Our print quality tests reveal that output is reliably excellent on plain paper and coated stock alike. Everyday office printouts at the ‘Normal’ setting were razor sharp down to the tiniest detail, while 1200dpi image output to glossy card was first class.
The ‘almost-A3’ scanner produces impressive results
However, the limitations on which paper cassettes could be used for quality printing were extremely annoying. Photo paper, borderless prints and duplex can only be handled from the top cassette, Tray 1. As well as having to keep swapping stacks of paper back and forth between the two cassettes, the frequent error messages produced by the print driver whenever we tried to use the ‘wrong’ cassette almost drove us to violence. What’s the point of having two paper cassettes if one of them doesn’t support the device’s own features?
As expected with an inkjet, print speeds are consistently slow. A black-only A4 office document took about 20 seconds to print; 10 copies of that document took 10 times as long. Colour A4 copies take about 40 seconds per printout. Duplex printing is painfully slow, more than doubling the print time. 10 copies of a double-sided printout can take more than eight minutes to complete. A high-resolution image printed to a single sheet of glossy A4 photo paper also took more than eight minutes.
The scanner performance was surprisingly impressive. Most MFD manufacturers try to cut corners with the scanner, but Brother has built a pretty damn good 1200 x 2400dpi device into the MFC-6890CDW. Colour copies are top-notch and image scans are objectively good. Our modulation transfer function (MTF) lab test, which uses testcards and histograms to measure the capability of the scan sensors against interference by signal noise, gave an overall result of 0.67 (on a scale between 0 and 1). Cheap scanners rarely achieve higher than 0.4, while anything above 0.7 would be considered ‘high-end’.
The MFC-6890CDW is a fine MFD for a small office, and a fantastic one for a home user. It is extremely well featured, from the wireless connection to the duplex printing, and of course its wonderful A3 scan/print support. Our only significant criticisms concern the inability of the ADF to scan in duplex and the frustration that the best print features are not supported by Tray 2. Beyond that, just remember that inkjets do not suit all offices: they are slow and potentially expensive to run. ®
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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".