The control panel sits on a ledge above the recessed output slot, with its five-line, 22-character backlit LCD flanked by clusters of buttons for copying and scanning. A mushroom-cap-shaped scanner bed and an automatic document feeder top off the device. You can connect the DCP-8040 to a Mac or PC via a parallel port or the up-to-date USB 2.0, cables not included. Brother also sells an Ethernet option for $200.
The DCP-8040 gets kudos for a design that includes strong, deep handgrips at the base and under the scanner bed, making it easy to move the 35-pound machine. The narrow base of the device frees up room on your desk. We also like the control panel's easy-to-read backlit LCD, as well as the time-saving buttons designated for frequently used features. The scanner lid slides up about an inch on its hinges, but the lid won't come off to let you scan chunky objects or books.
Design aside, the DCP-8040's installation can be a little rocky. In our informal tests, we ran into a glitch connecting the multifunction device to a PC: it stopped between loading the software bundle and the drivers, so we had to relaunch it. The DCP-8040 runs on Windows 98 and up, plus Mac OS 8.6 and higher.Walking through the simple LCD menus and numeric keypad on the Brother DCP-8040 won't tax your technical skills, and most features beyond setup have their own buttons. For example, you can switch paper sources with the Tray Select button, collate a copy job with the Sort button, or shrink and copy multiple documents onto one page with another button. The LCD allows a clear display of your choices, such as the number of copies to print.
For more paper capacity than the 250 sheets provided by the DCP-8040, you can stack the machine on top of a second 250-sheet paper tray for $200. The DCP-8045D, a similar model with a 50-page auxiliary tray and an internal duplexer, costs $100 more. Brother provides an adequate 32MB of standard memory and will support a whopping 160MB if you need to expand. The only thing the DCP-8040 lacks, of course, is the ability to send and receive paper and electronic faxes. You may be able to make up for that with the fax modem in your computer or with a standalone fax machine.
Brother bundles a useful software collection with this multifunction. For Windows, you get ScanSoft PaperPort, a document-archiving database with the OmniPage optical character recognition engine, which converts scanned pages into live text. On the Mac, Presto PageManager provides both document archiving and OCR.Overall, the Brother DCP-8040 performed well and quietly in CNET Labs' tests at its factory-default settings, which you can adjust to improve output and performance.
Speedwise, the DCP-8040 produced 15.5 pages per minute (ppm) of text and 15.2ppm of graphics, ranking among the fastest multifunction lasers we've seen. The winner in this category, the Brother MFC-8220, scored 16.2ppm for text and equaled the MFC-8040's graphics printing rate.
Besides speed, the DCP-8040 also offers decent print quality. In our tests, text was too bright but otherwise crisp and sharp, with even the tiniest font sizes legible to the naked eye. The brightness didn't mar the text, but it undermined the graphics quality, with jagged transitions between colors, imprecise shading, and sporadic banding.