Brother is pushing the MFC-9420CN as a business-friendly MFD (multifunction device). It's quick and built for high volume, with a 250-sheet paper tray and a 35-page automatic document feeder, and the device's colour-faxing capabilities are excellent.

Unfortunately, we were less impressed by the sometimes mediocre output quality, the counter-intuitive control panel and the unfriendly documentation.

Small offices should note that the MFC-9420CN cannot be tucked discreetly into a corner. It's big, heavy and loud, emitting distinct clunking noises during power-up and printing. You'll need nearly three feet of height clearance to raise the scanner cover. The printer's setup guide offers exhaustive detail on installing the machine and adjusting fax and other features. But the illustrations were often inadequate and unclear - and sometimes plain inaccurate. We also disliked the scattered design of the front control panel. The fax-related buttons are located in four different places, and it's often hard to tell whether you're about to launch menus or choose an item.

The ControlCenter2 fax/scan/copy utility (including rudimentary scanning and optical character recognition applications) is much easier to use, but can’t completely replace the control panel. And we were very surprised not to find any kind of duplexing.

What the Brother lacks in presentation, it recovers somewhat in execution. Printed pages emerged rapidly, and plain text output was crisp and black. Photographs suffered from rough transitions between light and dark, yellow-tinged flesh tones and washed-out colours - stick to pie charts and logos. Scans and copies from the flatbed took an average amount of time and looked reasonably good; they were comparable to the output from other colour-laser MFDs.

Brother MFC-9420CN: Specs

  • Max print resolution 1,200x2,400dpi
  • optical scanner resolution 1,200x2,400dpi
  • print speed B=31ppm C=8ppm
  • USB 2.0
  • parallel port
  • network interface
  • 33,600 modem
  • colour faxing
  • toner costs B=£101 C=£111 x 3
  • print life (pages) B=10,000 C=6,600 x 3
  • 1-year onsite warranty
  • 532x444x569mm
  • 18.5kg
  • Max print resolution 1,200x2,400dpi
  • optical scanner resolution 1,200x2,400dpi
  • print speed B=31ppm C=8ppm
  • USB 2.0
  • parallel port
  • network interface
  • 33,600 modem
  • colour faxing
  • toner costs B=£101 C=£111 x 3
  • print life (pages) B=10,000 C=6,600 x 3
  • 1-year onsite warranty
  • 532x444x569mm
  • 18.5kg

OUR VERDICT

The Brother MFC-9420CN offers most of the functions you’d want in an all-in-one, but its design often gets in the way. We’d trade some of its admirable speed for better print quality and ease of use.

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