capsule review

Brother MFC-3820CN

At a Glance
  • Brother MFC3820CN All-In-One Printer

Brother MFC-3820CN
Photograph: Rick Rizner

Although it costs only $200, the Brother MFC-3820CN includes an automatic document feeder so you don't have to place pages one at a time on the glass for scanning, copying, or faxing, as well as media card slots so you don't have to use a PC to print digital images. The fax is built in, a feature we saw in only one other inkjet MFP we tested this month.

The front panel includes buttons for copying, faxing, scanning, and uploading photos from media cards. The LCD menu and navigation buttons let you accomplish a lot of tasks without going to the driver, such as setting the paper size, paper type, and print quality. The front panel also lets you easily choose copy options and access a wide array of fax features.

The MFC-3820CN was the slowest inkjet MFP of our test group at printing text--just 3.1 ppm--but the quickest to print color graphics, at 1.8 ppm. On almost every test of print quality, it received a score of just Fair. Of the inkjet MFPs, the MFC-3820CN printed the least attractive text, which looked light and grayish with jagged edges. In other print quality tests, the MFC-3820CN printed line art that looked smudged and grainy, and graphics that had muted colors and appeared generally fuzzy. The highest score it earned on print quality was a Good for its glossy photos, which showed smooth transitions and good detail, though colors seemed somewhat muted.

The scan and copy speeds were similar to the print speeds. The MFC-3820CN scanned a 4-by-5-inch color photo at 100 dpi in 32 seconds, the second-slowest time of our test models; for scan quality it earned a score of Good. A page of text copied at 2.0 ppm--about half a page behind the average. Like most of the other inkjet MFPs we tested, the MFC-3820CN merited an image quality score of Good for its copy of a text document; copies of color graphics, which we didn't formally score, looked faded and fuzzy.

The driver has few bells and whistles. You can set the standard paper size and quality options, for example, but not much else. However, you can scan a document to e-mail, to the included Paper Port optical character recognition application, or to a file, as well as an image. Brother includes a well-written printed manual with a good troubleshooting section.

With an automatic document feeder and built-in fax, the MFC-3820CN is designed for a home office, but busy workers won't appreciate its slow performance.

Brother MFC-3820CN

Print: Rated 14 ppm text/12 ppm graphics, 4800 by 1200 dpi maximum resolution, 100 sheets input, 50 output. Scan: 600 by 2400 dpi, 24-bit external color. Copy: 12 ppm black and white/10 ppm color; 99 copies. One-year warranty, 12-hour weekday toll-free phone support.

Lisa Cekan

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At a Glance
  • Brother MFC3820CN All-In-One Printer

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