Brother HL-4000CN

Though pricey, the HL-4000CN pays its way with top print quality

WHAT'S HOT: There's a lot to like about the HL-4000CN, starting with great print quality--crisp, even black text, clean narrow lines, and nice detail and shading on color and gray-scale graphics. And though it's not the fastest color laser we've tested, its 9.4-page-per-minute text-printing speed means your workgroup could get by without a monochrome printer. Also, the HL-4000CN has an internal duplexer as standard equipment, so you can print booklets--or just save paper--without having to hand-feed your job. The HL-4000CN's clearly labeled control panel buttons accurately match the menu choices displayed on the LCD. The driver software offers such useful features as the ability to insert a blank sheet between transparencies.

WHAT'S NOT: Though this is essentially the same printer as the Minolta Magicolor 3100 DN and the Xerox Phaser 6200N, at $3199 its price is higher than theirs by $1000 and $800, respectively. And despite costing more, it comes with less memory--only 64MB to the Xerox's 128MB and the Minolta's 256MB. For heavy use, you'll probably need to add more RAM. One minor drawback affects all three printers: The auxiliary tray's design makes you want to pull up to open it when in fact you should pull down, and even then it's balky and doesn't move easily.

WHAT ELSE: For $1000 you can equip the HL-4000CN with an internal hard drive, enabling such features as the ability to store fonts online and to cache password-protected files. To expand the unit's paper-handling capacity, you can add an $1100 subsystem with two 500-sheet drawers. We could do without the 19 booklets, cards, and posters that make up the HL-4000CN's printed documentation set; fortunately, the on-screen manual, with animations to show hands-on tasks, provides detailed information about using the printer.

UPSHOT: You'll pay more for the HL-4000CN than for similar lasers--both to buy it and to add the extra memory you'll probably need--but its superior print quality won't disappoint a color-hungry office.

By Dan Littman

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.