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Brother MFC-L8850CDW review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £637
inc VAT

Brother's MFC-L8850CDW is a good colour laser MFP, but we'd go for a high-end inkjet alternative


Technology: Single-pass colour laser, Maximum print resolution: 2,400x600dpi, 1,200×1,200dpi (24-bit): 1,200×2,400dpi, Dimensions (HxWxD): 530x490x526mm, Weight: 30.2kg, Maximum paper size: A4/legal

Colour laser multifunction peripherals (MFPs) are never beautiful, but the clunkiest thing about Brother’s MFC-L8850CDW is its name – we challenge you to remember it after a drink. All those initials hint at this MFC’s high specification: Brother says it can print mono or colour pages at 30 pages per minute (ppm). It supports wired and wireless networks, and can make single or double-sided (duplex) prints, faxes, scans and copies. There’s a USB port for direct scanning or printing, while everything is controlled through a large colour touchscreen.

^ Like most network printers, you can administer the MFC-L8850CDW through a web interface

It takes two people to lift the MFC-L8850CDW, but it’s not as big as you might expect, thanks to a scanner that’s neatly integrated into the body of the printer. The automatic document feeder (ADF) has room for 50 sheets, while the scanner hinges extend upwards to allow for thick originals. The only downside to the compact design is that the low-slung scanner bed can make it fiddly to retrieve paper from the printer’s 150-sheet output tray. We had a similar issue with the ADF’s output, which doesn’t have an indentation to let your fingers under scanned paper.

Touchscreen controls have improved massively in recent years, and this MFP’s control panel is a good example. The 12.3cm screen displays clear and chunky icons laid out in an intuitive menu, and the panel surrounding it displays touch-sensitive buttons only when they’re relevant – for example showing numeric keys when you need to enter a fax number or the code to release a secure print job. It’s an easy system to use.

^ Print jobs can be secured with a simple code, and retrieved by entering this on the printer

This MFP has a quick scanner, needing just nine seconds to preview an A4 sheet and only 10 to scan it at 300dpi. It was quite slow to start printing, taking 17 seconds to produce a first page of text, but quick thereafter, reaching 23.8ppm on our 25-page test. Unusually, it was even faster on our mixed colour graphics test, managing a very impressive 24.4ppm. Copy speeds were similarly quick, with single colour copies taking only 14 seconds, and 10 colour pages only 33 seconds.

^ Brother’s scan interface is simple to use

All round it’s impressively fast, but it’s a shame that the large screen doesn’t display a page count for copies or a progress meter for multi-page prints. While not especially loud, we noticed a small amount of vibration transmitted to the work surface during printing – we wouldn’t want to share a desk with this device. We’ve got no major gripes about the quality of our results, but while photocopies were very good, scans were a touch softly focused, and we could occasionally see half-toning patterns in colour prints.

^ Maximum resolution is 2,400x600dpi – plenty for colour laser graphics

This MFP uses the same consumables as Brother’s HL-L8350CDW laser printer , which means that running costs are reasonable, especially at less than 7p for the colour portion of a page. With decent results, impressive speeds and fair running costs, this is a good colour laser MFP, but we’d buy the HP Officejet Pro X576dw inkjet instead: it’s as fast or faster in most tests, and much cheaper to run.

TechnologySingle-pass colour laser
Maximum print resolution2,400x600dpi
1,200×1,200dpi (24-bit)1,200×2,400dpi
Number of colours (cartridges)4 (4)
Standard interfacesUSB, Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n, USB host
Optional interfacesNone
Dimensions (HxWxD)530x490x526mm
Duty cycle (pages per month)60,000 pages (maximum), 4,000 pages (recommended)
Paper handling
Maximum paper sizeA4/legal
Maximum paper weight163gsm
Standard paper trays (capacity)2 (300)
Maximum paper trays (capacity)3 (800)
Automatic Document Feeder capacity50
Supported operating systemsWindows XP or later, Mac OS X 10.7.5 or later, various Linux versions, iOS, Android and Windows Mobile
Other features12.3cm colour touchscreen
Buying information
WarrantyOne-year RTB
Consumable parts and pricesTN-329 black toner (6,000 pages) £59, cyan, magenta and yellow toners (6,000 pages each) £126 each. Drum DR-321CL (25,000 pages) £105, Belt BU-320CL (50,000 pages) £65, waste toner bottle WT-320CL 50,000 pages £14
Quoted life of supplied black toner2,500 pages
Quoted life of supplied colour toner1,500 pages
Cost per ISO/IEC 24712 A4 page inc VAT8.4p
Cost per ISO/IEC 24712 A4 page inc VAT (colour part)6.9p
Cost per ISO/IEC 24712 A4 page inc VAT (mono part)1.6p
Capacity of supplied drum/s (pages)25,000 pages
Part codeMFCL8850CDWZU1