Brother MFC-9840CDW colour laser multifunction

Brother's top-of-the-range colour laser multifunction printer has plenty of features, but it has an awkward control scheme

Brother's MFC-9840CDW colour laser multifunction is cheap and packed with features, but we weren't impressed by its navigation scheme and expensive consumables.

Looking like a big version of the Brother MFC-7340, the Brother MFC-9840CDW can fit 250 sheets in its front paper input cassette and an additional 50 in its multi-purpose tray. Brother also offers an optional 500-sheet paper tray. You can connect to the printer through USB, Ethernet or Wi-Fi, and its 128MB of memory is user-upgradeable to 640MB through a panel on the left side of the printer.

In similar fashion to the HP Colour LaserJet CP2025dn , the MFC-9840CDW's four toners are aligned horizontally in a retractable tray behind the front panel. Though comparatively small, the toners still manage reasonable page yields of 4000 pages per colour toner and 5000 pages for the black toner. Unfortunately, the price of the consumables raises this multifunction's running costs to a very expensive 22.2c per A4 page.

The Brother MFC-9840CDW's navigation pad is big and has a confusing array of buttons including up to 40 fax number presets, a number pad, and an oddly positioned OK button. It isn't able to multitask; once you enter the scan function, for example, you must first press Stop before being able to copy or fax. You can use the controls to print from a USB drive or access the Secure Print mode.

The printer's Web interface is plagued by a poor layout and lack of features. The Web interface offers basic features like access to information about consumables and user administration, as well as letting you perform some minor maintenance tasks like colour calibration. The Web interface can automatically send e-mail reports to administrators and you can lock specific users out of individual functions, but it lacks IP filtering, 802.1X authentication and other advanced security features.

The printer's speed is consistent at 21.4 pages per minute for both mono and colour printing, and it takes an average of 15 seconds to print the first page. This isn't horribly slow but there are faster laser printers if speed is of paramount concern.

Documents are clean and largely accurate but characters become feathered when printing at 7pt. The Brother MFC-9840CDW's colour palette isn't entirely accurate, and transitions between green and blue colours caused some fading to occur. The Brother MFC-9840CDW doesn't produce mono and colour documents at the quality expected from a top-end laser printer.

Scans are quick, taking an average of 1min 30sec for a full A4 colour photo. The results are detailed, making it a good option for both text and photo scanning.

The feature set and price tag are admirable, but a poor user experience combined with expensive consumables make the Brother MFC-9840CDW colour laser multifunction hard to come to terms with. If you're after a fully featured multifunction for draft printing it certainly suffices, but it lacks the quality required for presentation documents.

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