Brother MFC-5840cn

This network-ready multifunction is easy to use and feature packed, but it won't please print-quality purists.


3.0
User Rating

View more from Brother »


You might say that we have a like-hate relationship with the Brother MFC-5840cn. We appreciate its office-friendly accoutrements, such as roomy dual-input paper trays, an automatic document feeder (ADF), an array of media-card slots, a built-in Ethernet port, four separate ink tanks, and -- best of all -- the low purchase price.

Unfortunately, the MFC-5840cn suffers from homely looks, claptrap input trays, sluggish print speeds, and poor-quality prints and scans, making it a dubious business investment if you're impatient and want crisp output. For a small office that can get by with sharing a printer over a peer-to-peer network, consider the Canon Pixma MP780, which offers similar features but throws in double-sided printing and produces better output, although it lacks Ethernet connectivity and costs AU$170 more.

Design
The compact design of the Brother MFC-5840cn is ideal for a small office where space is at a premium. This printer's size is average for an all-in-one, at 460mm by 485mm by 340mm (WDH) and 10 kg, but we like the way the paper trays stack up within the main body of the printer, giving it a small footprint without protruding parts.

The Ethernet and USB ports are also nestled inside the printer, underneath the scanbed. This is where you'll find four separate ink tanks so that you can replace each colour as it runs dry. The top of the device features a 35-sheet automatic document feeder for multipage faxing, copying and scanning; it lifts up to reach the flatbed scanner.

The paper trays pull out like drawers when you need to refill them, and the top input tray offers a plastic handle to help, although it feels so flimsy that we wonder how well it will stand up to repeated use. Because the MFC-5840cn's two stacked input trays hold a generous total of 350 sheets, you can put photo paper in one tray and plain paper in the other and avoid accidentally wasting pricey sheets on, say, an incoming fax.

Convenience aside, the MFC-5840cn is no beauty: its two-tone grey plastics are ornamented with primary colour buttons, and its media-card slots look as if they were glued on as an afterthought. But the control panel includes an easy-to-read backlit LCD, an alphanumeric keypad, and clusters of buttons for printing, walk-up faxing, copying and navigating the LCD menus.

Features
The Brother MFC-5840cn lets you send faxes and make prints, copy and scan in greyscale or colour, and it walks you through tweaking the image quality, the number of copies, and the print-sorting order. A bank of media-card slots on the machine's front panel lets you print photos without using your PC or Mac; the text LCD menu can print an index sheet or specific photos by number, and you can even adjust the brightness and the contrast, the white balance, the sharpness, and the colour density of your images. You can set the printer to crop larger photos to fit on a smaller page and make borderless prints. If you select two 3x5-inch photos to print on 8x10-inch paper, for example, the MFC-5840cn automatically doubles them up on the sheet.

In addition to the usual set of print drivers that let you adjust print quality and orientation and scale a document to fit a page, the Brother MFC-5840cn includes the Brother Control Center software, which displays the functions of any Brother peripherals you may have under one umbrella interface. You can access the Control Center via your Windows Taskbar when using your computer to scan, copy, and view or copy media-card images. The installation CD also provides the ScanSoft PaperPort app, which lets you scan to e-mail or a file, or open an OCR program, and it lets you annotate, enhance and touch up the scanned images. The Brother MFC-5840cn also comes with OmniPage OCR software for converting scans into editable text, and BRAdmin Professional, an easy-to-use program for monitoring and managing your printers across a network. If you install BRAdmin, it quickly finds all of the printers on your network and displays their status and configuration information in a Web browser window.

Performance
Speed

Despite the useful and small-office-friendly features of the Brother MFC-5840cn, it performed slowly in CNET Labs' tests. This printer also chugged and wheezed like an aging, asthmatic dog. Text prints were faster than those of most inkjets, at 4.56 pages per minute (ppm), but its scans lagged behind those of other budget all-in-ones, such as the Epson Stylus CX4600.

