Review: Brother MFC-420CN

What is it?

The Brother MFC-420CN is a compact inkjet printer, scanner, copier, fax machine, memory card reader. It has USB2 and RJ-45 network connectivity and it has a document feeder.


The Brother MFC-420cn has been replaced by the Brother MFC-440cn. The MFC-440cn increases print speed to 25ppm b&w and 20ppm color from 20ppm b&w and 15ppm color for the MFC-420cn. It increases memory to 32 MB from 16 MB. In addition, the new model uses different ink cartridges, has a 4×6 photo paper input tray, and sports a flip-up LCD status screen. Finally there are some aesthetic and physical changes, but the size and footprint are very similar. All other observations of the MFC-420 below still apply to the new MFC-44cn.


Compact, built in networking and USB2 connectivity, separate color ink cartridges, built in memory card readers, built in document feeder, easy to use.


Light duty feel, small capacity, it says the ink cartridges are empty when it seems it could suck several more pages out of them.


When I first set up my home office I needed a small, quiet, multi-function printer, scanner, fax machine. The system recommended by the IT department was a huge monstrosity of system, but I wanted something that wouldn’t crowd my already tight space. I took matters into my own hands and found this versatile and compact little system.

My minimum requirements were a printer that was compact, had separate color cartridges and could print scan and fax. My “nice-to-have” features were a document feeder and network connectivity so I could share the printer with my other computers. This printer met those needs plus provided a flash memory card reader that works with a variety of formats.

My experience with the system has been quite good. I must admit that I am not a heavy user. Generally, I print a couple 10-12 page documents a day, but on occasion I have printed out 100-200 page documents and it hasn’t had any problems. The software is useful and easy to use, but I have found that on rare occasions it freaks out and I need to goose the computer to get it working properly again. This isn’t shocking because I generally leave my system on for weeks and only reboot occasionally.

The only problem I have with this device is that it “feels” cheap. I feel like I have to be careful handling it or I might break it. This “feeling” also makes me wonder if it would start to flounder if I tried to work it harder and more often. I don’t know how valid these thoughts are, because so far it has handled everything I have thrown at it with pure utility.

The Verdict:

I like the Brother MFC-420CN. It is compact, feature rich, and has performed ably for a year.

Buy the Brother MFC-420CN from now!

Other Related Brother Multifunction Printers:

Brother MFC-820cw: Features Wireless Network w/2.5" Color LCD

Don’t Forget the Ink!

Brother LC41M Magenta Ink Cartridge
Brother LC41Y Yellow Ink Cartridge
Brother LC41C Cyan Ink Cartridge
Brother LC41BK Black Ink Cartridge

5 thoughts on “Review: Brother MFC-420CN”

  1. Dear Home Office Blues,

    Might I suggest that you are “blue” because of the slow performance of your Brother MFC. I too purchased a similar machine, the laser printer version, for my home-based business which relies heavily on scanning documents.

    This machine is now relegated to my ‘back-up’ category due to its sluggish scanning speed. Set-up and go was quick and easy, but the scanning speed left much to be desired.

    None-the-less, thanks for the review and I’ll check in for more info at the Home office Blues.

  2. Boy that sure is cheap!! I have a separate Scanner, Fax, and printer. . .oh, what money I could have saved if I had bothered to do a little research at the beginning instead of impulse buying as each need arose.

  3. JJ,
    Multifunction devices are good for people that do not need dedicated full time devices for each function. If your business depends on scanning, I would not recommend any multifunction device. Get a dedicated scanner. It will do what you want when you want it and will likely be quicker, better, easier, etc. I don’t need a full time dedicated scanner, printer, or fax so one device that does all three works great for me. Good luck.

  4. Pure piece of shit this thing. I mean I guess it functions fine, it prints things and scans things. I really liked that it has a document feeder on the scanner. In fact I bought it just as a scanner. And I never printed anything on it. Which is why I was surprised when it started beeping at me that it was running low on ink. Apparently it had been ‘cleaning’ the heads, which I guess means dumping the ink into a sponge somewhere. So then when I wanted to use it to print I went to take the paper tray out and it was like pulling a car uphill. It was absolutely impossible. I broke the tray trying to take it out. Go ahead and buy it for the scanner, but also be sure to buy a separate printer if you want to have the option of ever opening the paper tray.

  5. Good little printer, but their are newer models that are superior. It does feel cheap but i haven’t had one break on me.

    Also if you intend to print 50+ pages at a time, don’t bother with these little printers because the paper tray is rather small. Same goes for if you print many different formats constantly. It is a very slow process to load paper and change between different paper sizes. I would not recommend this printer to someone who prints to a variety of different sized media on a daily basis.

    The scanner is very slow on this model. I have also have a 465CN the scanner runs at a good pace.

    Make sure you buy the cheap compatible ink if you intend to print on a daily basis. No sense in pissing your money away. You should always recycle your ink cartridges, if you don’t know where to recycle them, then get the brother ink cartridges because you can mail them in at no cost to be recycled.

    All in all a good cheap printer for what it does

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