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Brother HL-L3280CDW [HL-L3220CDW, HL-L3295CDW] Printer Review

Tested using Methodology v1.2
Reviewed Mar 15, 2024 at 10:01 am
Brother HL-L3280CDW [HL-L3220CDW, HL-L3295CDW] Picture
6.7
Family
7.7
Small/Home Office
7.7
Student
8.0
Black & White
4.3
Photo

The Brother HL-L3280CDW is a print-only color laser printer. It replaces the Brother HL-L3270CDW Laser. This standalone unit uses Brother's TN229 toner cartridges, and it's compatible with the TN229XL high-yield cartridges and eligible to enroll in Brother's Refresh ink/toner subscription service. Connectivity options include USB, Wi-Fi, and Ethernet, and there's support for Apple AirPrint and Mopria Print Service. It has a few variants with slightly different features and performance; you can see them in the Differences Between Variants section.

Our Verdict

6.7 Family

The Brother HL-L3280CDW is okay for family use. Its wide variety of connectivity options make it easy for all household members to access, and thanks to its high page yield and relatively inexpensive toner cartridges, it doesn't cost much to maintain over time. It produces very sharp documents and prints quickly; however, it isn't ideal for photo printing because it has a narrow color range, and its printing pattern is clearly visible in printed photos. Also, the lack of a scanner might be a dealbreaker for some.

Pros
  • Produces incredibly sharp documents.
  • Fast printing speeds.
  • High page yield, low cost-per-print.
  • Wide connectivity options.
Cons
  • No scanner.
  • Not ideal for photo printing due to low print resolution and printing pattern.
  • Narrow color range and poor accuracy.
7.7 Small/Home Office

The Brother HL-L3280CDW is a good office printer. It produces incredibly sharp documents, doesn't take long to warm up, and prints quickly at up to 28 pages per minute. It has many connectivity options, including Wi-Fi and Ethernet, making it easy for everyone in the office to access. The regular toner cartridges yield a large number of prints, and you can get XL cartridges that'll last even longer. Replacement toner is relatively cheap, so you won't have to worry about high running costs. Unfortunately, the lack of a scanner might be a dealbreaker for some offices.

Pros
  • Produces incredibly sharp documents.
  • Fast printing speeds.
  • High page yield, low cost-per-print.
  • Wide connectivity options.
Cons
  • No scanner.
7.7 Student

The Brother HL-L3280CDW is good for student use. It produces amazingly sharp documents, warms up in very little time, and prints quickly at up to 28 pages per minute. Its toner cartridges yield a large number of prints and are relatively inexpensive, so you won't have to worry about high running costs. The main drawback is that it lacks a scanner, which might be inconvenient if you need to scan textbooks or make copies.

Pros
  • Produces incredibly sharp documents.
  • Fast printing speeds.
  • High page yield, low cost-per-print.
  • Wide connectivity options.
Cons
  • No scanner.
8.0 Black & White

The Brother HL-L3280CDW is great for printing black-and-white documents. It produces high-quality documents and prints quickly at up to 28 pages per minute. Plus, its toner cartridges yield a large number of prints and are fairly inexpensive, making it cheap to maintain over time. It's a print-only unit, though, so you'll need a separate scanner if you need to scan anything.

Pros
  • Produces incredibly sharp documents.
  • Fast printing speeds.
  • High page yield, low cost-per-print.
Cons
  • No scanner.
4.3 Photo

The Brother HL-L3280CDW is bad for photo printing. Printed pictures look awful because this model prints at a low resolution and can only produce a narrow range of colors. Also, like most laser printers, the printing pattern is very visible, causing further loss of detail.

Pros
  • High page yield, low cost-per-print.
Cons
  • Not ideal for photo printing due to low print resolution and printing pattern.
  • Narrow color range and poor accuracy.
  • 6.7 Family
  • 7.7 Small/Home Office
  • 7.7 Student
  • 8.0 Black & White
  • 4.3 Photo
  1. Updated Mar 15, 2024: Review published.
  2. Updated Mar 12, 2024: Early access published.
  3. Updated Mar 08, 2024: Our testers have started testing this product.
  4. Updated Mar 07, 2024: The product has arrived in our lab, and our testers will start evaluating it soon.
  5. Updated Feb 20, 2024: We've purchased the product and are waiting for it to arrive in our lab.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

We tested the Brother HL-L3280CDW. There are a few variants with slightly different features and performance; you can see them in the table below.

