Office and workgroup printers are usually laser-based due to their high workload, print quality and speed. Surprisingly, the quest to drive down cost per print also see the inkjet printers among this class, thanks to the ink tank evolution.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel


The Brother MFC-L8690CDW has a squat, chunky build that is meant for speed and quantity. It definitely won’t win any prizes in a beauty contest but within beats the heart of a hard worker. Coming in around a hefty 27.9 kilograms, its 435 x 526 x 539mm footprint gives it a size to match.

It can hold up to 300-sheets of paper in its two trays and 150-sheets in the central out tray, while the supplied black toner cartridge is good for a very respectable 3,000 monoprints. Higher yield cartridges are available that will double that figure. Now, laser printers tend to be lower than inkjet printers in this respect, but at 2,400 x 600dpi, the print resolution is pretty good. Strangely though, it can’t print in A3. Perhaps this is a new trend manufacturers are following?

You can connect via Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi Direct and it’s supported by a free app called iPrint&Scan. The companion app allows users to print wirelessly from cloud services such as Evernote and iCloud and check your toner levels and scan documents remotely. During our tests, we found that it couldn’t detect our 5GHz network, only the 2.4GHz one.

Navigation through the menu options was no problem thanks to the size of the LCD. While the 3.7inch LCD is big enough to show all necessary detail and information, its fixed position means that viewing the information can be difficult under some lighting conditions.

Black text printed fine, looking crisp and sharp to the naked eye. However, when magnified, the text was splotchier and overall not as sharp.

Again, as with most laser printers, simple graphics within our documents were printed fine. But if you need to print something that is graphic intensive, think about using an inkjet or photo printer. The image was clear but not as sharp as some others tested. Colours were slighter than our source and we found evidence of some colour saturation and some bleeding. 

My Reading Room

There were a number of handy print options available. 

My Reading Room

The USB slot was easily accessible.

(+) Cheapest laser tested. Reasonable print quality.

(-) No 5GHz wifi. LCD fixed. 

My Reading Room


TYPE Laser

PRINT RESOLUTION 2,400 x 600dpi

DIMENSIONS 435 x 526 x 539 mm

WEIGHT 27.9 kg

PRICE $799.00 


Designed for office use, the Canon imageCLASS MF746C certainly ticks all the boxes you think of when it comes to a workgroup printer.

Squat and big, laser-based, large paper capacity, fast print speeds, high duty cycle. All pretty much, check, check, check, check, and check.

Besides the usual printing, scanning, copying and faxing, Canon has included some nice bells and whistles in the MF746C, with a top print speed of 27 pages per minute (ppm) for both black and colour.

Print speeds aside, the printer has Ethernet and WiFi connectivity, a 250-sheet paper tray, 50 sheet ADF, and a 5-inch colour touchscreen control panel. The 5-inch colour touch screen LCD panel can swivel for greater viewing flexibility. There is also an optional 550-sheet paper cassette to expand its input paper capacity to a maximum of 850 sheets. However, it too can’t print to A3 for some reason.

It employs the same V2 Colour Technology found in Canon’s imageRUNNER ADVANCE Generation 3 devices with a maximum equivalent print resolution of 1,200 x 1,200dpi.

Connectivity includes an Ethernet port, modem ports for faxing, and both Type-A and Type-B USB ports. There’s another USB 3.0 port at the front, but no SD card slot. We found setting up the printer fiddley. Connection to our wireless networks worked on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz, but took the longest time to connect.

To help users work smarter and more efficiently, the MF746C is equipped with Application Library, which in a nutshell, consists of little apps that help to automate common workflows, as well as frequently-used forms stored on-device for you to quickly retrieve and print.

This was the second-fastest workgroup printer in our tests, only two-tenths of a second behind the HP Colour LaserJet Pro MFP M479fdw. Printed text quality was sharp and black. There was little spotting around the letters, but serifs were sharp and clear.

Graphics looked sharp and clear, with colours looking natural and well-saturated, although also a little light overall. Textures and mid-tone transitions looked smooth. Overall it had one of the better-printed image results.

My Reading Room

The huge LCD screen can swivel too for greater flexibility. 

My Reading Room

We love the convenience of having the USB slot available. 

(+) Fast. Good print text quality.

