Sitting at the top of Brother's 7000 series, the MFC-7840W doesn't do much to justify an extra $200 over the range's base model. A mono-laser multifunction built for small offices, the unit is similar to both the MFC-7340 and MFC-7440N. The key thing distinguishing this multifunction is the inclusion of both Ethernet and Wi-Fi connectivity. Although the addition of Wi-Fi does expand placement options within an office, we don't think it really justifies the price hike.
The unit has a 250-page capacity paper tray — sufficient for normal office use — but an inadequate output tray, which can affect productivity. Connectivity is achieved through USB 2.0, Ethernet and Wi-Fi, making it the most versatile of the 7000 range. Unfortunately, auto-duplex is still absent from this device, which impacts on cost effectiveness.
The MFC-7840W retains the series' fantastic consumable efficiency, costing an average 4.8c per page. Still, the fact that the drum requires removal every time the user replaces the toner is a little unsettling.
At $599, the MFC-7840W begins to ascend into the mid-range of laser multifunctions, facing off against lower-end colour lasers and competitive mono lasers. Apart from its connectivity, the unit doesn't have much to challenge its competition with — with no duplex and a pityingly slow 14.4Kbps fax, many users looking for a serious business machine will pass this one by.
But for those who need Wi-Fi, the MFC-7840W is simple enough for even novices to use. Wireless connectivity is configured through the unit itself, using its two-line LED screen. Connection can either be ad-hoc or using an existing wireless network; we found the latter to be much easier. The multifunction will automatically recognise existing routers, and its support for all conventional wireless security standards makes it able to connect to almost any router. Printer drivers and software will still need to be installed on any computers being used with the multifunction, but this is easily accomplished.
Print speed is, as with the other two models, average but consistent across quality settings. Across its three quality settings — ranging from 300dpi to 1200dpi — the MFC-7840W manages to print at an average 22.2 pages per minute. Many competing units will easily produce faster results using their draft quality modes, but the MFC-7840W's ability to print 22.2ppm at 1200dpi is definitely commendable.
Text produced by the MFC-7840W is pristine; text printing is this unit's key strength. Printed documents have clean and tidy text with nothing jarring or irregular; however, this is almost mandatory for a printer at this price point.
Better scan quality would have been a plus. The MFC-7840W is adequate for everyday document scanning. However, image scanning reveals the multifunction's tendency to darken an image, resulting in a loss of quality in some cases; it is still good enough for simple scanning needs.