Despite its intended business audience, the Brother MFC-990CW multifunction printer holds attention, with its multi-textured polished casing and 4.2in touchscreen LCD cutting a sleek figure in any office.
Not that the Brother MFC-990CW's is the best toucscreen example we've seen. While the photo enhancing feature is good, the screen is less responsive and the image not as easy to read as it could be.
The Brother MFC-990CW's touchscreen hasn't resulted in a paring down of the main control panel, and the front of the Brother is a flurry of buttons and lights. This is understandable, since it has plenty to pack in - not least the fax facilities and the rather pleasing wireless Dect phone. Indeed, should you be looking to replace your old fax machine, this would make a very 21st-century upgrade.
Wi-Fi and ethernet interfaces are provided alongside USB 2.0, and there's even Bluetooth connectivity included. A separate photo tray is provided with the Brother MFC-990CW, although moving between this and the standard feed isn't as smooth as with some dual-tray models we've seen.
The specification print speeds are very similar to those of the Brother DCP-6690CW. And, in practice, the two are quite well matched, particularly on text, where the Brother MFC-990CW churns out copy in the fastest (if rather too light) mode at a rate of 11.1ppm (pages per minute). Quite presentable output is available at the rate of 3.1ppm, although unsurprisingly, a cheap laser printer will still produce better text. Even in the slowest 1.2ppm mode, the characters aren't perfectly reproduced, although the Brother MFC-990CW's results are still palatable for an inkjet model.
Colour graphics output is solid. You'll want to forget about the fast but under-nourished prints at the zippiest 8.5ppm mode, although we quite liked the output available at a rate of 2ppm. Colours are perhaps slightly murky, but the results are clean and free of banding defects.
The Brother MFC-990CW's scanning facilities are fast, although accurate colour reproduction isn't a strength of the Brother. This is a shame, as the images are very good at conveying different textures within the source material.