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GP consulting room printer earns top marks

Printers are just as important as the PC that drives them. Dr David Matthews tests one for GPs.

Printers are generally considered to be one of the most un-exciting bits of IT kit.

People become really enthusiastic about the 'fastest processor' or 'sharpest, biggest flat screens', but not a printer. Until they go wrong, that is.

To me, that makes them just as important as the PC.

Brother supplied one of its new 5200 range of mono laser printers - specifically designed for GPs - for review. The HL-5240 is aimed at the consulting room and came supplied with the optional LT-5300 lower tray unit.

Brother has designed the trays so that FP10 comp paper is handled without the need for any adapters. Two trays allow the printer to be used with plain A4 paper and FP10s without fiddling about feeding paper into slots or hoppers.

Compatibility

The HL-5240 is compatible with EMIS, In Practice Systems and iSoft GP software.

Brother claims to be the leading provider of printers to GP surgeries, with more than 70 per cent of the market.

A recent publication, which sets out the IT in general practice agreement reached between the GPC and the NHS Confederation, specified that printers that enable printing of prescriptions and other documents are core components within IT. The HL-5240 with LT-5300 fits the bill perfectly.

The printer was very easy to set up, but be careful to read the instructions about swapping the LT-5300 paper tray with the tray supplied with the printer, otherwise it will not print from the lower tray.

Once I had unpacked and installed all the components and the electrical connections had been made, I popped the driver CD-ROM into the PC. Setting up the driver is easy with the use of a menu screen.

After setting up the printer in Vision, using the new Vision 'advanced printing', I was up and running.

The printer has a compact footprint, but is fairly tall with the lower tray installed.

It lived up to its claims and took the non-standard prescription paper without any trouble. Print quality is good on both FP10 and A4 paper.

However, noise levels are higher than I am used to with my Kyocera printer.

A flap at the front gives access to the drum/toner unit, which is easy to remove and replace. As the printer uses a separate toner and drum it should be reasonably economical to use.

During the few weeks I have used the HL-5240, it has performed perfectly.

I have had no paper jams, so cannot tell you how difficult it might be to extricate crumpled paper.

Print speed is quoted at up to 28 pages per minute and the more important first page print time is quoted as 8.5 seconds. In use, the time taken from clicking print to taking the paper out of the printer was up to 35 seconds for a prescription. I would have expected a newer printer to be faster.

However, the Brother HL-5240 ticks all the boxes in suitability for a GP consulting room printer and should be considered by anyone who purchases equipment for GPs.

- Dr Matthews is a GP in Thames Ditton, Surrey

WHAT IT COSTS TO BUY AND RUN
- Brother 'entry level' HL-5240 £199 plus VAT. Also available for
£160 incl VAT at dabs.com
- Brother LT-5300 lower tray £125 plus VAT. Also available for
£124.66 incl VAT at dabs.com
- Brother DR-3100 drum unit (lasts approx 25,000 pages) £99.11 at
dabs.com
- Brother TN-3170 toner £61.08 at dabs.com

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