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Brother MFC-6890CDW review

Kat Orphanides
13 Aug 2009
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
273
inc VAT

It's cheap to run and relatively cheap to buy, but poor print quality and speeds mean we can't recommend it.

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Specifications

Brother's MFC-6890CDW inkjet printer is designed to provide a busy home office with production-quality printing and scanning.

In addition to A3+ printing, scanning and faxing, it has a recommended monthly duty cycle of 2,000 pages, a total paper capacity of 350 sheets and a 50-sheet ADF for faxing and scanning multi-page documents. There's an automatic duplexer, but we were annoyed to find that there's no duplex scanner, so we had to flip the page manually when we copied two-sided documents.

It's easy to connect to, with a choice of USB, Ethernet and 802.11b/g wireless networking. There's also a PictBridge USB port, allowing images to be printed from and scanned to flash drives. The 4.2in colour touchscreen has large, colourful onscreen buttons, although scrolling through menus can be fiddly. There's no web interface, although Brother's ControlCenter3 utility lets you configure many settings remotely, such as direct scanning locations and quick-dial fax numbers. However, not all print and copy settings can be adjusted. For instance, we were unable to change the default paper tray.

The MFC-6890CDW has two paper trays. Only one of these can handle photo paper, borderless prints and duplexing, and it holds just 100 sheets of paper. The other tray can hold 250 sheets of standard A4, but can only make single-sided prints on normal paper. Both trays can take paper sizes up to A3+ when fully expanded, but you'll have to set their paper size manually.

Print quality was usable but unimpressive. Mono text at Normal quality was fuzzy around the edges, while fast draft text was extremely pale and suitable only for proofing a document before printing it properly. Photo quality was rather better, with sharp definition and solid colours, although pale shades had a visible magenta tint.

The MFC-6890CDW's biggest problem is its poor print speeds. Even pale draft prints emerged at only 7.3ppm, while standard-quality mono text documents printed at 4.4ppm. Colour prints were also sluggish at 2.1ppm, while a borderless A3 poster on photographic paper took a massive 40 minutes and 35 seconds.

The printer is reasonably inexpensive to run. Using high yield cartridges, we got print costs of 1.9p per mono page and 5.4p per page of mixed colour and black printing. We also calculated that a full poster-sized A3 photo print would cost around £2 and that a 6x4in photo print would cost around 47p, both including Brother's Innobella glossy paper.

The scanner's maximum optical resolution is 1,200x2,400dpi but, as with other Brother models we've seen, the driver limits you to square resolutions; 1,200x1,200dpi in this case. Its interface is easy to use and remains open between scans, but lacks advanced 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. Scans were sharp and clearly defined, and colours were generally accurate. An A3 scan at 300dpi took 44 seconds and an A4 scan at the same resolution took 33 seconds.

Its slow print speeds and mediocre quality mean we can't recommend the MFC-6890CDW. However, Brother is the only manufacturer that currently makes A3 inkjet MFPs. Instead, we recommend buying a good A3 inkjet, such as HP's Photosmart Pro B8550 plus a separate A3 scanner. Such a combination will take up lots of space, but it's the only option if image quality is key.