The catch in my love affair with the Brother 2170W Black & White Wireless Laser Printer

image I adore my Brother HL-2140W Wireless Personal Laser Printer. 

For years I used a slow HP Laserjet 4M that would jam on me or chew up toner cartridges.  Then one day, I went hunting for a black & white WIRELESS laser printer.  Something not too extravagant but anything that WASN’T inkjet because inkjet is the quickest way to make documents that look like a 6th grader produced them.  Heaven forbid you get them damp or drop a bead of water on them.

I discovered the wonderful Brother HL-2140W.  It cranks out 23 pages per minute and it’s cheap as dirt at $109.  It’s never jammed or failed on me and it’s got both wired and wireless interfaces on it making it super easy use for laptop users and it’s fidelity is perfect for customer printouts or just the quick “map & address” printout before you hit the road.

Even better, Windows 7 will autodetect it on the network if you search for wireless printers and it’ll autoinstall the correct driver on your system.  So cool, it’s disgusting. 

So what’s the problem?

Well, it turns out that the device will tend to report that “toner is low” early.  It does this by shining a light through holes in the toner cartridge.  Normally this isn’t a problem however when it declares that the toner is “empty”, the printer STOPS WORKING unlike most other printers.

What’s worse is that we all know, there’s usually a little toner left in the cartridge but in the case of the 2170W, there’s usually a LOT.  People online report being ‘stopped’ at 1000 pages printed despite having enough toner in the cartridge to be able to go another 500 pages.

HOWTO:  Use the remaining toner in a supposed “empty” Brother toner cartridge

It turns out that according to some online reports I found, there is a clear plastic circle at each end of the toner cartridge. The printer shines a light through to see how full the toner is. Simply cover one of them with a piece of opaque tape, and the printer will think that the toner is full. I’ve already gotten 1500+ pages out of the starter toner that was "empty" at 983, with no difference in printed quality.

So yeah – that sucks.  But still, if you can get 50% more printed pages out of a toner cartridge that reads “empty” that’s pretty f’ing good.

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4 Responses to The catch in my love affair with the Brother 2170W Black & White Wireless Laser Printer

  1. J says:

    Hi there. I got the Low Toner light and then it stopped working. Thanks for the tape trick. I tried it and my printer still doesnt work. My printer looks fine and none of the lights come on when I reboot but when i try sending a job to the printer, it fails. What am I doing wrong? I taped one hole, both holes, and finally removed all the tape. Still the same printing.

  2. J says:

    oh yeah. I used black electrical tape. not sure if that makes a difference..

  3. Kurt says:

    Perhaps you missed the word "opaque" in my post, as in "Simply cover one of them with a piece of OPAQUE tape" and the printer will thin the toner is full." [grin] I used traditional blurry but translucent scotch tape.

  4. cb says:

    I had to double up the scotch tape, put two layers on each side before the my 2170w would print again.

    Thanks for the tip! My docs are still printing dark black and believe i have a lot of life left here.

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