Just above the print carriage output tray is a pair of memory card slots, supporting CompactFlash (not MicroDrive), SecureDigital, Memory Stick and xD formats. You can also hook up a digital camera using the PictBridge port to the left of the memory card slots.
Extending the cassettes for A3 paper needs more desk space up front
When you plug in a card or attach a camera, you can browse through the images as chunky thumbnails on a colour touchscreen status window. Alternatively, you can print out contact sheets and then use the status window to choose which images to print at full size. This status window is great: we forced a printer jam whereupon the status window led us through the steps to clear it, just like on an expensive, high-end workgroup MFD. Incidentally, there is a rear exit door on the printer to help clear any true paper jams.
The scanning plate is located under a lid on top of the unit. Although the glass plate is sized 297 x 431.8mm, the maximum scanning width is apparently 291mm. This means you cannot actually scan the entire surface of an A3 original, or indeed the full height of an A4 sheet if you load it portrait orientation. Still, having all that almost-A3 area is so versatile that we feel silly to quibble about a few millimetres.
The lid incorporates an automatic document feeder (ADF), which is essential for making quick multisheet copies and unattended faxes. This particular ADF is a bit limited, however. It cannot handle two-sided copies/faxes, for example, and its motor reduces the maximum optical resolution of scans to 600dpi. On the other hand, it is capable of holding more than the typical number of sheets – up to 50, in fact.
Large, blue-lit buttons on the main panel of the printer make it easy to switch between fax, scan, copy and photo capture modes. There are lots of other buttons too, but the status window explains everything clearly. Even the fax setup and operation tasks are straightforward, while the status window leads you step-by-step through tricky manual processes, such as duplex scanning for faxing double-sided sheets.
A PictBridge port and card slots offers support for most digital cameras
There are six quick-dial fax buttons that can double up with a Shift button to offer 12 presets. That’s not a lot of presets, to be honest, and Shift buttons can lead to people faxing the wrong people out of confusion on how the Shift works. In operation, the MFC-6890CDW is mostly quiet. After the initial clatter of loading a sheet of paper, the repetitive movement of the printhead across the carriage produces no more than a mild wheezing sound.
A3 at this price?
I can forgive quite a lot for A3 scanning and printing at this price. I've had an MFC-6690CW (pretty well the same thing, no fax, and only about £250) for several months, in a small office, and it performs as the review says. It's not perfect, but when comparing the cost of standalone A3 inkjet printers and scanners, this is a real bargain. Okay the ink costs an arm and a leg, (and I daren't risk the cheapo 'compatible' cartidges, after a few earlier problems on other printers), but the solution I've adopted is to have a trusty mono laser (with duplex) for large documents, and only use the inkjet when I really want colour and/or A3.
...and how about a comparative review of the quality of 'compatible' cartridges sometime?
Running costs should be able to be reduced with a ciss assuming the carts/printer has no "DIM".