Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/08/11/review_brother_mfc-620cn/

Brother MFC-620CN multi-function printer

Jack-of-all-trades...

By Trusted Reviews

Posted in Reviews, 11th August 2005 13:48 GMT

Review This Brother All-in-One is more all-in-one than most. Although it has a footprint not much bigger than an A3 sheet of paper, it can print, scan, copy, fax, download your digital photos, answer the phone and make you a nice cup of camomile tea. OK, the tea's just on our wish list, but all the other tasks are within the compass of the MFC-620CN, writes Simon Williams.

Brother MFC-620CNThe low-profile, grey and silver case starts with a flatbed scanner, with a similarly low-profile automatic document feeder (ADF) built into its lid. In front of this is a comprehensive control panel, including a number pad for fax dialing and a 16-character, two-line, backlit LCD display with a four-way touch disc to control menu options.

Directly in front of the LCD display are four buttons for the main functions of photo capture, copy, fax and scan . Down the right-hand side are single-function buttons for colour and mono copies, and job cancel.

Paper feeds in from a removable cartridge that slides in from the front of the device – this is different from earlier Brother multi-function machines which fed paper from a vertical tray at the rear. The paper makes a 180-degree turn to eject directly on top of the cartridge at the front, using a pull-out paper support to hold printed pages.

There's a five-in-one memory card reader fitted under the front lip of the control panel, which can be used for uploading images to your PC, or for printing them out directly.

At the rear of the left-hand side panel is a mains socket and separate connections for the phone line cable and a handset (not supplied). USB 2.0 and 10/100Mbps Ethernet connections are also available but, unusually, they're inside the machine. You have to hinge the scanner unit up to the left to reveal them and feed the cables round from the rear of the device.

You need to lift the scanner unit up to access the ink cartridges, too. The Brother machine uses permanent print heads and the easy-to-fit cartridges supply only ink. This does mean a good few cleaning cycles, particularly if you use the MFC-620CN irregularly.

A software suite is supplied on CD and includes an OCR utility, full fax support and a network administration utility. There's also a copy of Paperport 9SE.

Text print quality on plain paper is fair, though there's some ink spread into the paper nap, and curves and diagonal edges are not that smooth. Graphic colours are bright and well saturated, though there was some speckle in areas of solid colour.

Photo prints are generally clear and smooth, and with the printer's relatively high resolution, the detail is fine and there's little noticeable banding. Unfortunately, selecting the right print quality for a given document isn't that easy with the MFC-620CN as it confusingly has Photo and Best settings. When you directly compare photo prints using each of these settings, the differences are slight, with perhaps slightly more shadow detail in the print completed at Best quality. However, given that a Best print takes 7m 21s to complete, while a Photo print takes 3m 6s, there's very little reason for using Best. Over three minutes for a 5 x 3in print is a long time, compared with other multi-function machines.

A single text and graphics page took 46s to print, and our five-page text print took 1m 40s, giving a speed of just 3ppm, a lot slower than the quoted 20ppm. When it comes to scanning, you can use either the flatbed or the ADF, but neither is particularly quick. It took us 47s to copy a single colour-A4 page manually and it was just a second faster using the feeder.

Although this machine uses the same four ink cartridges as the older MFC-410CN, the print costs have reduced because consumable prices have dropped in the intervening months. Colour cartridges are around £7 a throw, with the black cartridge coming in at £12. Although Brother quotes an own-brand glossy photo paper in the device's manual, we could find no source for this on the Web and so quote PC World's PC Line paper, as before. This has dropped from 37p per sheet to 25p per sheet.

These changes give running costs of 3.13p per mono text page and 38.6p for a colour page at 20 per cent cover. Both these costs are high in comparison to some of the machines from HP and Epson.

Consumables and running costs

Test times (m:s)
5 page text document 01:40
1 page mixed text and graphics 00:46
5 x 3 top quality photo 07:21 best, 03:06 photo
A4 colour copy 00:47 manual, 00:46 ASF
Running costs at street prices inc (ex) VAT
Black cartridge part code LC900BK
Price £11.99 (£10.20)
Colour cartridges part codes LC900C/M/Y
Price £6.99 (£5.95) each
Print head – head life (pages) Lifetime
A4 glossy photo sheet BP60GLA (unavailable), PC Line 26p
Claimed 5% black pages/cart 500
First black ink-out warning 450
Actual 5% black pp/cart 450
Claimed 5% colour pp/cart 400
First colour ink-out warning 428
Actual 20% colour pp/cart 428
Cost/A4 5% black page 3.13p (2.67p)
Cost/A4 20% colour page 38.6p (32.8p)
Noise level (dBA) 56dBA

Verdict

The main advantage of the MFC-620CN is its truly all-in-one approach. To provide all the functions of this Brother machine in a device at this size is quite a feat. Having said that, it doesn't perform any of its tasks particularly well, taking a long time to scan and print and not producing particularly high-quality results. The aphorism ‘Jack of all trades...’ comes to mind.

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Brother MFC-620CN
 
Rating 70%
 
Price £171
 
More info The Brother MFC-620CN site