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Tuesday, 02 December 2008 05:54

Brother brings A3 'œmulti-function centres' to life

All-in-one’s or multi-function centres (MFCs) – call them what you will –can print, scan, copy and usually fax, too. Now Brother has decided it’s time to bring one to market that can handle A3 sized paper!

I remember back in the early 90s getting a Canon bubblejet printer that was able to handle A3 sized paper, but in those days all the unit could handle was printing.

Back the “all-in-one” market was very young, and things such as “borderless printing” were still to come.

These days, “multi-function centres” (MFCs) or “all-in-one’s” (AIOs) are very common thanks to the wonders of convergence, with each function performing as well or even better than standalone devices.

Now Brother, who makes MFCs for consumers and businesses, has decided to offer three new MFCs that can handling A3 and A4 paper as standard, with one new A4-only model as well.

Gabriel Hamid, Brother’s General Manager for Customer Service and Marketing said: "Brother has always had great vision and has anticipated the needs of businesses by developing necessary solutions; this series is designed to make A3 printing accessible to everyone.   These colour inkjet all-in-one printers are easy to use, highly efficient but more importantly, cost effective, adding significant value to small and medium-sized workplaces." 

Brother says some of the “benefits and applications made possible by A3 print, fax, copy and scan include:”

- Eye-catching A3 signage

- Large floor plans and diagrams on a single sheet

- Promotional sales posters with bigger images and bolder text allowing businesses to print in-house rather than needing to pay suppliers

- Multiple fold brochures, flyers and marketing collaterals

- Large layout of mind maps and flowcharts for easier viewing.  Large replication can also be achieved through A3 copying, scanning or even faxing

- Large layout of financial data and spreadsheets for easy viewing

- Professionally printed presentation boards, colour business proposals and mock-ups

- Customisable and professionally printed restaurant menus and info materials for frequent changes of promotional items

- Faxes up to A3 size via an A3 document glass and Automatic Document Feeder (ADF)

The two flagship A3 MFCs are the Brother MFC-6490CW (which can print, copy, scan and fax) and the DCP-6690CW (which omits fax capabilities but does the rest).

Brother says its “hero model” in its “professional series” is the MFC-6490CW. Featuring wired and wireless capabilities, and a 3.3” colour widescreen LCD display, Brother is promoting this models ability to make “enhancing and editing photos easy, with large font help menus and convenient fax previews.” 

It has print speeds of up to 35 pages per minute (ppm) black and 28ppm colour as well as unattended fax, copy and scan functions, a 50-page Automatic Document Feeder (ADF) and two separate paper trays holding up to 400 sheets for “hassle-free” management of different size paper formats.

Brother is also promoting the fact this model uses “high-yield ‘Innobella’ ink cartridges, ensuring users only need to replace the colour that is empty, for highly cost-effective printing.”

The MFC-6490CW will retail for AUD $499.

What about the other new Brother models? Please read on to page 2.

The DCP-6690CW doesn’t have fax capabilities, but does everything else. It also has wired and wireless capabilities, and has an ever bigger colour widescreen LCD at 4.2-inches, which “provides easy navigation to access its diverse functions, which include viewing photos individually, as a slideshow, or even editing them without a computer.”

Otherwise the features seem quite similar to the MFC-6490CW, with the only other detail being that the DCP-6690CW is an “Officeworks” exclusive, with Officeworks being an Australian office supplies chain like Staples in the US, for those non-Australians reading this article and wondering.

This model will also retail for AUD $499 through Officeworks stores, although the other Brother models are available in the wider retail space as has always been the case.

Then there’s the Brother MFC-5890CN which retails for AUD $349. It omits the wireless capabilities but it still capable of A3 printing, scanning, copying and faxing, thus being a more affordable option for those that simply don’t need the added convenience of wireless network printing.

The final new MFC in the range is the A4-only MFC-5490CN. Coming in at AUD $249, it’s beig promoted as “for basic office use” to print, fax, copy and scan up to A4-sized documents. It likewise has no wireless features.

Brother says that the “key features” of its professional series includes:

- Network-ready: all models are powerful office tools that can be shared over a network with multiple users

- Large capacity paper trays and ADF

- Direct print - USB Flash memory drive and PictBridge compatibility

- Fast colour and monochrome output, up to 35ppm monochrome and 28pmm colour

- Brother’s PhotoCapture Centre for media cards

- Brilliant colour output at up to 1,200 x 6,000dpi

- Four separate Innobella ink cartridges (designed so that users only needs to replace the colour that is empty)

- Comply with internationally renowned ENERGY STAR environmental standards

Will Brother’s A3 printers set off a frenzy of competition in the A3 multi-function space in 2009?

Only if these models are successful, I’d say, but given they make A3 printing affordable, there could well be a number of businesses that will choose to take advantage of A3 capabilities in an “all-in-one” device when it’s next time to upgrade.

After all, standalone A3 printers aren’t new, and businesses that need to print at this size would clearly already have some kind of A3 printer. It’s just that putting A3 into an MFC opens up A3 possibilities for many more people, and it seems likely that business people who need it will happily take it up.


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.



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