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Brother MFC-9970CDW review


A colour laser MFP with plenty of features, but it’s let down by slow colour speeds and poor quality

Review Date: 9 May 2012

Reviewed By: Dave Mitchell

Price when reviewed: £701 (£841 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
3 stars out of 6

Features & Design
4 stars out of 6

Value for Money
3 stars out of 6

2 stars out of 6

The MFC-9970CDW is Brother’s flagship colour laser MFP, aimed at workgroups of up to ten users. This compact unit will sit on a desk, yet claims print speeds of 28ppm in colour. It includes automatic duplexing, has an intuitive 5in colour touchscreen, and it’s also 802.11g Wi-Fi-ready.

The web interface could do with an update, but in time we could add users, create fax speed-dial lists and use the Secure Lock feature to restrict user access to various functions.

Scans can be directed to a local USB stick, an email address, the printer, an FTP server or a CIFS share, and for the latter two you can create up to eight profiles. Files can be printed from a USB device, but it would only recognise PDF, JPEG and TIFF files.

Brother bundles good software, with ControlCenter4 providing tools for accessing copy, scan, OCR and fax functions direct from the desktop, and Nuance PaperPort 12 SE for scanning and managing documents.

Brother MFC-9970CDW

Performance is a real mixed bag, though. After a ten-second wait for the first page, our basic 28-page print took less than a minute, but colour printing was slow, with our 24-page DTP-style document averaging a worrying 9ppm at both 600dpi and the interpolated 2,400dpi.

Print quality varied, too. Although text was clean and sharp, mono photos suffered from poor detail in darker areas, colour prints lacked vibrancy, and banding was noticeable at the higher resolution.

Finally, there are three capacities of toner cartridge. With the standard cartridges mono and colour pages cost 2p and 12p, dropping to 1.5p and 7.5p with the 6,000-page alternatives.

The MFC-9970CDW offers plenty for the price – and low running costs. Brother was voted the best printer vendor in PC Pro’s Excellence Awards 2011, but for this particular printer we can’t overlook the poor quality and colour speeds.

Author: Dave Mitchell

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