(-) Fiddley WiFi. Text printing not as sharp as the HP. 

My Reading Room


TYPE Laser

PRINT RESOLUTION 1,200 × 1,200 dpi

DIMENSIONS 471 x 469 x 460mm

WEIGHT 24.5kg

PRICE $899.00 


Unlike the others, the Epson WF-C579R isn’t a laser print. Instead, it uses what Epson calls the Replaceable Ink Pack System (RIPS). Epson also claims that their DURABrite Ultra pigment ink delivers laser-like quality prints that are water-resistant, fade-resistant and smudge-resistant.

Designed to be an office workhorse, the WF-C579R accepts paper through its two front cassettes and rear slot—combined, they can hold 830 sheets of plain paper. For businesses that print a lot, you can buy another 500-sheet cassette for a total of 1,330 pages. One feature we did not like was that the tray that holds printouts was an attachment and if not placed correctly could drop out.

While it has wireless connectivity options, the Epson could find our 2.4GHz network but not our 5GHz network.

Being a RIPS printer also means that replacing inks is a quick and hassle-free affair. The standard ink packs that the WF-C579R uses are able to print up to 10,000 pages in black and 5,000 pages in colour, and if that isn’t enough, It there are also high-capacity packs that last up to 50,000 and 20,000 pages respectively.

It can print in both colour and black at a rate of 24ipm, and perform auto-duplex printing too, at 15ipm. IPM refers to images per minute. The main difference between IPM and PPM is that IPM is measured at a fixed resolution or number of dots per inch, whereas PPM is not. When we tested its speed, I can only say it wasn’t as fast as most of the laser printers; it was only slightly faster than the Brother MFC-L8690CDW.

Print quality for text that black was not uniform throughout the letters. While they appeared black and sharp to the naked eye, it was somewhat splotchy when magnified. It did, however, have the truest image to our source. it had one of the closest colour matches. However, there was some colour bleeding and over-saturation. 

My Reading Room

While the LCD is angled, the panel itself is fixed in position. 

My Reading Room

Make sure the detachable paper tray is fitted properly, or it can fall off if jolted. 

(+) Best image printer. Large default paper capacity.

(-) No 5GHz wifi. Tray to hold prints can fall out . 

My Reading Room



PRINT RESOLUTION 4,800 x 1,200 dpi

DIMENSIONS 425 x 535 x 513 mm

WEIGHT 25.8 kg

PRICE $1,028.00 


The HP Colour LaserJet Pro MFP M479FDW is compact, squat and has a fairly standard size (426 x 652 x 414 mm) and weight (23.3kg) for this class of printers. But while it does take up space, we liked that there was nothing sticking out to take up more space in its design. 

The standard paper capacity is 300 sheets of up to legal-size paper. This is divided between a 250-sheet tray and a 50-sheet multipurpose feeder. An optional 550-sheet paper tray can be added, for a maximum paper capacity of 850 sheets. It includes an auto-duplex for two-sided scanning and printing. It has a maximum monthly duty cycle of up to 50,000 pages and a recommended monthly duty cycle of up to 4,000 sheets.

Connectivity options were great. You get the usual selection of wired, wireless and app-based print options. Situated below the front panel is also port for a USB thumb drive, which makes printing without any need for a PC or device easy. There’s also NFC touch-to-print and it was one of the few printers that could detect and connect to both 2.4GHz and 5GHz network bands.

Having the four-inch LCD pivot was very handy and a touch screen. The screen was large enough to have a QWERTY keyboard on it. But while menus were easily navigated, there’s a learning curve to fully understand all its functions.

This was one of the fastest printers we tested. It can print in full colour or monochrome at close to the stated 27 A4 pages per minute and can auto-scan two-sided documents, thanks to its auto-document feeder.

For text and document printing, the MFP M479FDW had the sharpest definition and best print quality overall. 

Image colours were actually very close to source. The image quality, however, while sufficient, was noticeably pixelated and somewhat lacking. Overall the HP Colour LaserJet Pro MFP M479FDW had the best mix of features and quality, which is further helped by a very attractive price point. 

My Reading Room

The LCD was so easy to use and navigate.

My Reading Room

While not as large as others, the ADF could still hold enough print outs. 

