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High capacity and speed
Fast, single-pass, double-sided scanning
Full feature set at accessible price
Easy, universal connectivity
Minor spotting and printing artifacts
Lost detail on high-resolution images
The Brother MFC-L6800DW is a perfect middle ground between a home-office printer and a fully featured small-business copier. It offers fast, high-volume, monochrome printing and scanning at a very reasonable price.
Brother’s MFC-L6800DW is an imposing, slate-grey tower that looks like either a monstrous home printer or a miniature office photocopier, depending on your perspective. This duality between home and professional informs every aspect of its design. The printer offers elegant aesthetics and impressive features you’d expect from a professional printer, but at a scale and cost that is totally attainable for a serious home office or small business.
We rigorously tested the MFC-L6800DW, putting it through its paces in printing and scanning a variety of media to see where it was strongest, and where Brother had to cut corners to hit that relatively accessible price. In the end, we were pleased to find smart, focused features that make this an ideal all-in-one for high-volume printing and scanning.
The MFC-L6800DW’s design is sleek and understated. Relatively tall and boxy, it echoes the form-factor of a typical office printer/photocopier, but this isn’t your traditional light gray or beige piece of office equipment. Instead, it boasts a dark, slate-gray finish more reminiscent of The Matrix than Office Space, giving it a touch of class.
This high-end quality is particularly apparent on the sleek interface. The number pad and power light blend completely into the matte grey body whenever not in use. Standing at 20 inches, the printer’s height also allows it to have a conveniently small footprint relative to its overall bulk. It has an impressive base paper capacity of 570 sheets that can be expanded up to 2650 with optional trays, which are available for purchase from the manufacturer.
Relatively tall and boxy, it echoes the form of a traditional office printer/photocopier, but its dark, slate gray finish is darker than the traditional light grays and beiges of office equipment, giving it a touch of class.
Setting up the MFC-L6800DW was very easy. The instructions are set out in a quick setup guide, which is included along with the full manual. The process of unboxing, connecting to the local wireless network and printing an initial test page took a mere fifteen minutes. However, it then did take an additional five to ten minutes of searching for, downloading, and updating the appropriate drivers to gain access to the MFC-L6800 DW’s full suite of abilities. This includes vital capabilities such as double-sided printing and scanning.
The MFC-L6800DW’s printing, while limited to black and white, is fast, functional, and optimized for bulk documents. When printing single-sided, standard text documents, we were able to very nearly reach the rated 48 pages-per-minute speed. Printing double-sided documents slowed down to about 20 pages-per-minute, a fair reduction.
Text documents were of reasonably high and consistent quality, Throughout the rigorous testing process, we closely examined each page for artifacts. Generally, there were only a handful of minor, occasional artifacts, often nothing more severe than a speck of stray ink.
The MFC-L6800DW’s printing, while limited to black and white, is fast, functional, and optimized for bulk documents.
The printer handles images less well. We noticed a certain slight and inescapable graininess breaking up smooth gradients and tiny details in photographs. This isn’t ideal, but no worse than you would typically expect from a black and white laser printer. If you want high-quality photo printing, you’ll need to get a printer that specializes in that.
The MFC-L6800DW’s legal-size flatbed scanner is fast and effective. That said, we did have some trouble getting the image to line up quite right when scanning from large-format books. The real star of the show, however, is the top-mounted automatic document feeder, which can scan double-sided documents on a single pass at an impressive clip. At the simplest settings for black and white documents, the feeder can reach up to 50 double-sided pages per minute. The tray holds up to 80 pages at once, which might sound low in light of the scanning speed, but it’s also very easy to add on additional pages as the scanner runs.
The real star of the show, however, is the top-mounted automatic document feeder, which can scan double-sided documents on a single pass at an impressive clip.
The fax quality of the MFC-L6800DW lines up with its scanning and printing capabilities, achieving high efficiency for simple documents at the slight cost to fine-grained quality in more detailed images. It has a total memory of up to 500 pages as a buffer in case of any printing issues, and works equally over a phone line (with a standard 33.6k modem) or by way of a PC.
As mentioned above, connecting the MFC-L6800DW to the Wi-Fi network was fast and easy. All you have to do is follow on-screen prompts from the built-in touchscreen. The MFC-L6800DW also supports the standard suite of additional connection options: Ethernet or directly connecting via USB, as well as the Apple AirPrint, Google Cloud Print, and Mopria mobile printing apps.
Brother’s own iPrint & Scan app allows for nice touches like scanning directly to your mobile phone’s storage or remote ink-level monitoring. The user interface on the printer’s 4.85-inch touchscreen is clear and functional, with large, legible icons and crisp text. The touchscreen might feel a touch laggy if you’re used to swiping modern smartphones all day, but it’s more than responsive enough for the demands.
The MFC-L6800DW is listed on the manufacturer’s website for $699.99 and is usually $100 less on Amazon. That price point might sound is substantial for a home printer, but this machine is essentially a home-scale small business all-in-one. For this volume, speed, and quality of printing and with all of the included connectivity features, $700 is actually quite low.
In addition to the sensible cost, you get the benefit of the savings that come from the printer’s high-capacity single color of toner. The included high-yield toner is rated to print 8000 pages, which averages out to be one to two cents per page when buying Brother’s official replacements a la carte for a listed $130, with even greater efficiency possible by upgrading to a larger toner replacement that prints up to 12,000 pages for $150.
For the cost and features offered, Brother’s MFC-L6800DW punches well above its weight when looking at the competition, splitting the difference between cost and quality in an appealingly pro-consumer ratio.
HP’s LaserJet Enterprise series offers a similar range of features for an all-in-one printer/scanner/fax of this size, but at over twice the cost for a model with comparable capabilities. HP is a well-established brand within the space, and is slightly better-reviewed generally, but Brother beats HP on price with very little sacrifice to quality and features.
Lexmark’s analog in terms of features is also comparably priced. Xerox’s WorkCentre substantially undercuts Brother’s price for similar capabilities, although with a slower overall printing speed and less flexibility with paper stock sizes. However, in addition to suffering from unsightly aesthetics, these alternatives have been the subject of far more complaints throughout their customer reviews (including reported problems like failing components, connectivity issues, and spotty support from the manufacturer). Based on our research, Brother manages to hit the same or better performances and specs with fewer overall issues.
Small-business quality at a home-office price.
The Brother MFC-L6800DW strikes a perfect balance between speed, features, and cost for a printer for any budget-minded small-business or home-office. Where the printing speed and tray capacity may be excessive for average home users, comparably featured business offerings frequently cost twice as much for the same quality and capabilities.
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