The Brother MFC-6890CDW inkjet multifunction printer improves on the Brother MFC-6490CW multifunction, adding duplex capabilities and a touch screen. Though it could do with faster print speeds, this A3-capable printer is still a valuable addition to the cost-conscious office.
The Brother MFC-6890CDW inkjet multifunction includes USB, Ethernet and Wi-Fi connections, with the two wired connections concealed beneath the scanner cover. PictBridge-capable USB devices can connect directly to the MFC-6890CDW and the multimedia card reader supports CompactFlash, SD, MemoryStick and xD media. The multifunction has a 50-sheet automatic document feeder.
There are two front-facing input trays to separate A3 and A4 media and they fit a total of 350 sheets. The A3 input and output trays must both be extended to accommodate the larger media, but overall this printer isn't a behemoth.
The multifunction uses a 4.2in widescreen LCD touch panel. The quality of the display is unimpressive but it does help with menu navigation, notifications and altering settings. It becomes unresponsive during a task but you can still access other features when this happens by pressing one of the function buttons.
A function lock available directly from the MFC-6890CDW multifunction allows you to restrict access to certain features. Up to 21 users can be configured with password protection and differing levels of access to copy, fax, scan and print functions. You can also restrict users' printing to colour or mono.
The MFC-6890CDW multifunction doesn't provide a Web-based interface, but remote administration can be performed using an accompanying application (which is compatible with both Mac OS and Windows).
Print speeds are slightly slow for an inkjet multifunction in this price range. The Brother MFC-6890CDW will print the first page of a draft monochrome A4 document in 13.5sec and subsequent pages at a rate of 16.4 pages per minute. At normal quality, this speed drops to 4.8ppm. Colour documents print at roughly the same speed: 16.4ppm using draft quality and 3.4ppm using normal. The MFC-6890CDW multifunction will print A3 mono documents at a rate of 5.7ppm using draft quality and 3.2ppm using normal quality, while colour A3 documents print at 6ppm and 2ppm, respectively.
Photo printing is surprisingly quick, however. Using the "fine" setting, 4x6in photos printed in 22sec, and it took 1min 38sec to print an A4 photo. A3 photos printed in 4min 40sec.
Print quality is quite good overall. A4 documents have crisp characters that manage to escape looking "inky" and colour documents are vibrant without being oversaturated. Photos printed at 4x6in lack the banding we found when using the Brother MFC-6490CW. They have a rather neutral colour palette overall; this doesn't lend itself to producing bright or particularly colourful photos, but there are no major quality issues. Scans are quite fast and produce good results. Colours match the original source and fine detail is reproduced adequately.
Scaling documents to print at A3 works acceptably; our test mono documents survived the transition to A3 without issue. Unfortunately, our colour test document suffered from severe horizontal coloured streaks when it was scaled up to A3 and despite trying a variety of print settings we were unable to eradicate these marks. Thankfully, this issue wasn't found in A3 photos, which had the same neutral colour palette as their A4 counterparts. The MFC-6890CDW inkjet multifunction won't match the quality of dedicated A3 photo printers like the Epson Stylus Photo R2880, but it will work well for in-house production of marketing materials. At 18.8c per A4 page, this multifunction's inexpensive consumables will help keep costs down.
The cost increase over the Brother MFC-6490CW is certainly justified, but the MFC-6890CDW multifunction still has room for improvement.
Follow PC World Australia on Twitter: @PCWorldAu