Brother claims to be the second most popular supplier of laser-based printers and multifunction devices in the UK and we've little reason to doubt this. It aims itself more at business than the home user, though the new MFC-7840W mono laser multifunction will probably be more at home in a SOHO environment than as a workgroup printer, even in a small workgroup.
Based on Brother's new range of laser engines the MFC-7840W is just about as compact as you can get for a multifunction machine with a built-in A4 Auto Document Feeder (ADF). With a 250-sheet paper tray and a single-sheet, multi-purpose slot just above, the machine also boasts a straight-through paper path, if you open a cover at the back.
Otherwise, paper feeds through onto the top of the laser engine, protruding only a small amount at the front directly underneath the machine's control panel. There's no flimsy output tray sticking out to get caught as you walk past.
The control panel comes with a two-line, 16-character, backlit LCD display; three illuminated mode keys for fax, scan and copy; quick-dial buttons; a number pad for fax dialling; and an eight-button navigation pad that isn't quite as intuitive as it should be. Finally, a set of option buttons at the extreme left-hand end provides for selections like fax resolution, copy enlargement and reduction, and secure print.
The scanner section at the top of the machine lifts up, but not for access to the drum and toner cartridge. The only reason you might want to raise it is if there's a paper jam. In fact, this multifunction printer's consumables slide in as a single cartridge from the front of the machine, once you've hinged down the front cover. The cartridge doesn't locate or slide in particularly easily, though.
USB installation is straightforward enough, but wireless connection is more complicated and, we guess, more complicated than Brother thinks it is. The wireless installation Wizard offers automated and manual set-ups and if your router supports Secure Easy Setup, Wi-Fi Protected Setup or AISS, all should be well.
In other cases, you have to either be able to connect this MFP directly to the wireless router via a network cable or have a wireless-enabled PC. If you want to set up via a router, but the router is positioned inconveniently for a physical link, the Wizard doesn't help much. Other wireless printer makers enable a wireless set up using a temporary USB connection to any PC on the network, which seems the simplest approach to us.