In a world where inexpensive color printers’laser and inkjet alike’abound, it’s hard to get excited about black-and-white multifunction laser printers, unless they hit a striking new price low. Many small offices and workgroups may not even see the point in owning a machine that can’t print or copy color documents.
We do, though. Many businesses’mortgage brokers, tax preparers, and auto dealers, to name just a few’need to print copious amounts of monochrome pages quickly and inexpensively. The speed and low printing cost of a monochrome laser can soften the blow of maintaining a second machine for occasional color output. Plus, if the printer can also copy, scan, and fax when needed, that’s an added office-convenience bonus.
It’s in these high-volume, on-demand printing environments that devices like Brother’s $599-list MFC-8950DW readily find a home. And, in that sense (well, in every sense, actually) this huge, fast multifunction printer is certainly a high-volume machine. It comes with a spacious 500-sheet input tray, and it provides users with toner-cartridge options with yields up to 12,000 pages per cartridge. Plus, Brother rates this machine’s duty cycle at up to 100,000 pages monthly (that’s Brother’s recommendation for how many prints you should be able to push through it each month without undue wear), and it spits out pages at blazingly fast speeds. In addition, you can purchase a second 500-sheet paper tray that, combined with the 50-sheet override tray, allows you to stock the MFC-8950DW with over 1,000 sheets of paper.
Clearly, this is a machine for businesses that generate stacks of black-and-white documents all day; it’s absolutely overkill for a light-printing home office or for the kids’ term papers. We should pause here and point out that Brother also offers a pared-down version of the MFC-8950DW, the MFC-8910DW. (We’ll be reviewing it shortly.) Essentially, the MFC-8910DW is the same machine, minus a few features, such as a USB slot for printing and scanning directly from the printer itself, and support for the highest-yield (12,000-page) toner cartridges’which means you can’t get the lowest cost-per-page option available on the more expensive MFC-8950DW. If you don’t need these functions, the MFC-8910DW might be a better buy.
Like most Brother printers, this one is well-built, operates efficiently, prints good-looking documents, and is easy to set up and use. We do have a couple of concerns, though. First, some high-end color-laser models, such as Samsung’s CLP-775ND (which we saw online when we wrote this for as low as $678, and Dell’s single-function C3760dn, spotted for around $570Best, don’t cost a lot more than the MFC-8950DW. These color machines, as well as a few others, are, we think, better deals, because they give you the option to print color documents when you need them.
Our second quibble is the MFC-8950DW’s cost per page (CPP). If you buy Brother’s highest-yield cartridge, the CPP is not exorbitantly high, but it’s higher than some other competing printers, including the two mentioned in the previous paragraph. We’ll talk more about this model’s CPP in the Design & Features section on the next page.
Still, the MFC-8950DW is a good printer overall. In our speed tests, it performed on par with its competitors, all the while providing us with great-looking prints and copies. For the most part, the scanner worked well, too. We’d be more excited about it, though, were it a little less pricey and a bit less expensive to use.
See the review at Computer Shopper.