The specifications of the MFC-7840W reveal it to be - in theory at least - a capable office printer. Besides USB, it has a 10/100 ethernet adapter, as well as an 802.11b/g wireless adapter, making it convenient to connect to a network.
It has an integrated modem for sending and receiving faxes, and a practically-sized paper tray capable of holding up to 250 sheets, although the out-tray is slightly less impressive at 100 sheets.
The MFC-7840W offers some good performance. Our 50-page, five per cent mono document completed in two minutes and nine seconds for a total rate of 23ppm; a more elaborate PDF complete with complex charts and images emerged at the same speed. Our 12-page Excel spreadsheet completed in just 27 seconds, which meant the page rate - 27ppm - actually exceeds Brother’s claimed top speed of 22ppm.
It’s been some time since we’ve seen a laser printer that doesn’t deliver superlative text quality, and the MFC-7840W doesn’t buck the trend. Our text documents emerged with pin-sharp characters, and even small print against shaded backgrounds was sharp and easily-legible.
Charts and graphs were also clear, although the MFC-7840W began to run into slight problems when it came to subtle gradients: our prints showed a small amount of banding, although not something that the layperson is likely to notice.
Our only major complaint when it comes to print quality is with photographic images. The MFC-7840W lays toner on heavily when it comes to dark areas that depend on a certain amount of finesse. The only texture in some of our images was, unfortunately, that of the toner lying on the page.
Speed in our copying tests was average - a 10-page document fed in through the 35-sheet ADF saw a page rate of 9ppm. But the real problem was quality: the MFC-7840W’s previously excellent performance in this area took a significant dip. Plain text printed relatively faithfully, although text on shaded backgrounds was often leaning towards illegibility.
Images with gradients - which make up a good number of charts and graphics - printed poorly, with lightly-shaded areas emerging as plain white. OCR performance was better: ScanSoft’s PaperPort 11 SE is included, and proved accurate when it came to recognising complicated pages from an issue of PC Authority magazine.
Our only major concerns about the MFC-7840W are its performance and build-quality: despite looking like the kind of equipment you’d expect to find in a modern office, some of its extremities - such as its flimsy plastic paper catchers - don’t feel like they’ll stand up to the kind of abuse dished out by unsympathetic users.
And while its print performance is good, it doesn’t offer fast enough copying to keep a busy office happy. However, if you’re looking for a printer for a home office that does everything well enough, the MFC-7840W is a good buy at under $450.
This Review appeared in the October, 2008 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine
Source: Copyright © PC Pro, Dennis Publishing