(Updated to reflect experience and the updated version "C" firmware.)
This Brother color MFC is a reasonable choice if you are looking for a wired or wireless networked high speed laser-like color printer, copier, scanner and fax all-in-one, but do not need duplex (two-sided) printing/faxing/scanning. Personally, I duplex almost everything to save paper, and so would prefer the model Brother MFC-9840CDW Color Laser Multifunction Center with Wireless Interface and Duplex which is a small price increase over this one. (You can manually duplex with the MFC-9320CW by printing odd numbered pages, taking the output stack and placing it in the paper tray, and the printing the even number pages. But, just one paper jam would ruin that process.)
I have a variety of complaints about the machine and the software which prevent me from giving it more than three stars.
Note that laser-class printers are no substitute for photo printers. Do not expect photo quality color (or even a very wide color gamut) or the ability to print on photo paper. That is not what this class of device is for. If photo quality is your expectation, look to inkjet photo printers. (The scanner on this device is photo-quality, though.)
My rating is based on the reasonable expectations of what a color laser is supposed to do: spot color, color graphics, mixed text and graphics documents, reasonable color copies.... and all water resistant, due to the fused toner.
Both wired and wireless networking worked well, although the instructions for the wireless setup are written by and for a geek, so if you're not a techie, you'll probably need a tech friend to help if your wireless network is secure, with hidden SID and password. It is really annoying that the device prints two sheets of paper when you change the network settings, one with the wired and one with the wireless settings. That should be a user option.
The printer comes with four toner cartridges, each good for about 1,000 pages according to the instructions. But, there is some kind of bug in the firmware or the software. After printing only a handful of pages, both the device and the software monitor reported that the Cyan cartridge was almost empty. The color bar charts showed it empty. But, the web-based control panel for the printer showed all cartridges full. The only way to get rid of the Cyan empty messages in all places was to turn the MFC off and then back on again. Installing the software onto another computer on the network caused the message to come back - this time saying that both Cyan and Yellow were empty. Updating the firmware from the delivered version "A" to the current downloadable version "C" seems to have fixed this problem.
Print quality is quite good, but requires adjustments for printing photos. I printed the PDF for a software user manual that included various color screenshots. It looks terrific and printed at close to the 17 PPM advertised rate. Nice.
Even if it is not a photo printer, photos are part of what will be printed on a color laser - as part of newsletters, real estate flyers, business cards, etc. So I looked at what I needed to do to get the best results from color-calibrated source images.
Anything containing photos really has to be printed in the 600 X 2400 resolution to get all of the details. (600 x 600 is fine for most other documents.) The white foam of the waterfall in a test image just blurred together at 600 x 600 resolution. 600 x 600 on this LED printer is not the same crispness as 600 x 600 on a laser.
I found that photographic images require printing with the Vivid color option, and with brightness increased. Even though a color wheel looked good, a calibration image containing various faces for skin tones, color patches and resulted in skin tones that looked sepia, in spite of some other colors in the image looking close to correct. I had to bump the red level to +12 and brightness to +4 in the print settings dialog to start to get the skin to look like skin. Even then, it was somewhat orange-sepia. Neither the Caucasian, Asian or African American babies' skin looked right, but the image was more usable. It seemed wrong that a bump of +12 (out of 20) on red made so little difference. Further, on making a color photocopy, where there is only +1 and +2 for red, the +1 improved the red in some places, but made green grass look yellow. There is no reason that adding red should cause that. So, I think that there are some firmware and/or software issues yet to be resolved here by Brother.
Manual fed items must be fed one at a time, unlike other Brother MFC machines that have a multifunction tray that accepts several sheets at once as an alternate feed tray. But a plus is that when you use the manual feed slot, you can open the back of the machine so that thick card stock can feed straight through the machine (after setting the paper type setting to "thicker"). It is not a truly straight path - the paper comes out the back pointing upwards and has a slight curl to it.
