But as with similar products we've tested, the Brother MFC-6890CDW's talent comes at a price. Furthermore, it's a very slow performer.

The Brother MFC-6890CDW possesses formidable media-handling skills. It has two sturdy input trays: one holds 250 letter- or legal-size sheets, and the other is a 100-sheet multipurpose tray that handles everything else - including ledger-size media.

Automatic duplexing works for letter-size media only. The Brother MFC-6890CDW has a 50-sheet output tray and a capacious 50-sheet automatic document feeder that scans up to ledger-size (one side at a time only). The scanner's platen can accommodate ledger-size media, too. The media slots accept CF, MS, SD, and xD; there's a USB/PictBridge port, too.

Connectivity options include USB, ethernet, and Wi-Fi. Though the wired connections are located inside the unit; you have to lift the scanner unit and snake the cord through a channel to the port.

The Brother MFC-6890CDW's control panel has a 4.2in colour touchscreen LCD. A few aspects of its design could be better: The ink-level graphic on the LCD is also the "button" leading to further information on ink and maintenance, but it's not obvious that you can press it. The LCD screens lack cues as well; if you press the wrong button, it just beeps at you (unless you disable the beeper).

The lofty speed claims that Brother makes for the Brother MFC-6890CDW - 35 pages per minute for text printing, and 28ppm for graphics printing - exist only in draft mode.

In our tests, the Brother MFC-6890CDW printed text at an anemic 5.5ppm and graphics at 2.3ppm. Printing pages at ledger size will take even longer, of course. Print quality was middling: Text came out dark gray rather than black, and had lightly feathery edges. Graphics looked dull and fuzzy on plain paper but improved on Brother's own stock.

The Brother MFC-6890CDW ships with high-yield supplies - in part, says Brother, because the initialisation process consumes a fair amount of ink. High-yield replacement cartridges are economical. Prices for standard-size supplies are about average.


If you want wide-format printing capabilities, you need a machine like the Brother MFC-6890CDW. But this model is so expensive and slow that my enthusiasm for it is lukewarm at best.