Brother International (Aust) MFC-5840CN
- Great feature set
- Disappointing text quality, poor photo printing, slow printing
The Brother MFC-5840CN is good value for a networked MFP, but slow speeds and middling print quality limit its usefulness in an office setting.
Price$ 429.00 (AUD)
Priced quite modestly, the Brother MFC-5840CN offers a host of features perfect for office tasks. Besides offering built-in networking, the unit allows you to drop 35 sheets into its automatic document feeder, or lift the cover to scan larger documents, such as books. Dual paper trays permit you to load different types of print media in each--say, 250 sheets of plain paper in the lower drawer and photo paper in the flimsy upper cassette. The fax machine can send colour documents. There are even memory card slots for digital photographers, but there's no PictBridge port for printing directly from a digital camera.
The clearly laid-out control panel is built around a backlit two-line LCD. The software package includes ScanSoft's useful PaperPort document management suite.
The MFC-5840CN's four inks come in individual cartridges. Though the inks are all dye-based, text printing is dark. Nevertheless, considering that this is an office-oriented MFP, we were disappointed with text quality: lettering looked spidery, small fonts disappeared into fuzz, and white horizontal lines appeared in the solid parts of large characters. Blocks of closely spaced lines blurred together in our line art test, and we saw lots of cloudy horizontal banding.
Photos printed on plain paper looked dull and washed out, producing grey skin tones, and they showed some of the most intense banding we've seen. Photos printed on glossy paper looked bright, with a slight (but not unpleasant) yellow-green cast. Fine details were evident even in shadows, and colour transitions blended smoothly. Scan quality was adequate, but didn't stand out from that of competing MFPs.
The Brother ran slowly across the board. Text printed at a sluggish 3.4 pages per minute during our tests--far below the 6.2ppm average we saw for eight other MFPs we tested in June 2005. Colour graphics emerged at a snail's pace of 1.1 ppm. And the MFC-5840CN also took 30 seconds to scan a 4" x 5" photo at 100 dpi. Copying a page of text took 25 seconds, only a couple of seconds slower than the average of the group we tested in June.
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I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
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