capsule review

Brother MFC-6890CDW Inkjet MFP

At a Glance
  • Brother MFC-6890CDW

    PCWorld Rating

    If you need tabloid printing, this machine offers it; but there are speed and cost tradeoffs.

Ledger-size products like Brother's MFC-6890CDW color inkjet multifunction printer let you skip the local print shop and print a wider (literally) range of documents in-house. But as with similar products we've tested (including the HP OfficeJet K8600dn and the Oki Printing Solutions C8800N), this MFP's talent comes at a price. Furthermore, it's a very slow performer.

The MFC-6890CDW possesses formidable media-handling skills. It has two sturdy input trays: one holds 250 letter- or legal-size sheets, and the other is a 100-sheet multipurpose tray that handles everything else--including ledger-size media. Automatic duplexing works for letter-size media only. The MFP has a 50-sheet output tray and a capacious 50-sheet automatic document feeder that scans up to ledger-size (one side at a time only). The scanner's platen can accommodate ledger-size media, too. The media slots accept CF, MS, SD, and xD; there's a USB/PictBridge port, too.

Connectivity options include USB, ethernet, and Wi-Fi. Though the wired connections are located inside the unit; you have to lift the scanner unit and snake the cord through a channel to the port.

The control panel has a 4.2-inch color touchscreen LCD. A few aspects of its design could be better: The ink-level graphic on the LCD is also the "button" leading to further information on ink and maintenance, but it's not obvious that you can press it. The LCD screens lack cues as well; if you press the wrong button, it just beeps at you (unless you disable the beeper).

The lofty speed claims that Brother makes for the MFC-6890CDW--35 pages per minute for text printing, and 28 ppm for graphics printing--exist only in draft mode. In our tests, this model printed text at an anemic 5.5 ppm and graphics at 2.3 ppm. Printing pages at ledger size will take even longer, of course. Print quality was middling: Text came out dark gray rather than black, and had lightly feathery edges. Graphics looked dull and fuzzy on plain paper but improved on Brother's own stock.

The MFC-6890CDW ships with high-yield supplies--in part, says Brother, because the initialization process consumes a fair amount of ink. High-yield replacement cartridges are economical: A 900-page black cartridge costs $31.50 (3.5 cents per page), while each 750-page color cartridge costs $17 (2.3 cents per color per page). A page containing all four colors would thus cost just 10.3 cents. Prices for standard-size supplies are about average: a 450-page black cartridge goes for $24.50 (5.4 cents per page), and 325-page cyan, magenta, and yellow cartridges cost $10.50 each (3.2 cents per color per page). A page printed with all four colors using these cartridges would cost 15.1 cents.

If you want wide-format printing capabilities, you need a machine like the Brother MFC-6890CDW. But this model is so expensive and slow that my enthusiasm for it is lukewarm at best.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    If you need tabloid printing, this machine offers it; but there are speed and cost tradeoffs.

    Pros

    • Prints and scans tabloid-size media
    • High-yield inks are economical

    Cons

    • Very slow on all tests
    • Very expensive to buy
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