After attempting to print both brochures and business cards with the manual feed, I have to give the manual feed mechanism only 1 star. It is impossible to get a piece of paper to feed through perfectly straight. So, it is hard to get business cards, labels, etc to align properly. The manual feed slot has guide bars that are only an inch and half long in a lip that is a little over 2 inches long. So, not only must you stand there, holding the piece of paper as you insert it (there is no tray), it is impossible in a little over an inch to make sure that the piece of paper is feeding straight. Infuriating. I should note that trying to print brochures on thin stock via the paper tray resulted in skewed images also - so the printer is incapable of feeding paper absolutely straight there either.
The manual feed is also infuriatingly temperamental. If you don't push the piece of paper far enough, or too far, the printer senses a paper jam. No paper has even entered the printer yet. The directions ask you to open the printer and remove all four drum-toner elements - which requires someplace convenient to put them. In this case, that is not necessary - just shut the printer again and wait for several minutes while it rechecks itself, try to fee your paper again, and repeat.
Toner fixing was a major problem with the business card printing. More often than not, the last 1/3 of the page was not fixed and just smeared. I found a buried setting for 'improve fixing', and also held the paper as it came out the rear slot of the machine, and things improved. But, I still experienced smeared or lumpy toner on the page itself at times - some of it no doubt left on the drums from the previous page that was not properly fixed.
The software is common to most Brother MFC products. I am more than annoyed that after so many years, Brother has done nothing to improve their software for Macs. Yes, things work on a Mac, but you do not have the identical functionality as on Windows.
The printer driver interface for Windows has various options of handling (manual) duplexing. On the Mac, your options are to print either odd or even pages and in normal or reverse order. Finally, Windows users have ControlCenter3 which lets me choose between my two installed Brother MFC devices. On the Mac, it is ControlCenter2 which will not give multiple devices in its drop-down list. I have to browse each time I want to switch to a different Brother MFC.
Another complaint about the software installation is that it does not automatically check the Brother web site to see if there are updates. You have to manually do that after installing. Even then, the Brother web site is not very transparent, giving September 2009 dates to "updates" that, when downloaded, were created in January 2009 and thus are not even required. The names and functions of the update files are pretty obscure. I know what they all do as I've had Brother machines for some years. But, non-techie friends would not have a clue as to what to download or why. As an example: you would never know that if the ControlCenter stopped running and needed to be re-installed, that it was part of the Twain driver.
Scanning on the Mac stores the scanned files in the hidden /tmp/<user> directory at the root of the boot drive. You have to use Finder's menus to go to that folder and purge it. On the other hand, if you set up custom scans, you can both specify the folder into which the resulting file is placed, as well as have a Finder window open to that folder after a scan completes. I recommend this approach for Windows and Mac.
The OCR capabilities delivered via the Twain driver or ControlCenter are really primitive on Windows, and just plain bad on OS X. On Windows, the OCR is done by PaperPort OCR; on Mac it is done by Newsoft OCR. When presented with a page having three columns of text and a few font changes, and selecting rich text scanning, on Windows, the text was scanned almost error-free, but without any font changes. On OS X (Snow Leopard), the text was scanned as columns with breaks but with lots of errors and all over the page; basically useless. Even on Windows, better OCR software can scan the full page, including layout and images. Not so here.
The MFC has a USB port in the front into which you can plug a thumb drive or digital camera. With no connection to a computer, you can page through the files on the drive or camera and choose the ones you want to print directly from the memory device. I printed a PDF from a thumb drive just fine, and then scanned an image directly onto the thumb drive. Kind of a cool feature if you have someone who wants to 'borrow' your printer or scanner - they don't need to get onto any of your computers.
When the machine is awake, there is a really annoying high-pitched buzz/whine. It is pure bliss when it goes to sleep and the noise stops. I'm running it wired to my router, but I may run wireless just so I can move this elsewhere and not have to listen to it.
The lack of response to color adjustments, poor toner fixing and bleeding, inability to feed paper perfectly straight through the manual feed or the paper tray are my main concerns now that I've figured out most of the quirks of this machine. If those issues go away in time, I'll update this review again.