The Brother MFC5490CN is a four-ink multifunction printer that offers scanning, printing and copying facilities, as well as a fax functionality, making it ideal for the home office.
Measuring 440x403x222mm, the Brother MFC5490CN isn't the sleekest looking device we've reviewed, but it does offer a number of different functions. PictBridge connectivity means users can print their digital snaps from the device without the need for a PC, and it also benefits from a compact flash port, three-in-one card reader and USB port, as well as a 50 -sheet document feeder on the top of the device, to make copying easier and a direct scan to PDF function.
While we found most of the Brother MFC5490CN's set-up easy, we did find that it was a bit fiddly to install the ink cartridges. Once you've opened the packaging you need to turn the green dial on the cartridge clockwise until it clicks and then completely remove the dial and its yellow casing.
We found we had to pull quite hard to remove these components. However, as soon as we'd inserted the cartridges, the Brother MFC5490CN automatically aligns the cartridges and cleans the printer. This process takes around four minutes.
After this there's a print quality check followed by software installation - in other words, setting up the Brother MFC5490CN is a time-consuming process. We also had to lift up the glass scanner flatbed and insert the USB cable, running it along a shallow groove in the printer before closing the cover.
Brother says the Brother MFC5490CN can print black documents at a speed of 35ppm and colour documents at 28ppm. Our graphics and text document printed in 19 seconds. However, on draft mode the text was more of a grey colour than it was black and images appeared very faded and pixelated.
When using Normal and Best modes, the colours were vivid and text came out black rather than charcoal. When printing photos, skintones looked realistic but backgrounds were overly dark. The maximum paper weight this printer will support is 220g/m2, so some premium photo papers were too heavy and couldn't be used with the printer.
This was the only model in the group test not to have a colour LCD display. Instead it has a one-line 16-character backlit display. You can't therefore preview images on memory cards or USB sticks. Because of this, we found we needed a PC to print from these devices, which was more time-consuming.
We found the Brother MFC5490CN was one of the noisiest printers we tested when it came to cleaning and aligning the cartridges, but during printing it was fairly quiet.
The Brother MFC5490CN comes with four cartridges, and extra cartridges cost £10.91 for the three colours and £24.84 for black, creating a cost per print of 5p for black and 15p for colour.
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