With fast print speeds and low total cost of ownership, laser printers are almost always seen as the best bet for corporate workgroups that print large volumes. However, when it comes to A3-sized laser printing, things can start to get very expensive.
Brother is hoping to change all this with its MFC-6890CDW, a low-cost colour A3 multi-function inkjet that can print, copy, scan and fax.
Despite its A3 capabilities, it's actually a fairly compact unit. The front panel is home to a range of large, easy-to-access buttons, along with a 4.2in colour touch-screen display. Sitting below the control panel are two paper trays (one holds 100 sheets, the other 250), while the built-in duplex unit helps keep costs down by offering dual-sided printing.
Build quality is generally good, but there are some flimsy sections such as the fold-out flap on the output tray.
The installation process didn't throw up any problems, and the four supplied ink cartridges slotted neatly into the front of the chassis. The printer can hook up to a sole workstation via USB, or provide workgroup printing by connecting to wired and wireless networks.
Text quality is by no means poor, but it's certainly not as crisp as that of most laser printers. Colour output is similarly mediocre and not as vivid as we'd like, but it's fine for the occasional colour photo.
Brother quotes a nippy 35ppm for mono and 28ppm for colour, but you'll get near these speeds only when printing extremely sparse documents using draft mode. In our tests, we managed 7ppm when printing a 200-word document using the 'normal' print quality setting.
Switch on the duplex feature and things become excruciatingly slow; a single two-sided document took almost one minute to print, which severely limits its appeal.
The 1,200 x 2,400dpi scanner is able to capture a decent amount of detail and keeps colours accurate, while a mono photocopy can be obtained in around 30 seconds.
Opt for the standard capacity ink and you'll be paying 4.2p and 13p for mono and colour prints respectively. The high-capacity ink cartridges offer far better value, with a cost per page of 2.8p for mono and 8.5p for colour. All prices exclude VAT.
The MFC-6890CDW's main selling point is undoubtedly its ability to print A3 documents at a relatively low cost; opt for an A3 colour laser multi-function device and you'll be spending thousands, not hundreds.
The slow print speeds mean that it's not suitable as the sole printer for medium- or even small-sized workgroups but, if your business requires occasional colour A3 prints, it's ideal as a second printer.