Despite a dramatic slide in the price of colour laser printers, the humble inkjet is very much alive and well, and continues to flourish in a variety of forms. The Brother DCP-6690CW makes an impressive case as one of the most full featured multifunction inkjet printers we've seen.
A huge packing box hints that this multifunction printer is far from small and, indeed, the Brother DCP-6690CW is massive in inkjet terms. The reason for this is that it can print to A3 paper. And, as Brother points out, compared to the typical A3 model the Brother DCP-6690CW is actually quite modestly proportioned. Nonetheless, this substantial printer will require significant desktop space.
The Brother DCP-6690CW's 4.2in touchscreen LCD grabs attention, and the ability to file through options with your fingers makes it all the easier to set up. Not that Brother has done away with buttons altogether, and there's actually a generous sampling of controls giving one-touch access to the main functions. It can also happily operate without a PC connected and switched on.
When talking about the Brother DCP-6690CW's features it's difficult knowing where to start. It's ready for both wireless and wired networks, and the PictBridge support plus a battery of memory card slots are as comprehensive as you'd expect. The 50-sheet paper output tray isn't perhaps as generous as we might expect, particularly given that the Brother can accept up to 400 sheets as input.
Print resolution peaks at 6,000x1,200dpi, although the Brother DCP-6690CW isn't quite so stellar on speed. Its fastest text printing allows for just 11.1 pages per minute. It's no slouch, but those looking for rapid output to match the price will be disappointed. In order to get quality text output (where the character definition is sharp and possessed of considerable clarity), you'll have to drop down to 3.3ppm.
The Brother DCP-6690CW is considerably better at graphics, issuing attractive results even in the middle mode, at a rate of 3.3ppm. At the highest quality level (1.8ppm), images have plenty of detail, even if the colour palette doesn't quite fizz with as much colour as we'd want. Nonetheless, the results are easy on the eye.
A3 support is obviously a significant selling point for the Brother DCP-6690CW, and it makes a good job of printing to large paper sizes. Its scanning facilities are top-notch too, and the realistic image reproduction makes this extremely viable as an all-round multifunction printer - particularly for photo enthusiasts.
The speed and quality of the Brother DCP-6690CW falls short of the results you might expect from a regular multifunction printer costing over £200. But that is to miss the point of the Brother. From the digital camera support to the wireless network facilities and the A3 capabilities, this is a truly versatile model that redefines the ideal of multi-functionality.