Printer Review - Brother Professional Series MFC-6490CW Color Inkjet All-in-One

A Professional Printer at a Home Office Price

Brother Professional Series MFC-6490CW Color Inkjet All-in-One with Wireless Networking
Brother Professional Series MFC-6490CW Color Inkjet All-in-One with Wireless Networking. Brother International

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Suggested Retail Price: $299.99

Manufactured by: Brother International (View Demo)

This is the first in a series of new professional printers by Brother. I am thrilled to see a company finally understands business women want/need a printer with larger paper size capacity, two paper trays, and high performance from an all-in-one printer at a home office price.

Recommended Use: Home offices, busy home offices, and really, really busy home offices.

This printer would also do well in professional offices as a shared printer with versatility.

Features and Specifications

  • High Impact Printing: Up to ledger (11" x 17") paper printing- great for newsletters, presentations, spreadsheets, and signs. The 5-sheet document feeder also can hold 11”x17” paper.
  • Fast Color Printing: With speeds up to 35ppm black and 28ppm color.
  • Built-in Wireless & Wired Interfaces: Allows you to share the MFC now or in the future. Just plug it into your wired or wireless router and share it to print, scan, PC Fax and access to the digital camera media cards or USB flash memory.
  • Great Paper Trays! Two paper trays (1 holds up to 150 sheets of 3.5” x 5” to ledger 11" x 17" sized; tray 2 holds up to 250 sheets of 8”x11” paper up to ledger 11" x 17" sized paper.
  • Direct Photo Printing: Print photos directly from your digital camera's media cards, PictBridge-enabled camera, or USB Flash Memory.‡
  • High Yield 4-Cartridge System: Both standard and high yield ink cartridges are available.
  • Professional Quality Printing: With droplet sizes as small as 1.5 picoliters and high resolutions up to 6000 x 1200dpi.
  • Widescreen 3.3" Color LCD Display: Edit and enhance images, preview faxes and easy to read help menus.
  • 2-Year Limited Warranty.

With these features and affordability, it does not surprise me this printer was awarded PC Magazine’s Editor’s Choice Award (September 11, 2008).

What I Like About the Brother MFC-6490CW Color Inkjet All-in-One

Big, But it Does Really Big Things: This printer is too large for a college dorm or a desktop but its use is not intended to be lightweight. With a duty cycle of 5,000 pages per month – double that of smaller use printers, it is an affordable step up into the “serious” small business world.

The large flatbed scanner/copier bed is perfect for creating signs, small posters, and dealing with legal sized documents – and newsletters!

It Can Save You Lots of Money: Because this printer has a great duty cycle (5,000 ppm) and can handle 11"x17” paper you can now print your own newsletters for a fraction of the price of a walk-in printer.

It uses separate ink cartridges for each color so you only have to replace the colors you need (it also comes with initial ink cartridges). This long-term cost savings also means less trash in landfills.

Features and Performance: Easy to set up, the FAX, copier, printer and scanning features all worked well. I like being able to scan documents directly into .pdf (and other document) files rather than as a .jpg.

Yeah! Two Paper Trays: No more having to make adjustments for printing between envelopes and letters. With two paper trays you can stock envelopes in one tray and letter paper in the other.

Print Photos: The MFC-6490CW can print directly from PictBridge cameras, memory cards, and USB keys. It also has a color LCD screen so you can review photos before printing even if you are not connected to a PC.

The Printer Pays for Itself With Just One Large Color Print Job

In my (really, really) busy home office I print a lot of black and white documents but had been sending color brochures and my 4-page color newsletter to a printer. I put the MFC-6490CW to the test and printed 500 color newsletters (using both sides of one 11”x17” sheet of paper for a finished 4-page newsletter when folded) and compared the cost.

Using the MFC-6490CW, including paper and ink, the cost came to about $150. The walk-in printer price I normally pay (which is discounted because I do a lot of business with them) is about $600. That's a cost savings of about $450 – more than the full retail price of the printer itself.

Print quality was comparable to the local printer’s. It took most of the day to finish the job (1,000 11"x17" color printed pages total), but one of the paper trays holds 250 sheets (the other 150 sheets) so I was able to walk away and do other things during most of the print time.

What I Do Not Like About the Brother MFC-6490CW Color Inkjet All-in-One

While some other reviewers have complained that the size of this printer is too big, I disagree. My Cannon (that does less) is much bigger and was twice the price.

The Brother MFC-6490CW Color Inkjet All-in-One printer is a professional series printer, not a desktop printer, and in its class it is actually the smallest and lightest on the market (I could lift it by myself).

This printer does not perform duplex printing (automatic printing of a sheet of paper on both sides) but the technology needed in printers to offer duplex printing increases the price and the physical sizes. I did not find flipping sheets over on large print runs much trouble given the cost savings of not having to send jobs to a local printer.

Brother may have just found an under-served market - consumers who want more for less.

Disclaimer: This printer was sent to me for review without any expectation, special consideration, or compensation. After the printer was reviewed, Brother International donated it to a 501(c)(3) public charity.

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