Brother MFC-6490CW

An A3 multifunction inkjet printer.

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Brother MFC-6490CW
  • Brother MFC-6490CW
  • Brother MFC-6490CW
  • Brother MFC-6490CW

Pros

  • A3 printing and scanning, quick and detailed scans, fast first-page-out times, comprehensive connectivity, low running cost

Cons

  • Slow printing, photo quality isn't great, no automatic duplex or CD/DVD printing

Bottom Line

There are better standalone A3 printers available, but Brother's A3 inkjet multifunction has its merits. A low running cost caps off a decent printer.

Would you buy this?

  • Buy now (Selling at 3 stores)

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If A4 paper just isn't big enough, then Brother's MFC-6490CW might just be your next multifunction printer. It isn't the best or fastest A3 printer available, but the combination of features and its low running cost make it a tempting buy.

Though it has the basic shape and look of a standard Brother inkjet multifunction printer, the MFC-6490CW is a different beast altogether. It's wide and deep enough to cope with A3 media, and high enough to fit 400 sheets at a time. It isn't as big as the Epson Stylus Photo R2880 photo printer, however.

The Brother MFC-6490CW has two front-facing input media trays that hold a total 400 sheets, allowing you to separate A3 and A4 media. The trays must be extended to accommodate A3 media, making them jut out slightly from the printer. Tray settings can also be configured from the control panel so that the printer can use either one for copying or faxing.

Extensive connectivity is a hallmark of Brother printers, and the MFC-6490CW offers USB 2.0, Ethernet and integrated Wi-Fi. Automatic duplex and direct CD/DVD printing are both absent, but the automatic document feeder is wide enough to fit A3 media. Direct print features are also available, with support for MemoryStick, SD, CompactFlash, xD media, and PictBridge USB.

Printing can be slightly slow at times. It isn't all bad news, however. The first page of a draft mono or colour A4 document only took 13.7sec to come out, slowing to 21.3sec for an A4 mono document at normal quality and 25.9sec for a colour document.

Draft A4 document speeds are on par with low-end multifunctions, with a mono document printing at 16.4 pages per minute and a normal quality A4 document printing at 8.1ppm. Colour documents were slower, at 14.9ppm using draft quality and 3.5ppm using normal quality.

The Brother MFC-6490CW will print a draft A3 mono document at an average of 6.3ppm; normal quality slows this to 3.4ppm. Colour A3 draft documents also print at 6.3ppm, but using normal quality will slow printing to 2ppm.

Standard 4x6in photos will print in 22sec, while A4 photos take 1min 38sec. Printing an A3 photo using the "fine" quality setting took 4min 26sec.

Documents are readable, though we noticed a significant amount of feathering in characters at 12pt; this also occurred with 7pt fonts. Text was better when printed using larger font sizes.

Blues are somewhat oversaturated, though this didn't come at the expense of text quality in colour documents. This is also slightly noticeable in photo prints, but not to the same degree; black is a greater problem, looking almost like a shade of green.

We noticed a great deal of noise and banding in 4x6in photos but this disappeared when printing at A3. Quality still isn't perfect and the MFC-6490CW's 1200x6000dpi optical print resolution is perhaps a little low for serious A3 prints. Despite our high resolution source image, fine detail became noticeably blurry at A3.

The MFC-6490CW's strongest feature is its fast and detailed scanning. It took just under a minute to scan an A4 document — most multifunctions take up to three — and it managed to pick up a decent amount of detail in both lighter and darker portions of the source image.

The cartridge yield figures of the Brother MFC-6490CW are only quoted for A4 media. The high yield numbers are reasonable for a standard multifunction, but if you are intending to use device primarily for A3 photo prints don't expect the cartridges to last too long. At 18.8c per A4 page, however, at least it won't cost you too much when it comes to ink replacement.

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