Brother MFC-9970CDW multifunction laser printer
Brother MFC-9970CDW review: A 5-inch color touchscreen enhances this small-office or workgroup machine
- Wireless networking
- Cheap toner
- Dark scan quality
Fast output, economical toner, and Wi-Fi are the highlights of this small-office and workgroup model. Photo quality is acceptable.
Price$ 1,599.00 (AUD)
The Brother MFC-9970CDW color laser multifunction printer tackles the full laundry list of small-office and workgroup print/copy/scan/fax needs, outdoing every competitor in its price range (US$700 as of July 18, 2011) and offering cheap toner to boot. The only thing wrong with this picture is, well, the picture: Its photo quality is middling, and its color scans can be overly dark.
Detailed paper-installation instructions make setup easy; the included CD walks you through the process with sufficient hand-holding. You can find the documentation in PDF form on the CD, although Brother encourages you to look at the latest version online. In addition to USB and ethernet connections, the MFC-9970CDW has Wi-Fi, still a rarity among color laser MFPs.
The legal-size scanner is a high-end touch on a machine that's already well equipped.
Paper handling includes both a 250-sheet main input tray and a 50-sheet multipurpose tray. An optional 500-sheet input tray costs $250 from Brother, but I found lower prices online. The MFC-9970CDW prints and scans in duplex (two-sided), the latter via the 35-sheet automatic document feeder. The 150-sheet output tray is adequately sized, but it skulks, cavelike, underneath the control panel, making output a bit hard to reach -- or maybe I'm just paranoid about putting my hand into small, dark openings.
The slanted front control panel sports clearly labeled and organized buttons, with a 5-inch color LCD that makes navigating menus very intuitive. The MFP also has a front USB port.
The MFC-9970CDW gets the job done quickly, if not always perfectly. In our speed tests, printing mostly plain text with a few simple grayscale graphics, the machine posted an impressive rate of 15.7 pages per minute on the PC and a slightly better result on the Mac (15.8 ppm). Snapshot-size photos printed from the PC at above-average rates (3.2 ppm overall). One of our hardest tests, a high-resolution, full-size color photo printed on the Mac, exited at a swift rate of 1.3 ppm. PDF prints, as well as copies and scans, were also fast. The Oki MC561 is even faster, but the MFC-9970CDW bests it in other respects.
The output quality is more pedestrian, but still satisfactory for most mainstream-office use. Text and monochrome copies looked good. Color images showed yellowish and sometimes grainy or blotchy qualities. Color scans disappointed us the most, looking very dark.
Standard-size supplies ship with the MFC-9970CDW. Replacement costs are refreshingly affordable -- especially when you see that the like-priced Xerox WorkCentre 6505/DN is charging significantly more than average. The MFC-9970CDW's standard-size black cartridge costs $63 and lasts 2500 pages, or 2.5 cents per page. Each 1500-page color costs $70, or 4.7 cents per page. A four-color page would cost 16.7 cents. The high-yield supplies are even better, working out to 1.9 cents per page for black (the $117 cartridge lasts 6000 pages) and 3.6 cents per color, per page (each $125 cartridge lasts 3500 pages). A four-color page would cost a low 12.7 cents.
Brother's MFC-9970CDW stands out from other models in its price range because it hits certain sweet spots -- speed, features, and cost per page. Although it could stand to improve in photo quality and especially scan quality, it might offer enough bells and whistles for many small offices to overlook the shortcomings.
Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.
Join the PC World newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 HP Stream 11 laptop
- 2 Acer Chromebook 11 (CB3-111)
- 3 Asus Zenbook UX303LN Ultrabook
- 4 Samsung's Galaxy Alpha review: A peek into the Galaxy S6
- 5 Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro hybrid Ultrabook
Best Deals on GoodGearGuide
Latest News Articles
- Staples says hack may have compromised 1 million-plus payment cards
- Judge questions evidence on whether NSA spying is too broad
- Three ways enterprise software is changing
- T-Mobile to pay $90M for unauthorized charges on customers' bills
- Companies battle for control of Italy's national fiber network
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.