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Brother's MFP can't be faulted for quality, access control and cloud support

Pros: Excellent network connections options; speedy printing; Low running costs

Cons: Slightly pricey

Verdict: There’s a lot to like about Brother’s MFC-L8900CDW as it’s a highly versatile MFP that we found very easy to use. It isn’t the cheapest but it combines good speed and output quality with reasonable running costs and provides great access security and cloud features. 

Targeting busy workgroups of up to five users, Brother's MFC-L8900CDW laser MFP aims to please them all with its versatility, speed and output quality.

It's well connected too, as it supports USB, Gigabit wired, 11n wireless, Wi-Fi Direct, AirPrint and NFC for tap-to-print services. 

The big 12.6cm colour touchscreen and clear icons makes it very accessible. Even better, we could customise the display by adding four extra screens each with eight shortcuts to copy, scan or fax functions linked to various destinations.

Paper capacity can be expanded hugely with a four 520-sheet cassette base unit and although there are lot of consumables, running costs are reasonable. Once the standard starter cartridges are exhausted, switch to the super high yield versions which drop mono and colour printing costs to 1.3p and 9.4p per page. 

Brother's software package comprises a System Tray status monitor, TWAIN driver, ControlCenter4 (CC4) network scan and print utility plus Nuance's PaperPort SE 14 OCR conversion and document management utility. Installation is swift as Brother's routine discovered the MFP and loaded the apps plus driver on our Windows 10 desktops preconfigured for network access. 

The driver allowed us to assign a security PIN to confidential jobs so they could only be released by entering the code at the printer. Access security is a key feature; we used Brother's Secure Function Lock 3 to restrict public access, create lists of local users and dish out privileges. 

Function profiles allow or deny access to print, copy and scan operations, set page limits, restrict colour printing and much more. The printer uses the logged-in user name at a PC to enforce security but it would be useful if the driver advised users when they are trying to access blocked features as this could avoid unnecessary support calls. 

Cloud support is extensive and easy to set up using Brother's Web Connect portal. Choose from the eight supported providers, add your account details and enter the unique 11-digit code provided at the printer's panel. 

The CC4 app provides remote access to the scanner so documents can be pulled in and converted to images, Office files and searchable PDFs. You can also push scans from the MFP to any PC with CC4 loaded and selecting the email option loads the resident email client with the file attached. 

The MFC-L8900CDW delivers a good overall performance with a 31-page mono Word document printed promptly in 60 seconds at both true 600dpi and 2,400dpi x 600dpi interpolated resolutions. Colour speed dropped slightly as our challenging 24-page colour DTP test document took 62 seconds at both resolutions but in all cases, the time to first page was never more than 10 seconds. 

Output quality is a winner as 12pt fonts, even on cheap 75gms recycled paper, are pin-sharp. Mono photos also revealed plenty of detail, although shaded areas at 600dpi had a slight cyan tinge which disappeared at 2,400dpi. 

Colour photos are equally detailed, with good contrast and bright colours translating to eye-catching reports with almost no banding in large single-colour blocks. The scanner also returned good results. Photos and glossy magazine covers revealed plenty of detail and good colour rendition. 

There's a lot to like about Brother's MFC-L8900CDW as it's a highly versatile MFP that we found very easy to use. It isn't the cheapest but it combines good speed and output quality with reasonable running costs and provides great access security and cloud features.

The printer's integral duplexer halves speed with a double-sided print of the Word test document averaging 15.5ppm. Copy operations using the scanner's ADF were slightly faster with a 10-page single-sided copy mustering 18ppm. 

Specifications

600dpi A4 colour laser MFP; 1200 x 2400dpi duplex colour scanner; 800MHz CPU; 512MB RAM; 31ppm colour/mono; 12.6cm colour touchscreen; 2 x USB 2;  Gigabit Ethernet; 11n wireless; NFC; 33.6Kbps fax/modem; 2 x RJ-11; Duplex; 250-page input tray; 70-page ADF; 50-page MPT; Ave. monthly cycle -- 4,000 pages; 495 x 526 x 549mm (WDH); 28.7kg; 1 year on-site warranty 


Running Costs

Extra high yield: K toner (9K pages), £98; C,M,Y toner (6.5K pages), £182 each; drum unit, (50K pages), £93; belt unit (130K pages), £38; waste bottle (50K pages), £15. Overall cost per A4 page: mono, 1.3p; .colour 9.7p 

MFC-L8900CDW touch screen
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Printing on an MFC-L8900CDW from a smart phone
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