Model Display Advert. Print Speed Connectivity Paper Input
HL-L3220CDW 1-line monochrome LCD 19 PPM Wi-Fi, USB 1-sheet multi-purpose tray
HL-L3240CDW 1-line monochrome LCD 27 PPM Wi-Fi, USB, Ethernet 1-sheet multi-purpose tray
HL-L3280CDW 2.7-inch Color Touchscreen 27 PPM Wi-Fi, USB, Ethernet 1-sheet multi-purpose tray
HL-L3295CDW 2.7-inch Color Touchscreen 31 PPM Wi-Fi, USB, Ethernet, External Storage (USB), NFC 30-sheet multi-purpose tray, supports optional 250-sheet input tray

See our unit's label here.

Compared To Other Printers

The Brother HL-L3280CDW is a great color laser printer. It stands out for its sturdy build, outstanding print quality, and fast printing speeds. That said, the lack of a scanner might be a dealbreaker for many.

See our recommendations for the best laser printers, the best office printers, and the best printers for small business.

Brother MFC-L3780CDW/MFC-L3720CDW

The Brother HL-L2380CDW and the Brother MFC-L3780CDW are very similar regarding print quality and yield; however, the former is a print-only unit, while the latter is an all-in-one with a scanner. The MFC-L3780CDW technically prints black-and-white documents faster, but only when using a wired USB connection, as its printing speed drops considerably when printing over Wi-Fi. The MFC-L3780CDW has more connectivity options, including support for NFC and external storage drives (USB), though you can get a variant of HL-L3280CDW with the same features.

HP Color LaserJet Pro M255dw

The Brother HL-L3280CDW and the HP Color LaserJet Pro M255dw are very similar print-only color laser printers. The Brother produces higher-quality documents and prints faster but doesn't yield as many prints as the HP. It's worth noting that the HP uses cartridges with an integrated drum, while the Brother has a separate drum unit. An integrated drum makes maintenance less of a hassle since you don't have to replace the drum separately; however, it's also more wasteful because drums typically last much longer than the toner, and you'd have to discard the entire cartridge if the drum gets damaged.

Brother HL-L3270CDW Laser

The Brother HL-L3280CDW is a newer version of the Brother HL-L3270CDW Laser. They have identical features and perform similarly in print quality. The HL-L3280CDW prints slightly faster but doesn't yield as many color prints as the older HL-L3270CDW. The biggest difference is that the HL-L3270CDW requires more maintenance because its drum unit wears out much faster.

Xerox VersaLink C500/DN

The Brother HL-L3280CDW and the Xerox VersaLink C500/DN are both print-only color laser printers. The Xerox prints much faster, up to 45 pages per minute, and its input tray can hold a lot of paper, making it a better option for high-volume printing. Although the Xerox printer's toner cartridges cost significantly more than the Brother's, they yield considerably more prints, resulting in a lower cost-per-print. However, the Xerox model's connectivity is more of a hassle because you have to buy the wireless adapter separately to use Wi-Fi.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
8.0
Design
Build Quality
Type Printer Only

The Brother HL-L3280CDW feels well-built. It has a sturdy all-plastic body, with solid-feeling hinges and tray. The power cord is removable if you need to replace it. Its design gives you easy access to the toner cartridges, sheet rollers, belt unit, and waste toner box for maintenance. The only complaints are minor, like the display being in a fixed position and the lack of a cover to prevent dust and debris from falling into the output tray at the top. There are grooves on the sides so you can get a good grip when carrying the printer; they're quite handy, as the printer is heavy.

Design
Dimensions
Height 10.8" (27.4 cm)
Width 15.7" (39.9 cm)
Depth 15.8" (40.2 cm)
Height When In Use
10.9" (27.7 cm)
Width When In Use
15.7" (39.9 cm)
Depth When In Use
19.6" (49.9 cm)
Weight
34.0 lbs (15.4 kg)

Here are the advertised measurements for the other variants:

  • HL-L3220CDW/HL-L3240CDW
    • Height: 9.4" (23.9 cm)
    • Width: 15.7" (39.9 cm)
    • Depth: 15.7" (39.9 cm)
    • Weight: 33.5 lbs (15.2 kg)
  • HL-L3295CDW
    • Height: 10.8" (27.4 cm)
    • Width: 15.7" (39.9 cm)
    • Depth: 17.6" (44.6 cm)
    • Weight: 36.8 lbs (16.7 kg)

