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Brother MFC-420cn review: Brother MFC-420cn

The 420cn's scans turned out only fair. Black-and-white scans looked so faint that light areas of the test document disappeared completely, and fine areas of the gradient appeared fuzzy and indistinct. The printer's color scans were also pale, faint, and overexposed. In scanning speed, the Brother averaged some 3ppm for both color and grayscale documents, about average, as was its 2.3ppm photocopying speed.

This model worked well throughout the testing process. CNET Labs tested the unit at the default manufacturer settings, which can be adjusted to better the performance.

CNET Labs' multifunction printer performance  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Copy speed  
Color scan speed  
Grayscale scan speed  
Photo speed  
Text speed  
Dell 942
3.49 
2.99 
4.15 
0.21 
6.90 
Brother MFC-420cn
2.27 
3.1 
2.95 
0.15 
3.19 
Epson Stylus CX4600
1.66 
2.96 
4.82 
0.27 
1.3 
Lexmark x7170
0.75 
4.68 
5.34 
0.1 
1.12 

CNET Labs' print-quality performance  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Color scan  
Grayscale scan  
Photo  
Graphics on inkjet paper  
Text on inkjet paper  
Epson Stylus CX4600
Excellent 
Excellent 
Good 
Good 
Excellent 
Dell 942
Fair 
Fair 
Good 
Good 
Good 
Brother MFC-420cn
Fair 
Fair 
Good 
Good 
Good 
Lexmark x7170
Poor 
Poor 
Excellent 
Good 
Poor 

Click here to learn more about how CNET Labs tests printers.

Performance analysis written by CNET Labs project leader Dong Van Ngo.

Installing the Brother MFC-420cn is a simple matter of plugging it in and connecting it to your computer via a USB cable. To access the USB 2.0 port, you'll have to lift the top cover, thread the cable into its port, then replace the cover. The Brother MFC-420cn comes with plenty of documentation, including a printed user guide. The lengthy printed booklet covers setting up the 420cn for faxes, copies, prints, and media-card reader use. For detailed information about connecting the 420cn to a network, using the software, and scanning, you'll have to consult the CD-ROM manual. Brother also provides both digital and print quick-setup guides to lead you through the simple installation.

You can e-mail or fax technical questions to Brother toll-free or consult Brother's thorough Web site for answers to FAQs, as well as downloadable manuals and drivers. Technical support is available 24/7, with some exceptions on holidays. We appreciated the weekend support, since that's when home users will likely seek advice on their photo projects. Free, toll-free technical support is available for the life of the machine--a generous plan.

The Brother 420cn is covered by a one-year limited warranty, which you can pay $74.99 to extend by one year, $87.49 for two more years, and $199.99 for a three-year extension plan. Onsite and depot warranties are also available. An onsite warranty covers repairs made by service technicians to the product in your home or office, at $99.99 for one year of coverage, $174.99 for two years, and $237.49 for three years. Depot warranties cover repairs by third-party service vendors and cost $62.49 for one year or two years for $74.99.

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