After all our years of reviewing multifunction laser printers (and all sorts of other printers, mind you), we sometimes still can’t figure out how manufacturers determine which features to include—and how they set prices—for models within same family. A $100 price difference between, say, two similar HP lasers might get you a vastly different set of options than on two similarly classed Brother models. Often, it seems more like sharp-elbowed market jockeying than any rational balancing of features.
We do understand that pricing and features depend on competing products, parts and construction costs, market trends, and other factors, but too often, it seems that printer manufacturers aren’t working from the same market research. And they’re not all using the same playbook, that’s for sure. Case in point is Brother’s recently released MFC-8910DW, a multifunction (print/scan/copy/fax) monochrome laser that lists for $499.
The MFC-8910DW is essentially a pared-down version of the $599 MFC-8950DW we reviewed a few weeks before it. While we’re fairly certain that these two models cost about the same to manufacture, we find ourselves scratching our heads at just how much you give up for the $100 price difference between them. For example, the more expensive MFC-8950DW has a 500-sheet input drawer, compared to the MFC-8910DW’s middling 250-sheet input-tray capacity.
Also, the cheaper model has half the monthly duty cycle: 50,000 sheets per month, versus 100,000. (“Monthly duty cycle” is the total number of pages Brother says you can print each month without wearing out the printer prematurely.) And, on top of that, the MFC-8910DW doesn’t support Brother’s high-capacity (12,000-page) toner cartridges, which the MFC-8950DW does. That means you can’t get from the MFC-8910DW as low a cost per page (CPP) as you can from other models with this Brother engine inside.
Why is this perplexing? For one thing, these compromises are steep ones for $100—especially considering the MFC-8910DW’s already slightly high price—but here’s a bigger reason: Given the MFC-8910’s blazing print speeds and potential capacity, it, like its higher-priced sibling, is a high-volume laser. As you’ll see in our per-page cost comparison between these two Brother printers (in the Design & Features section on the next page), saving $100 up front on the purchase price might actually cost you before long. Because these are high-volume lasers, if you plan to use the MFC-8910DW for what it’s designed for—printing thousands of pages each month—the cost per page will catch up with you quickly.
That said, we still found plenty to like about this printer. Like most Brother lasers, it’s built to last; it prints good-looking black-and-white documents; it’s fast; and it’s easy to set up and use. Just keep those “buts” we just mentioned in mind: It costs a little too much for a printer that doesn’t print color, and if high-volume printing is what you’re looking for, the higher-priced MFC-8950DW (as well as several other models, including a few color lasers) will save you money—potentially, lots of it—over time.
The bottom line? The less you print, the more saving $100 on this model makes sense.
See the full review at Computer Shopper.