Brother claims 35ppm for black print and 28ppm for colour from this machine. We would suggest you’re only likely to see this if you're printing a couple of characters per page in draft mode. Printing on plain paper in normal print mode, we recorded 4.11ppm for a typical 5-page text document, rising to 4.49ppm on a 20-page one. This is around 13 percent of the rated speed, so draw your own conclusions.
The 5-page black text and colour graphics document took 1:52 to complete, which is equivalent to 2.68ppm, less than a tenth of the number on the box. These speeds are pretty slow by rival inkjet standards, where even the £90 HP Photosmart Plus B209 managed 7.69ppm and 5.08ppm on the five-page black and colour documents.
Printing A3 pages also produced fairly slow speeds, with a 5-page job returning 2.63ppm and the equivalent text and colour graphics print giving 1.65ppm. 15 x 10cm photos took around 1:45 from PC, memory card or PictBridge camera.
Copy jobs are also pretty laid-back, with a single-page A4 copy taking 50 seconds and the equivalent A3 copy coming through in 1:04. From the ADF, 5-page black text copies took 1:52 for A4 and 1:58 for A3.
The print quality is only fair. Black text has a decidedly grey appearance, in comparison with inkjets from Canon, HP or Lexmark and there’s some fuzz around characters, produced by ink bleed into the paper fibres. Colour graphics are reasonable, though shades are a little insipid and even more so in colour copies.
Photo prints are surprisingly good for a machine which is intended primarily for the office. Colours are natural and vary smoothly from shade to shade. There's plenty of detail, though some darker hues are lost to black. A full page, A3 print looked good, though it did take just under seven minutes to complete.
The four ink cartridges are available in two capacities and to their credit, Brother supplies the high yield versions in the box with the machine. These provide 950 pages of black and 750 pages of colour and give costs per page of 2.85p and 6.91p, respectively, including 0.7p paper. Both these costs are very reasonable for an inkjet and even printing A3, they shouldn't see you that out-of-pocket.
If you need A3 colour print, the DCP-6690CW is an economic way of getting it, both in terms of initial purchase price and running costs. The machine's feature set is also good, with the convenience of wireless networking and touchscreen control, but it's the core features of print quality and speed that let it down. Print quality is okay, but nothing special and the print speed, even for A4, is slow.