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Brother MFC-8220 review: Brother MFC-8220

Brother MFC-8220

Dan Littman
5 min read
The laser printer Brother MFC-8220 copies, sends and receives faxes, and scans in monochrome. Built with a top-of-the-line 600dpi, vendor-rated 21ppm engine, the unit includes a 30-page sheetfed document feeder and walk-up copy and fax capabilities. When compared against HP's similarly equipped LaserJet 3015, the MFC-8220 wins some and loses some. The Brother costs $50 more than the HP, it can't scan in color to your PC, and it makes poor grayscale scans and has mediocre scan and print qualities. On the other hand, the Brother MFC-8220 prints and copies faster than the HP, plus it holds more paper and offers better fax capabilities, and it offers the same network capabilities as the HP LaserJet. Small businesses looking for an inexpensive multifunction printer will do well with this printer. The squat Brother MFC-8220 resembles a large cash register. The printer stands 14 inches high and measures 16 inches wide by 22 inches deep, including the automatic document feeder's (ADF) paper support; it weighs a relatively light 25 pounds. With its two-line, backlit LCD and many buttons, the MFC-8220's sloped-face control panel sits at about the same position as a cash register's keypad.
The design emphasizes economy of space, perfect for crammed offices. Fax and copy jobs all feed from the 30-sheet ADF at the top of the Brother MFC-8220, while scanned and printed documents all drop into a front recess within the Brother MFC-8220's belly, just below the control panel. Unfortunately, the sheetfed document feeder makes it impossible to fax or copy anything that's bound or that's too big or too small. A flap in the front wall opens to serve as a single-sheet or envelope feeder; behind it, another flap exposes the toner cartridge and the imaging drum, which snap together and slide straight into the print engine. In the base, blank paper feeds from a 250-sheet paper tray; you can double the capacity with a second 250-sheet paper tray for $199.
On the back, a USB 2.0 port and a parallel port connect the MFC-8220 to a Macintosh running Mac OS 8.6 or later or a PC running Windows 98 or later. You'll need to buy the USB or parallel cable separately, however. Brother claims that the MFC-8220's nonexpandable 32MB will hold 600 fax pages in memory.
One design drawback: We noticed that the plastic cover over the LCD is set at an angle that reflects overhead lights, which forced us to lean forward quite a bit to read the screen clearly. For the price, the Brother MFC-8220 packs in many features. The control panel makes it easy to scan, copy, and send faxes, thanks to a menu hierarchy that makes sense. These menus carefully match the control-panel buttons, so you always know what the next step should be, unlike with the Samsung SF-565P. The Brother's control panel also provides buttons for 32 one-touch speed-dial numbers, and it can store several hundred more numbers in flash memory.
The Brother MFC-8220 also includes advanced fax capabilities, such as a feature that allows two-way polling (that is, it can send and receive prearranged documents to and from other fax machines); a feature to ping your pager when a fax arrives; and a feature that lets you change the fax-forward number remotely so that you can pick up incoming faxes as you travel. You can also set the printer to beep when it mistakenly answers a voice call or to take over a fax call when you mistakenly pick up the built-in handset or an extension phone. A nice extra: The LCD shows caller ID information.
Along with the printer, Brother provides a 20,000-page imaging unit (drum), which costs $180 to replace, and a 3,300-page toner cartridge. After that, a replacement 3,000-page toner cartridge sells for $72, and a 6,500-page cartridge sells for $92. According to vendor estimates, consumables, including the drum but not the paper, run a reasonable 3 cents per page with the smaller cartridge and 2.3 cents with the high-yield one.
Unfortunately, most of the Brother MFC-8220's PC software is not as feature rich or as simple as its control panel. Brother provides PaperPort 8.0 SE, an easy, capable program for creating digital archives of your documents, but there's no cover-page utility; instead, the Brother MFC-8220's control panel itself offers a very primitive cover-page feature. We also found the Brother software utilities confusing when it came to synchronizing the fax phone book between a PC and the Brother MFC-8220's flash memory. The Brother MFC-8220 rocked CNET Labs performance tests, offering some of the fastest speeds we've seen for laser multifunction printers, but the system left us wanting in terms of image quality.
Printer performance
In CNET Labs text speed tests, the Brother MFC-8220 scored an amazing 16.2 pages per minute (ppm). This compares with the HP LaserJet 3015 at 12.4ppm and the Samsung SF-565P at 12ppm. With graphics, the Brother MFC-8220 slowed a bit to 15.2ppm, compared to the Samsung SF-565P's 12ppm and the HP LaserJet 3015's 9.8ppm.
The MFC-8220's print quality, on the other hand, wasn't perfect. Both text and graphics documents came out very light. While this brightness didn't affect the text, which otherwise looked sharp and readable, it did create bad gradients and inconsistent shading within graphical elements.
Laser multifuntion performance  (Longer bars indicate better performance (pages/min))
Copy speed  
Grayscale speed  
Color scan speed  
Black graphics speed  
Black text speed  
Brother MFC-8220
HP LaserJet 3015
Samsung SF-565P

Scanner and copy performance
The Brother MFC-8220 can't scan color, only grayscale. In CNET Labs tests, the Brother MFC-8220 scanned a page at 6.4ppm, which is very fast. In comparison, the HP LaserJet 3015 achieves a score of only 1.3ppm, while the Samsung fares a bit better at 3.4ppm. The Brother's fast scanning engine also translates into a very impressive copying speed: 7.5ppm. This is almost twice as fast as the HP LaserJet 3015's 4.1ppm, and nearly four times the 2.2ppm of the struggling Samsung SF-565P.
While we were impressed with the Brother MFC-8220's scan speed, we were disappointed with its scan quality. The documents suffered heavily from bad gradient and incorrect color matching. Overall, the resulting documents looked blurry and out-of-focus.
We tested the Brother MFC-8220 with its factory default settings, which can be adjusted to address the problems mentioned above.
Print and scan quality performance  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Grayscale quality  
Color scan quality  
Graphics quality  
Text quality  
Brother MFC-8220
HP LaserJet 3015
Samsung SF-565P

Learn more about how CNET Labs tests printers.
Performance analysis written by CNET Labs project leader Dong Van Ngo.
Brother provides good support for its MFC-8220. Under the warranty, you get a year of coverage that includes toll-free telephone tech support, available Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. CT.
The documentation provided in the box is also better than what we're used to: a long, clear setup booklet and a very long, very detailed manual, part of which is printed and part of which comes as a PDF on the driver CD. Brother's Web site includes documentation, FAQs, e-mail access to tech support, and driver downloads.

Brother MFC-8220

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Performance 8Support 8