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The Brother MFC-9440CN is an excellent color laser multifunction printer for small offices and work groups. Its fast speeds, great print/scan quality, and large feature set are commendable. It's not without its shortcomings, but they are minor. Compared with similarly priced multifunctions we've reviewed, such as the Lexmark X502n and the Xerox Phaser 6115MFP, we prefer the Brother MFC-9440CN for standard office use because it carries out all of its functions well. If your priority is super-high-quality prints, you may consider the HP Color Laserjet CM1017, but its slow print speeds won't stand up to everyday office use. For everyone else looking for a multifunction that offers the features and performance that meet the wide-ranging needs of a busy office, we recommend the Brother MFC-9440CN.
The Brother MFC-9440CN is a large printer designed for small offices and work groups, so make sure you have sufficient desk or table space for it. It stands 17 inches wide, 19.2 inches deep, and 19 inches tall, and it weighs a hefty 72.6 pounds. Hand wells embedded in either side help you get a grip on the printer, but it's large enough to require two people to move it.
The A4-size scanner lid is surmounted by a 35-page automatic document feeder. If using the flatbed scanner, the maximum size your original can be is A4, but the ADF unit allows you to scan legal-size documents. A PictBridge-enabled USB button sits on the front panel and supports both PictBridge cameras and USB flash drives.
The control panel houses a lot of buttons, but it's well organized. Task buttons let you switch among fax, scan, and copy functions. Eight one-touch dial buttons let you quickly access as many as 16 saved fax numbers, and the alphanumeric keypad lets you input unsaved numbers. Several buttons let you make quick changes within certain tasks. For example, the copy-specific buttons allow you to reduce or enlarge the copy, while the fax-specific buttons let you change the fax resolution, redial, or hang up. A backlit, two-line text LCD, the standard menu navigation buttons, and start buttons for color and black printing round out the control panel.
The paper handling system on the MFC-9440CN is flexible, an important feature for a multiuser environment. The standard paper tray holds up to 250 sheets of plain paper and can be configured for a variety of page sizes, as large as legal; an optional 500-sheet tray is also available from Brother. A panel on the front of the printer opens to reveal a 50-sheet multipurpose tray, perfect for making one-off prints without having to swap out the contents of the main tray. The output well has a capacity of 150 prints.
The MFC-9440CN uses a linear arrangement of toner cartridges. To access them, open the front panel of the printer and pull the toner tray out. The printer ships with standard size cartridges: the black is good for about 2,500 prints ($60), while each of the three color cartridges is good for about 1,500 pages ($70). All of the toner cartridges are also available in high-yield versions. The black cartridge produces about 5,000 pages ($93), while each color cartridge produces about 4,000 pages ($130). Using the high-yield versions for best value, we estimate that black-only printing costs about 1.9 cents per page, while full-color pages cost about 11.8 cents apiece. Both costs are within the normal range for a multifunction laser printer in this price range. The recommended monthly duty cycle for this unit is 35,000 pages, so it's best suited for a small office environment with moderate-to-heavy print needs.
The Brother MFC-9440CN comes network-ready, with an Ethernet port in the rear. It can also be connected to a single PC via a USB cable and is compatible with both Windows and Mac operating systems. It lacks an auto duplexer, though the driver can assist you with manual duplex jobs. It ships with 64MB of memory, upgradeable to 576MB.
The copy features on this model are standard. You can make as many as 99 copies at once and reduce or enlarge via preset values or custom values (25 percent to 400 percent, in 1 percent increments). If you're using the ADF to copy a multipage document, you can opt to have the machine collate the copies. The printer will make 2-on-1 or 4-on-1 copies, in portrait or landscape mode, but doesn't support poster prints. You can adjust attributes such as quality, brightness, and contrast.
