Brother MFC-9440CN Color Laser Multifunction Printer
At a Glance
Canon PIXMA mini320 Inkjet Photo Printer
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This efficient printer, though only marginal for photos, is a solid choice for adding a little color to work documents.
Brother's MFC-9440CN color laser multifunction printer succeeds by focusing on the basic needs of a small office. It comes with some compromises in design and print quality, but taken as a whole, it's a worthy choice.
The MFC-9440CN excels at printing text, matching its specified engine speed of 21 pages per minute (ppm) in our tests and displaying flawlessly crisp, black letters. On the other hand, its graphics printing topped out at 4.8 ppm--less than one-fourth what Brother promises in its specs. Color images looked jaundiced and grainy, while grayscale images appeared bluish and dark. Copy and scan quality were good overall.
Included with the machine are a 250-sheet input tray and a 50-sheet multipurpose tray, as well as a 35-sheet automatic document feeder. The scanner unit sits very low over the 150-sheet output tray; you have to lift the unit for easy access. An optional 500-sheet input tray costs $250. The driver can step you through manual duplexing; no automated method is available.
Control-panel buttons are grouped by function, an arrangement I found intuitive. A two-line monochrome LCD shows the status and menu listings. You use the arrow buttons to navigate, but sometimes it's hard to tell which button will move you in the desired direction.
The unit ships with standard-size consumables, namely a 2500-page black cartridge and 1500-page cyan, magenta, and yellow cartridges. These are expensive to replace, but the high-yield versions are a good deal, as a 5000-page black cartridge costs $93, or less than 2 cents per page, while each 4000-page color cartridge costs $130, or 3.3 cents per page. Changing the cartridges can be awkward: You have to lift and pull hard on a large handle to slide out the rack in which the cartridges sit.
The setup guide offers detailed instructions and helpful illustrations. Brother provides its own scan and fax utilities; ControlCenter3, a centralized interface for launching preset copy, scan, and fax operations; and ScanSoft PaperPort 11 for OCR and document management.
The voluminous documentation for this unit comes in HTML format on the included CD, or you can download it as a PDF file. Most of the content is good, but the instructions for using the menus are often obtuse, citing menu items by serial number rather than name. The HTML version has clumsy navigation in that only the major sections, not the subcategories, show in the browser's navigation pane. A site map lets you skip around at will, but it's not documented.
The MFC-9440CN strikes a happy medium between lower-end competitors such as Lexmark's X500n and fancier models such as Dell's Multifunction Color Laser Printer 3115cn. Mainstream office users probably won't mind its grainy photo quality, but anyone seeking finer results might consider the Xerox Phaser 6180MFP.