7.5
Design
Expected Maintenance
Ink Related Maintenance
Not Needed
Drum Unit
A Separate Unit

This printer doesn't need much maintenance. Unlike inkjet printers, there's no risk of clogging if you don't use the printer for a long time. The toner cartridges yield a large number of prints, so you won't need to replace them often unless you print a lot. Replacing the toner cartridges is straightforwardโ€”you can access them by lifting the top of the printer. The drum is a separate unit you'll have to replace, but again, it isn't something youโ€™ll have to do regularly, as it has a lifespan of around 20,000 prints. Having a separate drum is also less wasteful and might cost less in the long run, as, unlike cartridges with an integrated drum, you don't have to throw out the whole cartridge if the drum gets damaged. Also, drums usually last much longer than the toner. At the time of writing, we could only find the drum unit sold in a pack of four, whereas the toner cartridges are available individually. Other parts that will eventually need replacing are the waste toner box (to collect excess toner produced during printing) and the belt unit; both have an estimated lifespan of about 50,000 prints and are widely available through Brother, marketplaces, and third-party sellers. The belt unit is below the toner cartridges, and the waste toner box is below the belt.

For paper jams, you can access the sheet rollers via a panel on the back of the printer or by removing the paper tray. The input tray holds 250 sheets of paper; if you want a bigger input tray capacity to minimize maintenance, you can get the top-end Brother HL-L3295CDW variant, which supports an additional 250-sheet tray (sold separately), bringing the total capacity to 500 sheets.

See the user guide here.

8.0
Design
Display Screen
Display Screen Yes
Display Screen Size
2.6" (6.7 cm)
Touchscreen Yes

The display is reasonably large, and its wide viewing angles make it easy to see whether you're sitting, standing, or off to the side. The lack of tilt and swivel adjustment doesn't affect its usability. Touch input feels responsive, and the interface is user-friendly. The screen's finish picks up a lot of fingerprints, though, which might bother some people.

The HL-L3295CDW variant has the same display, while the HL-L3220CDW and HL-L3240CDW variants have a 1-line monochrome LCD.

8.7
Design
Cartridge
Technology Laser
SuperTank
No
Photo Cartridge
No
Color Yes
Number Of Color Cartridges
3
Black Cartridge Model
TN229BK
Tested Black Page Yield
78 prints
Estimated Black Page Yield
1,482 prints
Color Cartridge Model
TN229C/M/Y
Tested Color Page Yield
57 prints
Estimated Color Page Yield
1,212 prints
Third Party Cartridge
Not Found At Time Of The Review
Ink Type
Toner
High Yield Cartridge
Yes

The regular TN229 toner cartridges yield a large number of prints and won't need regular replacement unless you print a lot. You can get high-yield cartridges; the TN229XL cartridges have an estimated yield of 3,000 black and 2,300 color prints, while the TN229V Value High-yield toner gets you around 3,300 black and 2,530 color prints. There are Super High-Yield cartridges (TN229XXL), which have an estimated yield of 4,500 black and 4,000 color prints; however, they only work with the top-end Brother HL-L3295CDW variant. The starter cartridges that come with the printer have an approximate yield of 1,000 black and 1,000 color prints.

The printer warns you when the toner is low; clicking on the message shows you which cartridge is running out, along with an ad for Brother's ink/toner subscription service. It stops printing entirely when a cartridge is empty and shows you a 'Replace Toner' message followed by instructions on replacing the cartridges.

0
Design
Scanner Features
Scanner
No Scanner
ADF Capacity
N/A
Scan Speed
N/A
Duplex Scanning
No Scanner
Max Flatbed Scan Size
No Scanner
Max ADF Scan Size
No Scanner
Flatbed Hinge Adjustability
N/A
Fax
No
Copy
No
OCR Included
No Scanner

This is a print-only unit.

N/A
Design
Scan Quality
Max Scan Resolution
N/A
Max Scan Color Depth
N/A
Design
In The Box

  • Power cord
  • Documentation
  • Set of starter toner cartridges:
    • 1x Black
    • 1x Cyan
    • 1x Magenta
    • 1x Yellow
  • 4x Drum unit (installed in photo, DR229CL)
  • Not shown (pre-installed):
    • 1x Waste toner box (WT229CL)
    • 1x Belt unit (BU229CL)

Design
Battery
Advertised Battery Life
N/A
Tested Charging Time
N/A

This is a corded printer.

Document
9.5
Document
Black & White Documents
Color Ink Needed For Black & White
No

The print quality of black-and-white documents is outstanding. Text looks sharp, and all of the fine elements are present.

9.5
Document
Color Documents

The print quality of color documents is outstanding. Everything looks sharp and clean, and the colors look vibrant but not oversaturated.

