Brother has decided to add an All-in-One device to its range of laser printers and photocopiers. Unlike most other devices of this type, from the likes of Hewlett Packard and Lexmark, Brother’s MFC-9160 is based on a monochrome laser engine rather than a colour inkjet.
Like most devices of the type, the Brother Multi-Function Centre scans from left to right and prints from back to front. There’s a 30-sheet automatic document feeder on top, so you can scan or copy quite substantial documents as one task, but when you hinge this up, there’s a conventional flat-bed scanner glass underneath for individual jobs.
The printer takes sheets from a near vertical hopper at the rear and feeds them out to an ineffectual out-tray which slides out from the front of the machine. Also at the back are parallel and USB sockets for connection to a PC. Brother provides a parallel printer cable but, unexpectedly, not the cheaper USB cable many people may prefer to use.
Controls are arrayed along the front lip of the device. There’s a two-line LCD display, which Brother has sensibly thought to back-light and which is easy to read because of this. A ring of buttons near the display navigates you through the setup menus, but the buttons that control print, copy and scan functions – more regularly used – are less well positioned. Until you get used to the machine, you may have to hunt for them and each of these buttons has a dual function and hence dual labels, too.
The supplied driver software works with all versions of Windows except XP. If you intended to use the device with Windows XP, you should download a new driver from the Brother Web site, to avoid any problems. Either way, the driver provides good control of printing and scanning functions. The scanning head is full-colour, so you can use it for acquiring all kinds of colour content even if you can’t actually print on this device in colour.
Speed tests revealed print speeds of around 6.5ppm, which is reasonable, but not that close to the quoted 10ppm. Print quality was above average, with dark, crisp text and only slight banding in large areas of grey tone.
Running costs are split between toner, which costs £18 for a 2,200 page cartridge, and the drum unit, which lasts for 8,000 pages and costs £100 to replace. This gives a print cost of around 2p per page, which is reasonable for this type of laser device.
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