The manufacturer's settings for the standalone scan function are limited, but you can expand them using the bundled Brother ControlCenter software. If you're initiating a scan using the printer's control panel, your options are limited to e-mail, image, OCR, and file. Scanning to a file automatically saves the scan as a JPEG file in a new folder in My Documents. If you want to change the resulting file type or the destination folder, you can do so in the ControlCenter. Conveniently, the ControlCenter lets you configure the software button and the control panel button differently, so if you mainly want your scans to be saved as PDFs, you can configure the on-printer button to do so and still have the software scan button configured for something else. Other file options include bitmap and TIFF. One thing you cannot do when starting a scan via the printer is scan into an application--you have to go through the ControlCenter software. The stock choices are Paint, Internet Explorer 6, and PaperPort, but you can add applications to the list. The Control Center even lets you create four custom scan profiles. You can designate the target location, the target application, the scan quality, and the file type for each profile.
The onboard PictBridge-enabled USB port lets you perform walk-up print tasks. If you're printing images, you can't preview them, and you'll need to know the image's filename in order to choose it. Supported file types include PDF, JPEG, Exif+JPEG, TIFF, and PostScript 3.
As mentioned before, the printer offers eight one-touch keys, each of which can be programmed with two fax numbers, for a total of 16 one-touch fax numbers. Additionally, the machine can store as many as 300 speed-dial numbers (which require a three-digit code). If you send broadcast faxes often, you can program groups, as well (broadcast faxes can only be black and white). If you're away from your machine, you can have remote fax options turned on. These include fax forwarding, paging (the machine pages you to inform you of a received fax), and fax storage (the fax is stored in memory until you print). The one feature the MFC-9440CN lacks is junk fax blocking, a handy feature often found on office-oriented multifunctions.
One last feature we liked on this model is the security feature. The Settings Lock lets you program a PIN number and safeguard from having others changing your machine settings, such as date/time, quick-dial settings, and LCD contrast. The Memory Security keeps others from gaining unauthorized access to the machine. When the Memory Security is on, you cannot print received faxes, send faxes, copy, print from a PC, scan, or receive PC faxes. This feature is useful if you suspect someone in your office is abusing their privileges with the multifunction unit, and you want to keep costs down.
The Brother MFC-9440CN isn't the fastest laser multifunction we've tested in CNET Labs, but across the board, it's the most consistently fast across all tasks, if that makes sense. Let us explain. It produced black text at a rate of 16 pages per minute (ppm), behind the Lexmark X502n's 19.71ppm, but when printing grayscale graphics, it bested the Lexmark with a score of 15.21ppm. The Brother machine was the fastest with color printing, by far, when compared with similarly priced units, more than doubling some of the scores. It produced color text at a rate of 13.8ppm and color graphics at a rate of 15.53ppm.
At both grayscale and color scanning, the Brother again fell behind the Lexmark, but not by far. The Brother produced grayscale scans at a rate of 5.87ppm and color scans at a rate of 5.23ppm. The Lexmark was a half to a full page faster with scans. Finally, the MFC-9440CN came out on top with copying using the ADF: a fast 15.06ppm, nearly half a page faster than the Lexmark.
|Grayscale scan||Color graphics||Color text||Black graphics||Black text|
Happily, the MFC-9440CN doesn't sacrifice quality for speed. The black text prints were basically perfect, which is what we expect of a $700 laser multifunction. The text is sharp and clean, and easily legible down to 2.5 points. The grayscale graphics print was good but for some graininess in photo elements and a bit of lost detail as a result of the light end of the grayscale being slightly blown out. Color text showed good color blending and well-rendered characters, but some of the text looked as if it was shrouded in a bit of haze. The color graphics print showed sharp details and nice saturation, but the colors were overly ruddy.
The grayscale scan showed great, sharp detail. The only issue was some compression at the dark end of the grayscale, resulting in lost details in shadow areas. We're hard-pressed to find problems with the color scan: it's near perfect.
Overall, we found the Brother MFC-9440CN's print speeds and quality to be great, more than good enough for standard office use, and perhaps even good enough to produce some light, in-house marketing collateral.
|Black graphics||Black text|
|Color scan||Grayscale scan||Color graphics||Color text|
Service and support
Brother backs the MFC-9440CN with a one-year limited warranty. Toll-free phone support is available weekdays from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. ET. You can also send an e-mail or a fax to tech support. Brother's Web site has an FAQ database, downloads, and manuals.