Brother today will introduce the HL-2040 monochrome laser printer, which replaces the company's long-running HL-1440 in the retail market starting later this month.
The HL-2040 will retain its older cousin's $149 suggested retail, said Jeff Sandler, Brother's senior printer product manager, adding it could occasionally be promotionally priced as low as $99. This price point will make it ideal for consumers or SO/HO users, he said.
“Consumers want an option to using their inkjet for everyday plain printing. This desire is what is sustaining the monochrome market,” he said, adding that their desire is not purely sticker-price driven.
The unit has a new industrial design with a silver and black finish, 20 page-per-minute printing, an internal 250-page paper tray, and is about 40 percent smaller than its predecessor.
The HL-2040 will be joined at CES this week by the step-up HL-2070N, which will hit stores in February with a suggested retail of $229. The 2070N incorporates 16MB of memory, twice what the HL-2040 offers, and is network-ready with a 10/100 Ethernet port. Sandler said Brother decided not to make the unit wireless because of the cost involved and the fact that most consumers with a Wi-Fi home network will simply connect the printer to their router, thus making it available to everyone on the network. This model has the same desktop footprint as the entry-level piece, but its color scheme is basically black, compared with the HL-2040's silver appearance.
Consumables for the new printers are $114 for a new drum, which will need replacing after about 12,000 prints, and $59 for a toner cartridge. While these prices might seem high compared to what it costs to replace inkjet cartridges, Sandler said today's laser printer shopper is savvy enough to understand the long-term cost savings associated with laser technology, and to look at cost-per-print and not get suckered in by the initial low entry price inkjet offers.
This knowledge is helping Brother expand out of its traditional office superstore power base and become a bigger player at the CE and PC superstores, Sandler said.
While Brother has already set its color laser lineup, Sandler said, that segment of the industry is having a profound impact on monochrome printers. With prices now below $500 for color printers, vendors are being forced to squeeze even more price performance out of their monochrome models, he said.
“Low-cost color has collapsed the monochrome market,” Sandler said.
However, Brother expects color pricing to more or less remain in its current position. This should help keep monochrome pricing stable.
“There should not be any massive decline in color pricing. It just is not in the manufacturer's best interest to do so,” he said.