The Brother MFC-9320CW multifunction is Brother's top-of-the-range colour LED printer, offering integrated Wi-Fi and the ability to directly print from and scan to USB flash drives.

Like the Brother HL-3070CW printer, the Brother MFC-9320CW provides decent quality for a very reasonable price, though the absence of an automatic duplexer is disappointing.

It may look and act like a laser printer, but the technology behind the Brother MFC-9320CW is slightly different. Both laser and LED printers etch a digital image onto a drum which is then dipped into toner powder and heat fused onto paper. LED printers use an array of LED lights - similar to those used to backlight modern LCD televisions - instead of a single laser. This allegedly makes LED printers and multifunctions smaller, cheaper, quieter and more durable than their laser counterparts, as well able to produce more accurate text.

Though we can't test its durability, the Brother MFC-9320CW certainly matches the other claims when tested against Brother's own laser printers. This printer is much shorter compared to even a monochrome laser multifunction like the MFC-8880DN. It's better value, too; for the same price you get colour printing and integrated wireless connectivity.

The Brother MFC-9320CW colour LED multifunction connects over USB, Ethernet and 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, and includes a 33.6Kbps fax. You can set up the multifunction's integrated wireless directly from the control panel, either by inputting your network's password or initiating Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS), SecureEasySetup or AOSS if your router supports them.

The front-mounted USB port supports flash drives and PictBridge-compatible devices. It will save scans as PDFs or images to these devices, and can print JPG, PRN, TIFF, XPS and PDFs from them. The Brother MFC-9320CW won't recognise text or Word documents.

Though the Brother MFC-9320CW colour LED multifunction's control panel is usable for basic tasks, the inability to multitask can become frustrating. There are three quick access buttons for scanning, copying and faxing, but these can only be pressed when in the root menu. If you're in the setup menu or adjusting something else on the control panel, you'll have to return to the root interface before trying to use another function. Even buttons like "Job Cancel" won't override this.

If the control panel becomes too frustrating, the web-based interface will provide access to most of the same settings, along with the ability to configure an FTP scan destination. Don't expect enterprise-level security, but the interface is sufficient for basic use.

The Brother MFC-9320CW colour LED multifunction prints reasonably quickly for its price range, thanks for a single-pass print engine which only feeds paper through the printer once. This also means that each toner has its own drum, cutting down on consumables you'll need to purchase. Unfortunately the printer ships with starter toners that only yield 1000 pages each. Normally, you can expect to get 2500 pages out of each black toner and 1500 pages out of each colour one, for a reasonable total running cost.

Text documents are accurate, though small font sizes can be somewhat hard to read. We found enabling some of the Brother MFC-9320CW's print enhancement options remedied this.

LED printers aren't immune from the same quality issues that regularly affect lasers, like colour mis-registration and an inaccurate colour palette. The Brother MFC-9320CW colour LED multifunction isn't particularly prone to this, though in some cases text appeared skewed when placed on coloured backgrounds. Colour is generally good when printing basic graphics but we noticed streaks when attempting to print full pictures.

Scans can be initiated directly from the control panel to a PC, email address, USB flash drive or FTP server, with a resolution of up to 600dpi. The resulting quality is certainly sufficient for OCR scans of text documents, as well as the odd photo.

NEXT: our expert verdict >>

PCWorld.idg.com.au

Brother MFC-9320CW: Specs

  • Multifunction colour laser printer, copier, scanner, fax
  • Copy Resolution (Colour): 600x2400dpi
  • Fax Speed: 33.6Kbps
  • Installed memory (RAM): 64MB, Maximum memory (RAM): 576MB
  • AC Power
  • Maximum Printer Resolution (Colour): 600x2400dpi
  • Direct Printing
  • Front paper cassette
  • Monthly Duty Cycle: 25,000
  • Flatbed Scanner
  • Maximum Scanner Resolution: 1200x2400dpi
  • RJ11 Phone Jack, RJ45, USB 2.0
  • WLAN 802.11 b/g
  • 490x429x398mm
  • 22.9kg
  • Multifunction colour laser printer, copier, scanner, fax
  • Copy Resolution (Colour): 600x2400dpi
  • Fax Speed: 33.6Kbps
  • Installed memory (RAM): 64MB, Maximum memory (RAM): 576MB
  • AC Power
  • Maximum Printer Resolution (Colour): 600x2400dpi
  • Direct Printing
  • Front paper cassette
  • Monthly Duty Cycle: 25,000
  • Flatbed Scanner
  • Maximum Scanner Resolution: 1200x2400dpi
  • RJ11 Phone Jack, RJ45, USB 2.0
  • WLAN 802.11 b/g
  • 490x429x398mm
  • 22.9kg

OUR VERDICT

Although the Brother MFC-9320CW's LED technology isn't a selling point in and of itself, the lower initial price point and good text quality make this colour multifunction a good option.

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