I've used Brother products mostly at work and found them to be functional no-nonsense products with the right features for SOHO (small office / home office) users. Although the feeder of our workplace Brother MFC device is busted... but these things never last too long, not more than a few (5K-10K) 1000 pages due to dust and wear/tear.
My main reasons for buying this multi-function center (Brother MFC 465cn) device:
* Multi-page scan and fax (now I can scan in multiple documents, one by one from the feeder instead of being forced to use the flat bed, which is also an option for scanning larger or original/certificate-style documents that should not be put in a feeder). There are few/none low end products with this capability. You either get flat bed or heavy duty feeder machines that cost over $250.
==> The main value of this feature & my primary reason for buying this device is to scan all my important documents in to PDF for long term preservation. This is to reduce the number of copies of original I have to keep and anywhere access of digital documents. Not sure how well their OCR software will read the text in the documents. If it does read most of the stuff and that content is searchable via Spotlight/Google Desktop/Vista - whoohoo!
* Good software (PaperPort LE for Windows (XP & Vista) and PageManager for Mac OS X (10.4.1 and later I believe) for converting docs to PDF
* Network connectivity using Ethernet - connect it to a network hub/router and share it! And ofcourse it also supports USB.
* Decent price for refill cartridges (slightly higher than Epson & Canon but not mind bending, pocket busting prices like Lexmark). I don't care much for the inkjet color/photo printing since I don't need it and have a cheap & efficient Samsung (ML1040) black & white laser printer. For photo printing I'd rather go to retail stores since I don't print too many photos. But it can be useful for emergencies.
* Light-weight driver installation. I agree with the other reviewer that HP needs to take a good look at their software and reduce the bloat. Even Epson has some heavy duty stuff. Running their (HP, Epson & others) software at startup slows down the computer and the tray icons are just too distracting or hard to remove. Can't stress this point enough!
* A minor factor: Silver black finish, the flat top of this product makes it easier to pack and move if you lose the original box.
* And the rest, the usual: multi-function fax/scan/copy/print, multiple-memory card support, USB support.
After use review: 3-4 hours of solid usage
- Setup is a breeze on both Mac & Windows: install software, connect device and boom you are ready.
- Mac version of the software is not fun at all, gives out poor quality scans even at high resolution, chokes at handling large files and converting to PDF. PageManager looks like a OS 9 version of the software even though Activity Manager reports it to be an Intel version. Will investigate if there is any way to improve this since MacBook is my primary 'pooter.
- Windows software supplied (PaperPort LE and Brother's software) is excellent at scanning multiple pages, naming them and managing them at a basic level.
- MFC has some problems in handling non-standard paper sizes (like W-2's which are a tad wider than A4, but longer than Letter size and have words from one edge to the other, thank you IRS). Using the feeder or flatbed did not help much.
- The feeder works pretty well with original documents too, so far.
- The low height of the MFC means that it can easily fit in printer shelves of computer desks which rarely have a lot of room