May 6, 2013 by Sarah Meyer Reads (11,815)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Service & Support
    • 6
    • Print Quality
    • 8
    • Design / Ease of Use
    • 8
    • Performance / Print Speed
    • 8
    • Features
    • 6
    • Operational Costs
    • 8
    • Total Score:
    • 7.33
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

Setting up the HL-3170cdw
The HL-3170cdw is simple to set up since it’s a single function color printer. Unpack, prepare toner cartridges, load paper, plug in and turn on, print a test page and select the connection type.

We chose to set up the HL-3170cdw over a wireless connection, which can be performed several ways. I chose to set up the wireless using the control panel on the printer but you can also use a USB cord or the one-push setup using WPS or AOSS (if you have those specific type of routers).

If you aren’t a fan of wireless, the HL-3170cdw can also be set up over an Ethernet connection.

Once you decide how you’ll set up the HL-3170cdw, you can pop in the provided driver CD. The wizard will take you through all the necessary steps, and then you’ll be ready to print!

Ease of Use

As I’ve mentioned previously, the HL-3170cdw is a single function color laser printer so its primary objective is to print quickly, reliably and efficiently. Which is why I’m glad Brother chose to include only the bare bones (the Brother Status Monitor) when it comes to software.

However, for those that want creative options or need support, Brother offers the Creative Center and Solutions Center. These are accessed via the web so there are still no unnecessary downloads involved.

If you want to access printer settings, configuration, maintenance information, admin settings, network configuration, etc., you can use the embedded web server (provided you set it up on a network).

The embedded web server grants access to all four tabs – general, print, administrator and network – until the administrator configures a password. Once a password has been selected, everyday users can only access the general tab; the latter three tabs are restricted for use by the administrator. The password will also grant access to the setting lock security feature.

Users can use the printer preferences menu to access the printer settings for individual jobs or the status monitor for real time status updates on the printer and consumables. Secure Print, one of my favorite Brother features because of its simplicity, is a great tool for keeping documents private or for simply making sure someone else doesn’t walk away with your print outs.

Here’s how it works: open the print preference menu, select the advanced tab and click Secure Print. Then simply input a unique password and/or username (you can use the default computer name) and hit print. The data is sent to the printer.

When you head over to the HL-3170cdw, you’ll notice the data light is flashing. Press the Secure Print quick key on the control panel and then select the username you chose. Next, select your job (if there is more than one), enter your password, select print and choose how many copies of your document you’d like.

As far as standalone functionality, the HL-3170cdw has a single line back lit display with a minimal control panel so it can be difficult to navigate the menus for users at first. I wouldn’t consider it a huge issue as there isn’t much need to use the control panel on the HL-3170cdw unless using the Secure Print feature mentioned earlier.

This brings me to my one issue with the HL-3170cdw, the lack of a front side USB port. Brother has included it on past models with nearly identical control panels, including the less exciting HL-3075cw. Brother did not include it on the new HL-6180dw which makes me wonder if this is a new trend.

Print Speeds and Quality Tests
Brother advertises print speeds up to 23 ppm for the HL-3170cdw and I found that to be accurate during our testing. When printing our 40-page black and white text document in normal mode, print speeds were around 23 ppm consistently. Coming out of deep sleep mode, the HL-3170cdw took about 15 seconds to warm up, bringing down the print speeds slightly before rebounding.

I saw no difference in speed when printing color documents; the first page out was just as quick – around 10 seconds – with an average print speed of 23 ppm.

The print quality was good when printing in both black and white and color. I printed the full color brochure provided by Brother on the HL-3170cdw and scanned it in for viewing purposes below. The colors were bright and varied and the text was crisp. One tip: the better the paper, the crisper the images.

The HL-3170cdw will slow down when using the auto duplexing feature. During our tests, the HL-3170cdw printed 4 ppm (8 pages doubles sided) taking just over five minutes to print our 40 page test document.

A toner saver mode is offered and there was a slight quality difference, but the overall results were still good.



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