August 19, 2011 by Sarah Meyer Reads (16,701)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Service & Support
    • 7
    • Print Quality
    • 7
    • Design / Ease of Use
    • 9
    • Performance / Print Speed
    • 8
    • Features
    • 8
    • Operational Costs
    • 8
    • Total Score:
    • 7.83
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10


Setting up the MFC-9970cdw
Brother includes a Quick Setup Guide in the original packaging that walks through the initial setup and installation of the MFC-9970cdw.

You’ll go through the usual business first: unpack the printer, prepare the toner, load the paper, connect power cord/telephone line, setup language/date/time/fax info and then choose the connection type.

The MFC-9970cdw can be set up via a USB, wired (Ethernet) or wireless connection. I chose the wireless installation since it was offered as I do with all review units we receive. If you don’t have a WPS/AOSS symbol on your router, you’ll need to manually setup the wireless via the control panel on the MFC-9970cdw. Scroll through to find the network menu, then select WLAN followed by Setup Wizard. From here, you’ll be asked to select the correct network from a list of available SSIDs then input your network key, if applicable.

A connection result report is automatically printed confirming the wireless connection. At this point, you’ll need to install the drivers and software provided on the installation CD. The CD will open up a wizard that will take you through the basic setup – choose language, installation method (we picked the full software package for the purposes of review) and then you’ll need to confirm the connection type.

Once the wizard has installed the software, it will automatically try to connect to the printer. Confirm the device is connected and then select the correct device from the list. Once the installation is completed, you will need to restart your computer.

Ease of Use
The MFC-9970cdw is a multifunction printer, so it includes Brother’s Control Center 4 software. Like we saw during the MFC-7860dw review, users can select between the home mode and advanced mode with the difference between the two being that users can configure detailed settings and save them. No need to waste brain cells trying to decide since, if you don’t like your choice, you can change it later.

Since we caught the advance mode during the MFC-7860dw review, I thought I’d check out the home mode this time around. The layout is different with a larger popup window and orange styling as opposed to the blue layout seen in the advanced mode, but more of the main options are still there: scan and PC fax software as well as device settings, troubleshooting and support. However, the PC Copy option is not available.

When using home mode, scans are filtered directly into CC4 and users get the chance to edit them before saving, printing, opening with third party applications, sending via email or converting to a text file.

I had no issue receiving or sending faxes with the MFC-9970cdw, and like the MFC-7860dw, there are many options for setting up the fax machine via the printer and through the PC fax. PC fax is pretty interesting because users can send images saved on their PC or scan an image to their PC using the MFC-9970cdw and then send it as a fax to a client or customer using the PC fax option in the CC4. For users new to this technology, there are how-to guides on how to send and receive documents and images using the PC fax feature.

I was super excited to see that Brother had included a front side USB port with the MFC-9970cdw since this was a feature I missed on the budget friendly MFC-7860dw. With the MFC-9970cdw, users can pop in their flash drive and print any saved PDFs or JPEGS as well as scan to their flash drive in a variety of formats. I would like to be able to print word documents in the future.

Another handy feature for businesses dealing with sensitive or even confidential files is secure print. Secure Print allows users to print confidential or sensitive documents/materials, by opening the print preference menu, selecting the advanced tab and clicking Secure Print. Choose a password as well as a username (or just use the default computer name). Then hit ‘print’ and the data is sent to the printer.

When you have time to get to the MFC-9970cdw, select the username and the job you want to print from the Secure Print menu. Enter your password, select print and then choose how many copies. This feature is easy to use, accessible to all computers on the network and keeps documents private.

Since I set up the MFC-9970cdw over a network connection, I can access the embedded web server by putting the IP address into my web browser.

The web server setup is nearly identical to what we’ve seen on previous models including the HL-4570cdwt and the MFC-7860dw. There are basic pages that can be seen by anyone including a home page with real time status updates and data information. There is also a Maintenance Information page and Lists/Reports.

On the MFC-9970cdw, there are eight other pages that can be locked. Printer Settings, General Setup, Fax Settings, I-Fax Settings, USB Direct I/F and Copy Settings fall under the Green Key while Administrator Settings and Network Configuration fall under the Red Key. With the key pages, admins can determine who gets rights to which areas. The default passwords are found by selecting either key until they are changed by the admin.

Print Speed and Quality Tests
In the print speed and quality tests, I noticed many similarities between the MFC-9970cdw and the HL-4570cdwt, which makes sense since they were announced at the same time.

Brother advertises print speeds up to 30 ppm in both black and color for the MFC-9970cdw and I found that to be accurate during our testing. When printing two copies of our 40-page black and white text document in the default print mode, the MFC-9970cdw averaged print speeds up to 30 ppm with a first page out in eight seconds and an overall print time of three minutes. I saw no difference in speed when printing color documents or when printing in toner saver mode; the first page out was just as quick – around eight seconds – with an average print speed of 30 ppm.

I noticed an occasional pause in the middle of very large jobs, almost like the printer was catching its breath. It usually lasted 15 to 20 seconds and slowed print speeds down only slightly. In the end, the printer usually made up for the pause in the overall print times.

The MFC-9970cdw does offer automatic duplexing. It took just under three minutes to print our 40-page black and white text document double sided with a first page out in about 20 seconds and average print speed of 8 ppm (16 pages double sided).

The print quality was good when printing both black and color text and images. I printed a full color brochure on the MFC-9970cdw and scanned it in for viewing purposes. The colors were bright and varied and the text was crisp. I did notice some flaws in high resolution images where it seemed you could see the rollers in the prints.

The toner saver mode draft quality was quite good. I would recommend users print using the toner saver mode as much as possible when printing in black and white or when printing rough drafts in color.

The Brother MFC-9970cdw default print, left, The Brother MFC-9970cdw draft print, right



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