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Brother MFC-6490CW A3 Multi-Function Printer review

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Summary

Our Score:

8

In an office where size matters, the A3 printer is king. You don’t have to be a graphics professional to appreciate the advantages of paper twice as big as the ubiquitous A4. Anybody who produces any booklets or newsletters at A4 will appreciate being able to print an A4 spread in one A3 pass and fold it down. Poster and notices printed at the larger size are also useful. Brother has started rolling a ball we suspect several other companies will follow in the next year, by introducing the MFC-6490CW, a colour inkjet all-in-one which can print, copy, scan and fax at A3.

Looking much like any inkjet all-in-one, but twice as big, Brother has used the extra space sensibly. The large flatbed has a 50-sheet Auto Document Feeder (ADF) on top, with a neat, high-gloss panel which unfolds to reveal the paper guides. The lid to the scanner is big - it has to be for an A3 flatbed - but why does it only open to 45 degrees, instead of right up to the vertical? It’s hardly going to overbalance a machine of this size.

The control panel at the front includes a widescreen LCD. This is such a sensible way of enlarging a printer’s display, it’s worth a brief description. Brother has developed an LCD with an 84mm diagonal, but with an aspect ratio wider than a 16:9 TV. This means it can be effectively divided into two displays side-by-side, showing, for instance, a photo thumbnail from a memory card and the options offered for selecting and printing it, without having to overlay one on the other.

Set into the front lip of the control panel are memory card slots for the standard card types and a PictBridge socket. Below the panel are two paper trays, the bottom one taking up to 250 sheets and the top one a further 150. Both are multi-size bins, taking A4 or A3 paper, and the top one can go right down to 15 x 10cm, for photo blanks.

Unusually, and slightly untidily, the mains cable, fax and phone leads connect in on the left-hand side and the USB and network leads have to feed round inside the printer, to sockets just under the scanner.

The ink cartridges plug into a bay on the right of the front panel, once you’ve swung down a small hatch cover on the right. The printer runs through a one-off charging cycle of around five minutes, when you plug in a new cartridge.

Brother provides its ControlCenter 3 software, which handles scanning, OCR and downloading of photos, as well as printing. The machine can be used quite well from the control panel, too, but the menu hierarchy isn’t all it could be.

For example, the button marked Clear/Back in the navigation button group can’t be used repeatedly to back out of menus to the status screen. Instead, you have to use the Stop/Exit button, which is grouped with the black and colour copy keys - hardly intuitive. The machine emits three loud beeps whenever you hit an invalid key, too, which appears to be a Pablovian tactic to stop you changing settings.

Dark of Day

August 26, 2008, 4:14 am

have we not had this review already??!!

Andy Vandervell

August 26, 2008, 1:19 pm

Very observant of you. It was published briefly in the past, but Brother then informed us it was under NDA until today so it was taken down and re-published today. Apologies for the confusion.

Dark of Day

August 26, 2008, 11:14 pm

...I think I must read this site too often!!!

Frankf9d

September 30, 2008, 6:50 am

I just visited the Brother website, the link for this printer has the best 3D animation I have come across for a techie item, especially the hyper view option, almost out of the monitor.

Freddie Meynell

March 21, 2009, 4:01 pm

This would be my ideal machine, if it worked. Particularly important to me was being able to print colour A3. Unfortuneatly it jams constantly, loses wireless connection (I've now got it on USB connection) and numerous other faults - I just think it attempts too much at too low a quality. Shame. Don't know what to get now - don't want a Photo-printer. Any suggestions? Wish this machine worked.

taff525

March 28, 2009, 5:46 am

I'm 100% happy with my 6490, everything works fine, ref:- Freddie, read the instructions for paper loading in tray, then you might find there are no more jams if not refer to the 1 year on site warranty, the Brother help line is as good as it gets.

Fraser Henderson

June 14, 2009, 11:11 pm

I bought one of these at the end of April and was a little wary because of the problem I'd had setting up my wireless LAN originally. I needed have worried, the printer did it all except entering the passcode! I love this printer, not had any jams or indeed any problems at all. I like the feature where it self cleans the ink jets if unused for any lengthy period (ie a few days) so it always ready for use. Great printer all round.

Phill

July 16, 2009, 9:37 pm

What's the difference between this and the more expensive 6890-cdw?? Looks exactly the same.

Tech Girl

July 28, 2009, 10:12 pm

The MFC-6890cdw has all the features of the MFC-6490cw PLUS:





· Built-in automatic duplex printing (up to 8.5” x 11” letter size)





· 4.2” TouchScreen color LCD display





(Note* MFC-6490cw has a paper capacity up to 400 sheets capacity & the MFC-6890cdw up to 350 sheets capacity)

Bill Blue

March 20, 2010, 4:25 am

I have returned the printer to the store. here's why...


I tried to reduce letter-size artwork to one sheet of 4x6 photo paper. Paper jammed!


Tried again with 2 sheets - but standard option to reduce Ltr-to-4x6 (on scanner) reduced by 46%. It left one-inch of blank space at bottom! Called Brother CusSvc- they said try to reduce via Custom 50%. It removed the right margin, and left 3/4-inch blank at bottom!


I talked to two different agents and a tech supvr. They could not tell me any way to get a balanced 4x6 reduction! I also tried using the AutoDocFeeder - it jammed!!!





BTW, I used my HP C4280 (paid $50) and got a better reduction than the $300 MFC-6490CW.

GrantD

May 3, 2010, 8:25 am

I brought the Brother because of it being A3 and the price - cheaper than similar brands. However, I have been very disappointed with it. Compared with the HP (PSC3300) it replaced it seems to use a lot more ink and the quality is vastly inferior. I did over 10 000 trouble free copies with the HP and have had problems with the Brother since day one. The colour ink jets clogged and took a couple of weeks to get fixed. Now, 2 months later the same thing has happened - Brother say it is probably because it may be in the sun or I don't power it off properly (same place as the HP and I never turn it off). I have used so much ink doing head cleans it is unblieveable. To call this a 'Professioanal Series' (Brother's claim) unit is a joke. I am going to get a new HP (with duplex) & will put the MFC aside to use for black A3 copies only until I get sick of it and then dump it - I even brought the extended warranty but can't be bothered dealing with Brother anymore (New Zealand). I noticed they have further discounted them here so I'm guessing they are just trying to get rid of them

Patrick

September 3, 2013, 2:28 pm

By far the worst printer I have ever dealt with. Had the first one replaced and thsi one has had the same problems. Constantly clogs and jams on every other print. Terrible quality of print and flimsy build. Every job on it ends up with me wasting so much time unjamming and resetting it that it is now on its way to the skip.

Aresh

June 2, 2014, 4:34 am

MFC-6490CW. Perfect printer till it starts to play up. Always loses WLAN connection. It is a headache. I hope there was an easy solution to

Zerblatt

April 22, 2016, 1:25 pm

Yeah? I use it for scanning primarily, and having printed about 10 pages since I bought it, most of the ink is now gone and it asks me to refill. Wish it was a laser so that I would not have to pay a continuous cost for the self-cleaning.

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