Brother MFC-6890CDW - MFP printer review

Brother is looking to make A3 printing accessible and affordable for businesses, but has it had to cut corners as a consequence?

Both trays can take paper sizes up to A3+ when fully expanded. The printer can't automatically detect which paper size you're using in each tray, so you'll have to set this manually. Fortunately, this is easy to do using the built-in menus.

The MFP doesn't have a web interface, which is a serious disadvantage, although Brother's Windows and Mac ControlCenter3 utility lets you configure many of the printer's settings remotely. After some initial difficulty in finding the printer's default password access' the utility proved to be a helpful addition to the MFP's built-in menus, although it doesn't provide access to all settings.

You can use it to set up profiles to scan directly to a designated PC or FTP server at the touch of a button, configure an admin email address for the delivery of error reports and add numbers to your quick-dial fax list, but not all print and copy settings can be adjusted. For instance, we were unable to change the default paper tray.

The scanner has a maximum optical scan resolution of 1,200 x 2,400dpi, although the highest optical resolution that can be selected using the Windows driver is 1,200 x 1,200dpi. The scanner interface is easy to use, and conveniently remains open between scans, but it's hardly overburdened with features. It can't auto-detect paper size, so you either have to crop your images manually or select from a pull-down menu of common sizes ranging from business card to A3.

Scans were sharp and clearly defined, and colours were generally accurate, although dark shades tended to merge into each other. An A3 scan at 300dpi took 44 seconds and an A4 scan at the same resolution took 33 seconds.

The printer comes with a set of standard ink cartridges, which yield 450 black and pages and 325 pages each of cyan, magenta, and yellow. High yield cartridges make for the best print costs, though, and are economically priced at under 9 for each of the three 750 page colour cartridges and less than 17 for the 900 page black ink tank.

Based on ISO/IEC 24711 page yield figures, this gives us A4 print costs of 1.9p per mono page and 5.4p per page of mixed colour and black printing. That's reasonably good value when compared to most current print costs for both inkjet and laser printers aimed at SMEs.

K.G. Orphanides

K.G. is a journalist, technical writer, developer and software preservationist. Alongside the accumulated experience of over 20 years spent working with Linux and other free/libre/open source software, their areas of special interest include IT security, anti-malware and antivirus, VPNs, identity and password management, SaaS infrastructure and its alternatives.

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