Thursday, October 14, 2010

Little Brother

The Brother HL-2140 is an incredible writer's bargain for as little as $49.95.
Away back in 1988, when I was working on What's That Pig Outdoors?, I bought a Hewlett-Packard Laserjet II printer. It cost $1,650. It had been on the market for a year, having appeared at a list price of $2,395.

I loved the thing -- it was built like an Abrams tank, weighed about as much as one, and soldiered on for years and years without breaking. I don't remember exactly when it finally died in the early 2000s, but none of its various replacements (H-Ps and Brothers) lasted half as long.

Last week my latest Brother, a big and heavy HL-1850 bought for about $250 in 2004, finally went belly up. It would have cost about the same to fix, so I junked it.

And now I have a Brother HL-2140 "personal laser printer." It came from a New York online merchant for $65, free shipping, no sales tax. Sixty-five bucks! I could hardly believe it.

It gets better. Last week Staples, the office supply house, was discounting the little Brother for $49.95. (The standard price from most sources is $119.)

Good thing that the tools of a mystery novelist are becoming cheaper, because that profession doesn't pay as well as it used to. Not that it ever paid much.


  1. How long do those cheap printers last, anyway? If it breaks tomorrow, is it a bargain?

  2. The printer manufacturers snare you with the printer and screw you with the cartridges. Staples is selling TN360 cartridges for $69! That's almost $20 more than the printer itself!

  3. I don't know how long those printers last, but judging from the 211 user reviews on (more than half of them 5 star), quite a while. A friend who has bought four for his family over the last couple of years says all are going strong.

    As for the cartridges, they're available for as low as $24 if you look 'em up on the Internet and order online. Some folks refill their cartridges for even less.

  4. Oh my god, you also had an HP LaserJet II? My FATHER had one, and I am still mad at him for not letting me know he was throwing it out a couple of years ago even though it worked perfectly well. Now that was a great, great machine.

    And as it happens, we also have this same Brother HL-2140 printer! We paid a bit more than you, $89 or something like that, earlier in the summer, but it's working just fine and is small enough to fit behind the TV, out of sight, but next to the router. Great minds think alike! May our printers print for many years and pages.

  5. The printers we have at my college are HP 48″ ( thought but they might be 44 since thats what everyone seems to be talking about) also a company i worked for had an identical 48″ (i thought) model. loved it. the wider format allows you to print much more quickly since you only have to print the short length. the quality seemed to be ok but we are architects not artists.