There's not a lot of software supplied with the printer and none of the extras, which are provided with the DCP-9040CN, such as Brother's Postscript clone, BRScript. The driver includes support for watermarks and multiple pages per sheet, but not overprinting.
The HL-4040CN took 22 seconds to print our five-page black text document, equivalent to a speed of 13.6ppm. Although that's not close to the rated 20ppm, it's better than some colour laser printers we tested recently. The text and colour graphics pages took 32 seconds to complete, a speed of the 9.4ppm, though the printer's again rated at 20ppm. These figures mean that this Brother machine is not particularly quick for its class.
Print quality is variable. Black text is cleanly printed with no noticeable malformations of characters or lines. Colour graphics are also good, with lines coming out smooth and clean, though there's a slight banding in some areas of colour fill. Photographic output is not so good, with a comparatively small gamut restricting the accuracy of colour rendition.
You can see the difference between the default 600dpi of the printer's Normal mode and the 1,200dpi of its Fine mode. While Fine mode reproduces shaded colour, such as areas of sky, better than Normal mode, it doesn't do so well with darker detail, in shadowed areas.
While this is generally a quiet machine, measured noise level peaked at just over 60dBA, suggesting it's noisier than it feels.
Running costs on this machine are made up from a number of components. As well as the four toner cartridges, which are available in low and high capacities, there's a drum, a belt and a toner waste bottle, each of which has different usage rates.
Using the higher-yield toner cartridges gives 5,000 pages of black print and 4,000 pages of each colour. These usages return costs per page of 2.50p and 8.32p, respectively for 5 per cent black and 20 per cent colour pages. This makes the HL-4040CN a bit expensive on black print and inexpensive on colour, but with a typical mix in an office environment, overall it's a little higher than average.
There are definite good and bad points to the HL-4040CN. The reprint and direct print functions are things we've long looked for on business printers, as they are simple to implement and very helpful to the customer. On the other hand, its lack of expandability and only average print quality count against the machine. It should be on your shortlist, but only along with representatives of its major competitors.