Most manufacturers that have brought out all-in-one devices have approached their design from the printing end, as that's where their expertise lies. Brother, however, approaches its device from the fax machine end, where it has a respectable market share. As such, the MFC-410CN packs a lot of functionality into a very compact, fully fax-aware package.
This is a neat little machine, not that much bigger than an A4 page, with a control panel set into its front edge and paper input and output trays below. As with HP's range of ink-jet printers, paper makes a full 180-degree turn during printing. Connection to an individual PC is made via USB or via Ethernet as a network device.
The full colour scanner, positioned directly above the print mechanism, is a conventional flatbed device with a very respectable optical resolution of 600 x 2,400ppi. The print engine meanwhile, has a maximum resolution of 1,200dpi x 6,000dpi in four colours.
The MFC-410CN’s control panel is clearly laid out and includes, from left to right: a number pad, a two-line by 16-character display and mode selection buttons for fax, photos, scan and copy, a jog dial for menu navigation, and colour and mono start and stop buttons. The display could do with a back-light, but it’s reasonably easy to read under overhead light.
Directly under the control panel on the left-hand side of the machine is a five-format memory card reader, which includes support for Fuji's xD format, but not IBM’s MicroDrive. You can print straight from a memory card, but there’s nowhere to plug in a PictBridge camera.
At the back of the left-hand side panel is the mains socket, together with phone line and handset sockets, all of which would be better at the back. However, they’re still easier to get at than the USB and network ports, which are buried in the depths of the machine.
In fact, to connect up the MFC-410CN and install the ink cartridges, you need to hinge the flat-bed scanner module up at the right, like the bonnet on an old sports car. The USB and network leads plug in near the front under the scanner, with the cables running round and out at the back.
You plug in the four ink cartridges at the front right and the printer automatically charges the tubes between the ink reservoirs and the print heads. All that remains is to install the software, which includes scanning and OCR utilities, faxing from your PC – with a maintained fax address book – and a full copy of PaperPort 9 SE document management.
The printer driver itself supports watermarks and simple page impositions – two or four pages per sheet. You can also print four or nine page posters and scale prints to fit smaller paper sizes.