’re looking for a printer, and are tired of constantly refilling ink, buying new printers, and having your old ink dry up and clog the heads, head over to Brother and make the switch to laser! Go wireless or All-In-One for even more fun and functionality!
Disclosure: We were provided a complimentary product in return for an honest review.