Finding a multi-function machine, complete with network connection, fax and an auto-document feeder (ADF) for around £100 (plus VAT) is a rarity, so this new Brother device is interesting, straight out of the box.
Styled conventionally in light and dark grey, the memorably-named MFC-5460CN has a full-width control panel at the front with exemplary design. A two-line, 16-character, backlit LCD display shows plenty of useful status and instruction messages and there are four function-selection buttons directly in front of this.
A telephone keypad for faxing lies to the left of the display and to the right is a cross of buttons for menu navigation. At the extreme right are big coloured buttons to start colour and monochrome copy jobs and one to cancel the current task. At the far left are buttons to select specific parameters for print, fax and copy jobs. Under the control panel are memory card slots taking all the most popular formats.
The ADF has a fold-out paper support and can take up to 50 sheets at a time. Paper feeds to the lid of the flatbed scanner, which hinges up in the normal way. A second hinge, further down, gives access to the ink cartridges – the print head in this machine is a permanent one – and to the USB 2 and Ethernet sockets, both of which are standard. You have to weave the cables along channels into the heart of the machine to connect them.
At the bottom is a 100-sheet paper tray, too low a capacity for a multi-function device. Around the side are sockets for phone handset, phone line and power and these would be better positioned at the back.
Brother claims print speeds of up to 30ppm for black and 25ppm for colour print and these figures are frankly silly. Under test we saw typical speeds of 2.2ppm to 2.7ppm, less than a tenth of the numbers quoted. This is not a quick machine and you may well be left waiting for print jobs to finish.
The output quality is not the best we’ve seen for the money, either. Black print is rather over-inked, giving it a slightly fuzzy appearance, and colour print is under-inked, with some of the white paper fibres showing through. Printed colours are reasonably true to life, but copies taken from the flatbed or the ADF are much paler than the originals. Photo prints are surprisingly well reproduced, though, with natural colours and well-disguised dither patterns.
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