Thoughts on Brother MFC490cw

I recently picked up a Brother MFC490cw for a good price. I’ve been in the market for a printer with networking capabilities for a couple of weeks now. My existing HP 2600N is nearly out of color toners but has a brand new black toner. I checked out the price for the color toners and figured it’s cheaper to get a new machine rather than purchasing new color toners. I also wouldn’t mind a wireless networking option.

So what I was mainly looking for was networking capabilities. I found the MFC490cw to have what I needed plus more. Here’s my initial impression of the machine after a day of use.


  • Draft quality copies are fast.
  • Both wire and wireless networking capabilities.
  • Scanning capabilities over the network and it works on both Windows and OS X.
  • Low cost cartridges (4 total – black, magenta, yellow, cyan).
  • Good price for an all-in-one with networking features.
  • Small form factor for an all-in-one.
  • Once the machine is set up on the network, installation of the printer on your computer is easy.
  • Memory card reader can read SDHC.
  • USB direct print available.
  • USB port is hidden inside, underneath the scanner – it’s a good design idea so that the USB cable doesn’t stick out as much and is cleaner.


  • After a copy session, there’s a lag for about 5 seconds where you can operate the machine.
  • Photo quality isn’t all that great.
  • If the 4×6 paper isn’t positioned properly on the paper tray, even if you select 4×6 paper size on the machine’s interface, it will still use the 8×11 paper (this is using the memory card reader and direct print features).
  • A little noisy for an inkjet.
  • The flatbed scanner seems like it’ll break easy.
  • On board interface was a little confusing while trying to have it recognize my WPA enabled network.


  • For PC users, you can send a fax using your computer to create the document. This will save you from printing the document then faxing it. I wish they had it available for OS X but then again, I hardly fax things but still a cool feature to have.
  • I printed a photo using Kodak paper. It didn’t come out to well. The Kodak paper sucks. I got the same results on other printers using the Kodak paper and I got the same crappy results. Lesson: Do not buy/use Kodak paper.
  • I had somewhat of a hard time setting up the machine on the network. I am using an Apple router, WPA/WPA2 security, MAC address filtering, and for the printer I assigned it its own IP address. It still wouldn’t pick up the SSID and I have it broadcasting. I finally turned it off and waited a few minutes. I ran the network setup again and this time it found it and I was good to go. I guess power cycling it did the trick.

Even with a good amount of dislikes for the first 24 hours, I still think it’s a decent machine for the price. Brother did not short change OS X users with features. Only thing it didn’t have was the PC fax capability that is available for Windows users. I’ve already seen generic ink cartridges for this machine and since I won’t be printing much photos on here it looks like it’s the route I will take when replace the ink.

Here’s an image I printed out using Kodak photo paper and scanned via wireless network (600×600 dpi and 24 bit color).

Check out Abby’s hair, there’s so much distortion. It seems like it can’t handle black properly. I printed another copy on Brother paper BP71 and the results were better but still cannot compare to what I normally get with my Canon i900D printer. I didn’t expect Brother to be my photo printer replacement anyway. Again, still a good deal for what I paid for and what I’ll be using it for. So if you can get this printer under $90, it’s a good deal for low to medium amount of jobs.

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