At a Glance
Brother MFC-6490cw All-In-One Printer
(Check Prices) via Amazon.com Marketplace
Amazon Shop buttons are programmatically attached to all reviews, regardless of products' final review scores. Our parent company, IDG, receives advertisement revenue for shopping activity generated by the links. Because the buttons are attached programmatically, they should not be interpreted as editorial endorsements.
Its wide-format capability is nice, but not its slow performance and variable print quality.
Brother's color inkjet multifunction printer (MFP), the MFC-6490CW, adds wide-format printing capability to an already long list of functions. Unfortunately, extremely slow performance is the tradeoff.
For $300 (at this writing), the MFC-6490CW gives you features galore. The integrated scanner takes wide-format media, as do the two input trays, which together take a generous 400 sheets of plain paper. The trays feel a bit flimsy, and their lids can be tricky. You also get a 50-sheet output tray and a 50-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF). Automatic duplexing is not available, but its cousin, the MFC-6890CDW, offers it for a slightly higher purchase price. Connectivity includes USB, ethernet, and Wi-Fi. The first two ports are hidden within the machine, under the scanner unit, which is odd. Media slots take CF, MS, SD, SM, and xD cards. There is also a USB/PictBridge port.
The control panel is mostly easy to understand. A 3.3-inch, color LCD shows menu items, photo images, and other info; it also divides fax buttons on the left from major-function and navigation buttons on the right--all labeled clearly. Our one quibble: It's sometimes unclear which button you use to back out of a menu.
Ink costs are very fair. Brother ships the unit with high-yield cartridges to compensate for the ink typically lost during the initialization process. The 900-page black (K) cartridge costs $31.49 to replace, or 3.5 cents per page. The 750-page cyan (C), magenta (M), and yellow (Y) cartridges each cost $16.99, or 2.3 cents per color, per page. A page with all four colors would cost an economical 10.3 cents. Standard-size ink costs are average. One oddity: None of the ink cartridges are keyed; you can put them in the wrong slot. The unit performs normally anyway, but we're surprised at this oversight.
The MFC-6490CW's subpar performance overshadows its many nice attributes. In our tests, it did everything slowly: Plain text exited at a snail's pace of 5.7 pages per minute (ppm), while the best graphics speed was just 2.4 ppm. Even its scanning and copying speeds were far slower than average. Wide-format output would take even longer. On plain paper, text looked fuzzy and charcoal-like instead of black, while photos looked dull and grainy. Brother's own photo papers improved photo quality considerably.
Brother's MFC-6490CW is hobbled by its lackluster speed and variable print quality. If you really need wide-format printing, check out options such as HP's OfficeJet 7000 (a stand-alone inkjet), which is faster and has better print quality.
For other choices in inkjet MFPs, see our chart of Top 10 Inkjet Multifunction Printers.
--Melissa Riofrio and Susan Silvius