Setting up the HL-6180dw
Brother includes a Quick Setup Guide as the jumping off point for the HL-6180dw’s setup and installation. The first few steps are basic: unpack, load paper, turn on the printer, set the language and decide on how you want to connect the HL-6180dw.
I chose the wireless setup and since the HL-6180dw didn’t come with a USB cable, I went ahead and setup the wireless using the control panel. However, you can setup the wireless connection during the CD wizard by plugging in the printer via a temporary USB cable (Brother’s recommended install).
The control panel setup is easy: select network, then WLAN, then setup wizard, then enable WLAN. The printer will then search for your network, confirm it’s correct and apply your network key. The printer will then print a test page confirming the printer is now setup over the wireless network.
After this, pop in the provided installation CD to download drivers and software. Select language and then hit install printer driver. The wizard will automatically begin with users needing to confirm the connection type and printer on the network. Once the installation is complete, users can use to enable the status monitor, software updates and the network correction repair tool.
For advanced users, you can install additional drivers and utilities using the provided installation CD; I just went the basic installation package for the purposes of this review.
Ease of Use
The HL-6180dw is single function monochrome laser printer with the primary objective to print quickly, reliably and efficiently. So it’s easy to imagine why Brother chose to include only the bare bones (the Brother Status Monitor) when it comes to software.
However, for those of you who want creative options or need support, Brother includes desktop icons (that can easily be recycled) to their Creative Center and Solutions Center.
And if you want 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 is made up of four tabs: general, print, administrator and network and during the first login it asked me to configure a password. Once you’ve selected a password, the latter three tabs are restricted for general users and can only be used by the administrator. The password will also grant access to the setting lock security feature.
Users can also 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. You can also access Secure Print, one of my favorite Brother features because of it’s simplicity.
Here’s how it works: if you want to print a confidential or sensitive documents/materials to the networked printer, you can open the print preference menu, select the advanced tab and click Secure Print. Then simply input a unique password and/or user name (you can use the default computer name) and hit print. The data is sent to the printer.
When you head over to the HL-6180dw, 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-6180dw 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 (aka it was slightly difficult for me). But after a few tries I got the hang of the navigation and I wouldn’t consider it a huge issue as there isn’t much need to use the control panel on the HL-6180dw unless using the Secure Print feature mentioned earlier.
Which leads me to my final point: where’s the front side USB port? Brother has included it on past models with nearly identical control panels unless perhaps they thought adding a front side USB port made navigation too difficult.
Print Speeds and Quality
A big selling point for the Brother HL-6180dw is the advertised print speeds up to 42 pages per minute (ppm) and I found that to be accurate during our standard print tests. The HL-6180dw printed a 120-page black and white text document (our typical 40-page test document tripled) in under three minutes with a first page out in about 8 seconds and average print speeds of 42 ppm.
The HL-6180dw offers automatic duplexing. Duplexing speeds were good albeit slower than single sided speeds; we printed our entire 40-page text document in two minutes with an average first page out in about 11 seconds and print speeds of about 10 ppm (20 double sided).
You can also print draft quality prints using the toner saver mode. The toner saver quality was very similar, with only a slight difference in the boldness of the text. I’m also not sure how much toner you would actually save using the toner saver mode but in the same context, users could print a term paper, contract or newsletter in toner saver mode and feel comfortable with the professionalism. As you can see below, it’s really hard to tell the difference between the two, especially after I scanned them in.
I had zero paper jam or paper draw issues to report when testing the HL-6180dw. For uses worried about paper curl, you can select an option to reduce paper curl but it will slow down the print speed slightly (closer to 40 ppm).