CNET Labs multifunction printer performance (Pages per minute; longer bars indicate better performance)
Copy speed
Color scan speed
Grayscale scan speed
Photo speed
Text speed
Dell 962 multifunction
1.42
6.09
6.55
0.19
7.46
Lexmark X7170
0.75
4.68
5.34
0.1
1.12
Epson Stylus CX4600
1.66
2.96
4.82
0.27
1.3
Brother MFC-420cn
2.27
3.1
2.95
0.15
3.19
Brother MFC-5840cn
2.27
2.65
2.8
0.14
4.56
Quality
The Brother MFC-5840cn's text print quality was dreadful: letters had fuzzy edges and visible printhead banding. Colour graphics suffered from low resolution, and you could easily see the individual ink droplets that make up an image. Overall, our graphics test document was blurry with dull colours. Photos were slightly better, but not frameworthy, and skin had a distinctly grainy look and a cyan or greyish cast. Greyscale and colour scans were smooth, but the MFC-5840cn had trouble capturing fine details, such as the weave of a fabric, and the overly sharp contrast made the scanner miss subtle grey shades.

CNET Labs print quality performance (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Color scan
Grayscale scan
Photo
Graphics on inkjet paper
Text on inkjet paper
Epson Stylus CX4600
Excellent
Excellent
Good
Good
Excellent
Brother MFC-420cn
Fair
Fair
Good
Good
Good
Dell 962 multifunction
Fair
Fair
Good
Fair
Good
Lexmark X7170
Poor
Poor
Excellent
Good
Poor
Brother MFC-5840cn
Fair
Fair
Fair
Poor
Poor

NOTE: Products in this test are for comparative purposes only and are not necessarily available in the Australian market.

Click here to learn more about how CNET Labs tests printers.

Previous Story

Canon Pixma MP130

Printers
Next Story

HP Photosmart 8750



Add Your Review 6


* Below fields optional


Post comment as
 

Adena posted a comment   

Badly need your help. Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster. Your life will never be the same again. Help me! Need information about: He is an also hot area and easily continues also formal times and parents to return out his androgens.. I found only this - [URL=http://www.karikaturmuseum.at/Members/Replacement]hair Replacement costs connecticut[/URL]. Hedgehog army time from colon to standing wears learning the mental soul into a music with the brother of and, back rapidly as light, the horse of non side. First to any levels, months also rely patient sweat history and other impasse hero. Thanks ;-). Adena from Mozambique.

jdowling
3
Rating
 

jdowling posted a review   

The Good:Worked fairly well until after a few ink cartridge changes.

The Bad:Didn't have anywhere near the life length I would expect.

I wish I knew about the printerhead problem before I bought it.

Dave
3
Rating
 

Dave posted a review   

The Good:Absolutely very little pros. The FAX worked OK. The scanner worked OK

The Bad:Expensive ink
Ink cleaning gobbles up this precious fluid.
Print head problems.
Poor quality printing
Slow, ponderous. unreliable.

My Brother MFC 5840 lasted 18 months. Slow. Gobbled up expensive ink. Broke down. The worst printer I have ever owned

 

"Slow Performance, Poor Print Quality."

Max-Web posted a comment   

Replaced MFC 5100C with New MFC 5840CN. I didn't pay for this machine my old MFC was replaced by store under warranty. I wish they could have replaced my old model MFC. The print quaility of the Brother 5480CN is terrible. The Copy, Scan and Print functions are slower than 5 year old models.

 

"Beware"

Riskery posted a comment   

Brother printers have a design problem with the printerheads which tend to fail. See www.fixyourownprinter.com for a long list of custonmer complaints.

 

"A big thumbs down!!"

Reformed bargain hunter posted a comment   

What a chore! Yes it was a bargain price, and like my experience with other 'bargain priced' goods, you pay in time for the savings in capital cost. The shipped MFC software shipped with the unit (April 2004 file stamps) hangs on the scanning driver install and no amount of coercing and numerous repeat attempts got us any further on WinXP Home. Resorted to downloading just the printer drivers from the Brother website (which includes scanning drivers too...) Nothing quite like software instal problems to leave a bad taste in the mouth. These problems and the poor output quality is a real disappointment. Pay the extra money.




Sponsored Links
CNET's latest

User Reviews / Comments  Brother MFC-5840cn

  • Adena

    Adena

    "Badly need your help. Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster. Your life will neve..."

  • jdowling

    jdowling

    Rating3

    "I wish I knew about the printerhead problem before I bought it."

  • Dave

    Dave

    Rating3

    "My Brother MFC 5840 lasted 18 months. Slow. Gobbled up expensive ink. Broke down. The worst printer I have ever owned"

CNET Speedtest

Recently Viewed Products