8.1
Document
Cost-Per-Print
Black Cartridge Price
64.46 US$
Color Cartridge Price
209.97 US$
Black-Only Printing Cost
0.043 US$/print
Color Printing Cost
0.173 US$/print
Photo Printing Cost
0.460 US$/print
Ink Subscription
Optional

The cost-per-print is great, as the toner cartridges aren't overly expensive and yield a large number of prints. You'll have to spend extra to replace the drums; however, they don't need regular replacement, as they have an estimated lifespan of 20,000 prints.

8.9
Document
Printing Speed
Black Only Text Document
28 PPM
Color Document
28 PPM
Photo Printing Time
15.0 s
Single Page Out Time (Black Only)
12.0 s
Duplex Printing
Automatic
Input Tray Capacity
250 pages

The print speed varies depending on the model. Here are the advertised print speeds (black and color) for the other variants:

  • HL-L3220CDW: 19 PPM
  • HL-L3240CDW: 27 PPM (same as this model)
  • HL-L3295CDW: 31 PPM

The output tray holds 150 prints; this is the same for all variants. All models have a single-sheet multi-purpose tray except for the top-end Brother HL-L3295CDW variant, which has an increased capacity of 30 sheets. The HL-L3295CDW also supports an additional 250-sheet input tray (sold separately).

Document
Document Printing Sizes
Letter (8.5" x 11") Yes
Legal (8.5" x 14") Yes
Tabloid (11" x 17") No
A6 (105mm x 148mm) Yes
A5 (148mm x 210mm) Yes
A4 (210mm x 297mm) Yes
Max Paper Weight
163 g/mยฒ

Prints come out slightly curled and remain so after they've cooled. If this bothers you, there's a 'Reduce Paper Curl' setting that can help. The posted max paper weight applies to the main input tray and the manual feeder.

The main input tray takes plain (thin or thick) and recycled paper. The multi-purpose tray takes plain paper, recycled paper, bond, envelopes, and glossy paper.

Photo
4.0
Photo
Color Gamut

This printer has a poor color gamut. Its narrow color range makes photos look flat and causes a significant loss of fine details. Color transitions look grainy and patchy, and the printing pattern is clearly visible.

5.5
Photo
Color Accuracy
Average Color dE
9.16

Color accuracy is sub-par. Most colors are visibly inaccurate. This isn't an issue if you just want to add some colors to a document, but it isn't ideal for photo printing.

4.5
Photo
Small Details
Max Print Resolution (DPI)
600 x 2400

This printer is bad at reproducing small details. It has a low print resolution, and like most laser printers, the printing pattern causes a significant loss of fine details.

0
Photo
Photo Printing Sizes
Glossy Paper (4" x 6") No
Glossy Paper (5" x 7") No
Glossy Paper (8" x 10") No
Glossy Paper (8.5" x 11") No
Glossy Paper (13" x 19") No
Borderless Printing
No

Brother specifies in the manual that this printer can print on glossy paper (NewPage Futura Laser Gloss 80 lb Text paper suggested); however, we couldn't find any at the time of writing. As such, we consider the printer incapable of printing on glossy paper.

Mobile App And Connectivity
8.0
Mobile App And Connectivity
Connectivity
Ethernet
Yes
USB Input To Computer
Yes
Wireless Yes
Bluetooth
No
Wi-Fi via Router
Yes
Wi-Fi Direct
Yes
External Storage Support
No
Apple AirPrint
Yes
Mopria Print Service
Yes

The Brother HL-L3220CDW variant doesn't have an Ethernet port. The Brother HL-L3295CDW variant supports NFC (Near-Field Communication), allowing you to connect an NFC-enabled device by tapping it against the printer, and it can also print directly off a USB flash drive.

9.5
Mobile App And Connectivity
Mobile App
Mobile App Yes
App Name Brother Mobile Connect
iOS Yes
Android Yes
Photo (JPEG, PNG)
Android and iOS
PDF
Android and iOS
Microsoft Office Files
Android and iOS
Text Files (TXT)
Android and iOS
Webpages (HTML)
No

Brother's Mobile Connect app is superb. It lets you print, order supplies, manage your toner/ink subscription, access the printer's support page, and perform maintenance tasks. You can print even when you aren't home or close to the printer, though this function requires a Brother account. This app can't print webpages directly, so you'll have to print them from whichever app or browser you use to view them.

Mobile App And Connectivity
OS Compatibility
Windows Fully
macOS Fully
Chrome OS Fully

Installing drivers or apps on Chrome OS and macOS devices is unnecessary. You don't necessarily need to do it on Windows devices to print, but we recommend doing so, as it'll ensure you get access to all the settings and functions. You can get the drivers here.