Brother makes its mark in printer race

Last month, Montreal-based Brother International Corp. released two new printers equipped with built-in duplexing – the ability to print on both sides of a page – as a standard.

According to the company, the sub-$1,000 HL-1650 and the network-ready HL-1670N office laser monochrome printers print at 16 pages per minute (ppm) and feature a built-in three-colour backlit LCD display.

“It sounds decorative, but it is very useful,” explained Marc Ruel, printer product specialist for Brother. He said the colour LCD enables a user to instantly view the status of the printer using green to indicate a ready status, amber to indicate a set-up status, and red to indicate user intervention is required.

Ruel also explained that the HL-1650 is the base model and comes with an optional networking card. He said the HL1670N is essentially the same machine except that it comes with the networking card as well as 8MB more standard memory.

He added that the duplexing feature will appeal to many small- to medium-sized businesses. Although he did note that many printers can perform duplexing, he said that up until recently it required an additional piece of machinery.

“We have it built in at a price that no other competitor has,” he said. “Duplexing saves you paper and saves you space as well in the storage of the paper.”

According to Angele Boyd, group vice-president for IDC in Framingham, Mass., duplexing is not a necessity.

“Duplexing at this speed is not really in high demand, but I think it is a way for vendors to say that you are getting more value,” Boyd said. “I think that in this day and age when people are trying to conserve costs, being able to print on two sides of a page can be attractive.”

Boyd said that typically, Brother’s claim to fame has been that it offers the same or more features than their competitors at a much lower price.

Ruel said that Brother’s pricing for the two new machines are considerably less expensive than others available on the market.

“Our whole philosophy is that everyone makes machines with the same components and roughly the same quality,” he said. “With some manufacturers, you pay more for the name. We try to give you the best value for your dollar.”

Other features of the Brother printers include Brother’s HQ1200 printing technology, parallel and USD interfaces standard for cross platform compatibility, 350 sheet paper input capacity, 250 sheet lower paper tray and toner capacity of up to 6,500 pages.

Boyd said the HL-1650 and HL-1670N are solid machines for small businesses. She said that smaller businesses are less likely to have standards allowing them to only purchase certain brands, which puts the Brother products at a competitive place in the market.

The HL-1650 is priced at $999.99, and the HL-1670N is priced at $1,249.99. Both printers are available now. For more information visit