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Oh Brother!
Written by John   
Friday, 17 February 2006

Oh Brother - What a value!

Over the last 18 years I've had occasion to use a LOT of technology.  I've evaluated technology for a world wide hotel chain, and developed strategies and recommendations for implementations - right down to the product level.

So, this little article is going to tell you about a company I've had occasion to deal with both Professionally, and Personally.  I'm talking about Brother.

You may have heard of them.  You'll see their printer / multifunction devices in some national office supply stores, and their sewing machines at major retailers.  What makes them different is value and service. 

MFC-5440CN - a Review:

I recently obtained an MFC-5440CN.  Retail $199.00, street price slightly lower depending on where you buy.  Now, this model has been in their line for a while (a year?), and it just amazed me.

First, it's SO compact.  It takes up less space than my older MFC.  Footprint is probably on par with some of the newer models from HP.  So, you ask, what makes this thing so amazing?

First, for features:

- 4 separate INK tanks.

- Ethernet built in

- Sheet Feed for Scanning, Copying, Faxing

- Fax Functionality

All that for $199.  So, that makes it a great value.  A comparable HP unit would run typically at least $100 more, and would not have the convenience of separate ink tanks.

So, let's talk about the features a second.

Separate ink tanks.

That's Right.  The MFC-5440CN uses separate ink tanks. Separate Inks make using the printer for ANY type of printing a joy.  The inks used are fairly water resistant too when dry.  The colors are bright and truely rendered.  And, if you run out of yellow, you don't toss a half full blue along with it.  Points to Brother!

Fax Functionality.

Most people don't fax a lot.  Neither do we.  But it's very very handy to have a FAX when you need one, and the MFC-5440CN is a champ when you need it.  A comparable ethernet connected HP with fax currently sells for $349 at Best Buy, but does not have a sheet feeder.  To give the HP credit, it does have photo card readers, which are not on this model from Brother but are on it's bigger sibling.

The fax works fabulously, and can be set to detect "distinctive rings" from your phone company.  It even faxes over my IP telephone line!  The built in sheet feeder allows you to fax a 20 page document without having to dial and fax each page.  And it's got a good bit of memory as well - I faxed 4 pages in S-Fine mode and memory remaining was 98%.

As with all faxes, the output of what you receive depends on the quality that it's sent to you, but the MFC-5440CN does a great job both sending and receiving.

Sheet Feed.

Yes, sheet feed was mentioned above with the fax functionality, but it can also be used to copy or scan. With the included Brother Control Center software, you can scan a 5 page document to a multi-page TIF file.  This makes it easy to re-fax from your computer with comments, OCR, etc.  And the sheet feeder on the MFC-5440CN closes so you can keep the dust out.  And that's just cool.

Built In Ethernet - My favorite feature!

When you have a home network, sharing printers can be a bit of a chore.  Of course, I've been networking for years, and have not ever had a problem sharing the PRINT functionality.  But getting a SCAN or using the PC fax always ment using the computer to which the unit was directly wired.

With our new MFC-5440CN, no problems!  The unit has a built in server.  It becomes a device on your network.  You install the Brother Control Panel software on any PC on your LAN, and and you can SCAN, COPY, FAX and PRINT from anywhere.  That is a MUST HAVE feature in my opinion, and with every other manufacturer it's typically going to price the printer at or above $300.  With the MFC-5440CN, that's not the case - as I've already noted.

Conclusion:

If you're in the market for a new ink jet / multi-function printer, this is the one you ought to buy - even if you only have one computer to print from.  The value proposition of having separate ink tanks, and all of the other features, combined with high-resoultion printing - even "borderless print" for photos, make this MFC-5440CN a MUST OWN unit.

My only complaint is the lack of a manual feed, and the fact that paper is pulled up and over, which may cause perforated papers, like business card stock, or photo papers, to have a bit of a curl to them for a while until the ink dries.

But as I've already said - if you're in the market for a new printer, this is the one to get.

EDIT:  If you're looking for a great Laser printer, and the value of Brother intrigues you after reading my review, you might want to check out the Brother 5250DN, Network Ready LASER printer. Typically available for MUCH less than it's $399.00 suggested retail, a true DUPLEXING networked Laser Printer could be just what your home or small business needs!

 

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