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Review: Brother MFC-7840W

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At a Glance
  • Brother MFC-7840W

Brother MFC-7840W
Brother’s MFC-7840W multifunction device.

Brother’s MFC-7840W is a multifunction device with a monochrome laser printer, copier, scanner, fax machine, and wired and wireless networking. Budget-conscious users will especially appreciate the MFC-7840W’s inexpensive cost per print (approximately $0.03 per page). Capable of printing very good quality text and business graphics at reasonably fast rates, the MFC-7840W is a fine choice for offices that work in a black-and-white world.

Setup is a snap. After powering up the machine and installing the toner cartridge, you have three connection options: Ethernet, USB 2.0, or 802.11b/g wireless. The USB connection is plug and play, and when we connected the printer via Ethernet, the MFC-7840W automatically appeared on our Mac as a Bonjour printer. The trickiest connection was the wireless, which required setting up IP printing. After some time flipping through the user manual, we figured it out and wireless printing worked smoothly.

The device’s control panel is well designed and clearly labeled. Three large buttons allow you to choose between the fax, scan, and copy functions. The control panel consists of rubber buttons, and a bright, backlit LCD clearly displays the settings you can choose from.

Disappointingly, the included scanner software doesn’t offer flexible scanning options. Though straightforward to use, the software doesn’t allow you to perform a full preview scan. The scanner performs a preview scan on specific parts of the glass based on the document size you select, requiring you to be very precise about where you place your documents on the glass.

The MFC-7840W output had very good results overall, impressing our panel of experts. Text quality in a Word document looked clean and professional, earning a Very Good rating. We also printed a document containing mixed elements, including fine, curved lines and graphics, which earned another Very Good rating. The scanner’s output was too heavy on the blues compared to our control image, earning a Good rating. The MFC-9840CDW’s copier received a Good rating: in a test copy of a Macworld magazine cover, some details was lost, and shadows lacked detail.

Print speeds were reasonably fast. It took just under 38 seconds to print a ten-page Word document, and 17 seconds to print a one-page Word document. Color scanning was a bit on the slower side: it took 1 minute and 57 seconds to scan an 8-by-10-inch photo at 600 dpi.

Since the MFC-7840W is a monochrome multifunction device, you only have to worry about replacing one toner cartridge. For $45, you can purchase the standard toner cartridge, which Brother estimates will yield 1,500 pages-that’s about $0.03 per print. Keep in mind that eventually you have to replace the drum unit, which costs $100 and has an estimated yield of 12,000 pages. As always, these page rating are estimates; just how much you’ll get out of each toner cartridge and drum unit depends on the types of documents you’re printing.

Timed Trials: Print

10-page Word test 0:38
1-page Word test 0:17
4-page PDF 0:30

Scale = Minutes: Seconds

Timed Trials: Scan

8-by-10-inch photo, 600 dpi scan 1:57
4-by-6-inch photo, 1,200 dpi scan 1:14

Scale = Minutes: Seconds

Jury Tests: Print

Graphics: Fine Lines and Gradients Very Good
Text Quality Very Good

Scale = Superior, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor

Jury Tests: Scan/Copy

Color Good
Clarity Good
Copy Good

Scale = Superior, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor

How We Tested: We ran all tests with the laser multifunction printer connected via 10/100BaseTX Ethernet to a 2.66GHz Mac Pro with Mac OS X 10.5.2 installed and 1GB of RAM. We recorded the time it took the MFP to print a one-page Word document and a ten-page Word document, as well as the time it took to print a four-page PDF. We then recorded the time it took to scan an 8-by-10-inch photo at 600 dpi in color, as well as the time it took to scan a 4-by-6-inch photo at 1,200 dpi in color. A panel of experts examined sample output of the MFP to evaluate its print, scan, and copy quality as Superior, Very Good, Good, Fair, or Poor in comparison to the output of past laser MFPs we've tested.—Macworld Lab Testing by Brian Chen and Blair Frank


Print Resolution 2,400 x 600 dpi
Scan Resolution: Optical 600 x 2,400 dpi
Max. scanning bit depth 48-bit
Connection USB 2.0, Ethernet, 802.11b & 802.11g
Paper Sizes Up to 8.5 x 14 inches
Cost to Replace Toner Cartridge $45 for black
Weight (in pounds) 24.5
Dimensions (height x depth x width in inches) 16.9 x 15.6 x 12
Paper Capacity 250 sheets
Special Features Wireless printing

Macworld’s buying advice

At $300, the MFC-7840W is a bargain. If you don’t mind a bare-bones scanner driver and you mostly print text and business charts and graphs, you’ll enjoy this versatile device that won’t take a bite into your budget.

[Brian Chen is a Macworld associate editor.]

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At a Glance
  • Pros

    • Inexpensive cost per print
    • Moderately fast
    • Includes wireless networking
    • Prints clean, legible text and attractive graphics in black and white


    • Scanner software lacks advanced options
    • Wireless setup is tricky
    • Scanning is a bit slow
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