- Review Price: £487.62
Brother has long been known for its range of colour fax and multi-function machines, but it has recently expanded its catalogue of colour laser printers and multi-functions, too. The DCP-9040CN is a Digital Copier Printer, so the primary market is as a colour photocopier. However, it’s geared up for both local and network printing, so could also be used as the basis of small office or workgroup printing.
As multi-function machines move from generation to generation, they look less like printers with scanners stuck on top. Brother’s industrial design makes some effort to blend the lines of the two components and pages which eject from the top of the printer section are easy to retrieve from the gap under the scanner.
The scanner itself has a 50-sheet Auto Document Feeder (ADF) on top, but the flatbed glass can take pages up to A4, too. At the front is the control panel, which has a conventional design. There’s a two-line by 16-character, backlit LCD display, a four-way button for menu control with extra buttons and indicators ranged around it, a keypad and three function keys, for colour and mono copying and to stop a running job.
At the extreme left there are buttons for enlarging and reducing copies, choosing the input tray and selecting quality. Here there’s also a dedicated Scan button and a Secure Print button, which holds print jobs until a four-digit pass code is entered. This is ideal for handling sensitive documents, where you need to be at the printer when they print.
A 50-sheet multi-purpose tray pulls down from the front of the printer section, above the main paper tray, which can take up to 250 sheets. A second, 500-sheet paper tray can be fitted underneath, as an option. At the back are sockets for USB 2.0 and Ethernet, both of which are standard.
The drum unit comes pre-installed, but you have to fit each of the four toner cartridges into a rack which slides out from the front, before you can start printing. You also have to remove a huge number of tapes, spacers and protective sheets from various parts of the machine. We’ve never come across a device with more and there’s very little guidance in the quick start guide to show where they’re all located.
There’s nothing out of the ordinary in the software installation, as long as you remember to install the software before connecting the device. A full, Special Edition version of PaperPort 11 is provided and this is a good tool for handling most scan jobs, as well as general document management duties.
Brother provides both emulated PCL and PostScript drivers and these include support for multiple pages per sheet, watermarks – though not overprints – and manual duplexing.
Brother claims up to 20ppm in both black and colour print, but we saw around 12ppm for both. This is still reasonable, particularly if Brother is quoting draft speeds – all our tests are conducted in normal print modes. A single-page, colour copy took just 17 seconds to complete from both the flatbed and the ADF; a useful turn of speed. Finally, a 15 x 10cm photo took 23 seconds at the device’s top resolution of 2400 x 600dpi, but only 15 seconds when we reduced this to the default 600dpi.
The prints we produced were good quality. Text is dense and black with no noticeable spatter and even small character sizes are reproduced smoothly. Colour backgrounds are also generally clean and dense, though there’s some mis-registration of black text over coloured backgrounds.
The photocopy we took of a printed page was not so good, though, with black text noticeably thinner and lighter than on the original and background colours looking slightly blotchy. Photographic output is ok, though there’s some faint banding and the slower, high resolution output is definitely clearer than the default 600dpi.
Some of the error messages the DCP-9040CN produces are a bit misleading. When we pulled out the paper tray to add more paper, we got the message ‘No tray. Reinstall tray’, when something like ‘Paper tray open’ would have been more appropriate.
Consumable costs come from the four toner cartridges and a separate photoconductor drum. Black toner is available in 2,500 and 5,000-sheet cartridges and colour in 1,500 and 4,000-sheet ones. The drum is claimed to be good for 17,000 pages.
Brother supplies are reasonably expensive and even when using the higher capacity toners produce costs of 2.24p for a five per cent black page and 8.06p for colour at 20 per cent coverage with five per cent of each colour. These prices are on the high side, when compared with colour laser devices from the likes of HP and Kyocera Mita.
The Brother DCP-9040CN is a well-designed colour laser, multifunction machine which does pretty much what the company claims. For all that, it’s not particularly cheap to buy or run. Print quality is slightly above average and print speeds are good, but there’s little expansion potential, if your company grows.
Score in detail
Print Speed 8
Print Quality 8