(+) Fast. Good document print.

(-) Running costs can be high. Image quality not the best. 

My Reading Room


TYPE Laser

PRINT RESOLUTION 600 x 600 dpi

DIMENSIONS 426 x 652 x 414 mm

WEIGHT 23.4 kg

PRICE $899.00 



TYPE Laser

PAPER CAPACITY Paper tray 1 Up to 250 sheets, Paper tray 2 up to 500 sheets, Multi-purpose try up to 50 sheets

PAPER TYPES A4, Letter, A5, A5(Long Edge), A6, Executive, Legal, Folio, Mexico Legal

PRINT RESOLUTION 2,400 x 600dpi


SCAN RESOLUTION 1,200 × 2,400 dpi

CONNECTIVITY Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows 10, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2016, Mac OS X 10.10.5 or greater

DIMENSIONS 435 x 526 x 539 mm

WEIGHT 27.9 kg

PRICE $799.00


TYPE Laser 

PAPER CAPACITY Standard Cassette 250 sheets, Multi-Purpose Tray 50 sheets, Optional Paper Feeder 550 sheets

PAPER TYPES  A4, B5, A5, Letter, Legal, Statement, Executive, Government Letter, Government Legal, Foolscap, Indian Legal Custom (Min. 98.0 x 148.0mm to Max. 216.0 x 355.6mm)

PRINT RESOLUTION 1,200 × 1,200 dpi


SCAN RESOLUTION 600 x 600 dpi 

CONNECTIVITY USB 2.0 High Speed, 10Base-T/100Base-TX/1000Base-T, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n (Infrastructure mode, WPS easy Setup, Direct Connection), Canon PRINT Business, Canon Print Service, Google Cloud Print, Apple AirPrint, Mopria Print Service

DIMENSIONS 471 x 469 x 460mm

WEIGHT 24.5kg

PRICE $899.00 



PAPER CAPACITY Cassette 1: 250 sheets , 50 sheets Premium Glossy Photo Paper Cassette 2: 500 sheets Rear Slot: 80 sheets

PAPER TYPES 8.5 x 13”, Legal, Letter, A4, Executive, B5, A5, A6, B6, 5 x 7”, 16:9 wide, 4 x 6”, Envelopes: #10, DL, C6, C4

PRINT RESOLUTION 4,800 x 1,200 dpi


SCAN RESOLUTION 1,200 x 2,400 dpi

CONNECTIVITY Ethernet, Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, Apple AirPrint, Google Cloud Print, Mopria Print Service, Windows XP / Vista / 7 / 8 / 8.1 / 10, Windows Server 2003 / 2008 / 2012 / 2016, Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later

DIMENSIONS 425 x 535 x 513 mm

WEIGHT 25.8 kg

PRICE $1,028.00 


TYPE Laser

PAPER CAPACITY 50-sheet multipurpose tray, 250-sheet input tray, 50-sheet Automatic Document Feeder (ADF), optional Optional 550-sheet tray


PRINT RESOLUTION 600 x 600 dpi


SCAN RESOLUTION 1,200 x 1,200 dpi 

CONNECTIVITY USB 2.0 port, USB, 10/100/1000 Base-TX network port, 802.11b/g/n/2.4/5 Ghz, Apple AirPrint, Google Cloud Print, HP ePrint, HP Smart App, Mobile Apps, Mopria Certified, Wi-Fi Direct Printing, Roam capable for easy printing

DIMENSIONS 4426 x 652 x 414 mm

WEIGHT 23.4 kg

PRICE $899.00 


My Reading Room

The HP Colour LaserJet Pro MFP M479fdw is a clear winner here because it excels in almost all aspects. In terms of performance, it produced the fastest first page printout as well as the fastest print set completion among the competition. It came the closest to match its stated 30 pages per minute and can auto-scan two-sided documents, thanks to its auto-document feeder. Prints were crisp and sharp, and colours produced were also closest to our source on-screen.

It doesn’t lack in features too. Highlights include a great 4-inch LCD touch display, which is large enough for a full QWERTY keyboard as well as having straightforward and easily navigated menus. Connectivity options were great too, and extra points for it being able to connect to both 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks. Lastly, it does all this with a similar price point to the rest of the competition.