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Brother manages to keep one foot firmly in the office equipment camp, while the other is in computer peripherals. Its range of multifunction machines epitomises this approach and you'll find them sitting just as happily in a Viking catalogue as in one from PC World. The MFC-5460CN is a colour inkjet multifunction, with an Auto Sheet Feeder (ASF) and full fax facilities built in.
The machine has quite a large footprint, and a broad control panel at the front adds to its depth. On top there's the ASF, which can take up to 50 sheets; the feed tray for this folds neatly out of the way, when not in use. Lift the top cover and you have a standard A4, flatbed scanner and below is a four-colour, inkjet print engine, which feeds up to 100 sheets from a slide-in cartridge at the front. Paper feeds out to the top cover of the same cartridge.
The control panel is well laid out, with a two line, 16-character, backlit LCD display taking centre stage. In front are four well-illuminated mode buttons for fax, scan, copy and photo capture. To the left is a telephone-style keypad and to the right navigation buttons as well as colour and mono Start buttons and a red one for Stop. At the extreme left are specialist buttons for print, fax, and copy options.
Just under the front edge of the control panel are two memory card slots, which between them can accommodate the four major formats: SD, MemoryStick, CompactFlash and xD.
Mains power, a phone line and any external telephone plug in at the side of the MFC-5460CN, which is a bit less convenient than sockets at the rear. A USB or network cable has to feed in through a channel under the scanner section and plug in deep inside the machine. These connections are supplied as standard and you choose which to use when you install the supplied software bundle.
As is normal with multifunction machines, the software includes a document management application – here a copy of PaperPort – and OCR, so you can scan text directly into a word processor.
Installing or replacing the ink cartridges is easier than on most multi-functions, as they all slide in behind a fold-down cover at the extreme right of the front panel. These are ink cartridges pure and simple and the machine does a one-off charge cycle of around four minutes, sucking the ink into the permanent print heads.