The $299 Brother MFC-7860DW monochrome laser printer is an all-in-one solution for offices that don't generally produce graphics prints, but require a versatile machine that can operate as a standalone fax machine, copier, and scanner in addition to its printing duties. Armed with a 35-page autodocument feeder (ADF) for multipage scanning and a duplexer on the back that can flip sheets for automatic double-sided printing, this device earns a recommendation for its straightforward design and reliable performance.
Strictly based on aesthetics, the Brother MFC-7860DW won't inspire as many oohs and ahhs compared to competing monochrome laser multifunctions like the HP LaserJet Pro M1217nfw, but it's certainly no ugly duckling, either.
The bottom half of the printer is based on the same design as the popular HL-2270DW, but the larger paper path, control panel, and ADF on top pushes its dimensions to 2.7 inches wide and 19.4 inches tall. It weighs 25.6 pounds, but textured cutouts on both sides and the bottom of the chassis make it easier to move around the office.
The paper tray that pulls out of a drawer on the bottom of the machine can carry 250-sheets of paper, but you can store an extra 35 pages in the autodocument feeder for printing from the scanner. There's also a single-sheet manual feed in the center console hidden behind the hinged logo window that accepts irregular media like executive sizes, envelopes, custom sizes, and more.
The MF-7860DW's feeder capacity coupled with a 10,000-sheet monthly print volume (as recommended by the manufacturer) should be enough for small offices that print around 30 pages a day. That said, be sure that this number works for your workflow before buying it, as Brother doesn't offer an extra paper tray to increase its overall capacity.
The printer's cockpit offers just enough rubber shortcut buttons to the features you'll access the most on the machine, including quick-access fax, scan, and copy buttons, a number pad for dialing fax numbers, and eight speed-dial buttons as well. You also get selected function buttons for the individual features that let you adjust the resolution of fax images, enlarge or reduce the dimensions of a copy, and toggle duplexing to save money with double-sided prints.
A simple monochrome LCD in the center panel shows pertinent information, and the layout of the whole panel is organized and intuitive to use. The only omission is that the printer lacks a memory card reader and a USB port, preventing walk-up access using flash drives and expansion cards. I suppose this is because Brother doesn't expect users to output photos on the MFC-7860DW. Still, the feature is still useful for guest users that don't have time to install the printer on their network.