Waiting for a new Brother printer to arrive is similar to waiting for a bus – nothing for ages, and then a host appear at the same time. We’ve already looked at one of the lower-end models from the latest batch, the MFC-7460DN. Now it’s the turn of the MFC-7860DW mono multifunction laser printer – and although it sits a little higher in the features table, it shares a great deal in common.
One glance at the exterior and you’ll see there’s little to choose between the two MFPs. The MFC-7860DW has the identical ‘Y’-shaped front, matt black finish and helpful hand-grips on the side. The dimensions are the same 405x399x316mm – compact enough to fit tidily on to a small work desk – but the robust frame again weighs a chunky 11.6kg.
Well-labelled control panel
This is a four-in-one multifunction printer, so you can add fax capability to the usual printing, scanning and copying. Starting at the top, there’s a 35-sheet Auto Document Feeder with a convenient fold-down input tray. Below this is the main control panel, which remains unchanged from the MFC-7460DN. A centrally positioned two-line, 16-character LCD deals with most functions, speed dials are on the left and the number pad on the right, plus a range of quick shortcut buttons for all functions between them. It’s all well labelled and easy to follow, but you still can’t adjust the LCD brightness, which remains rather dim. At the base is the sizable 250-sheet input tray, and the output slot handles up to 100 sheets at a time.
Unfortunately, as before, there’s no sign of a USB port for flash drives, and there’s not reader for camera memory cards. However, the reason why this printer costs more than its younger brother is the addition of Wi-Fi connectivity alongside Ethernet wired networking and USB cable attachment to your PC, which will be a big boon to small businesses operating round a server. Brother has also kept the single-sheet manual feed at the front of the machine, which is handy for the occasional thick document or envelopes.
As you’d expect, there’s little variation in performance between the MFC-7860DW and the MFC-7460DN. Black text documents zoom out at 24 ppm (just shy of the claimed speed) at all three resolutions of 300, 600 and best quality 1200dpi with firm, unbroken lines.
Greyscale copies, on the other hand, have a tendency to be significantly darker than the originals, with periodic banding issues. Using the built-in auto duplex printing, double-sided A4 pages emerge equally impressively at around 12ppm. Scan resolution is also unaltered at up to 600×2400 dpi (optical), with a good range of destinations to e-mail, image, OCR, File, FTP and I-Fax, but the supplied PaperPort software continues to have problems reading some colour images.
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- The arrival of Wi-Fi networking, plus speedy performance.
- Some issue with the quality of copies.
As the only essential difference between the MFC-7860DW and the MFC-7460DN is the addition of Wi-Fi connectivity, the decision whether to pay the extra £50 ultimately depends on how vital this is for your work.