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Digital faxing culture with Brother MFC-8440

Last post 09-29-2008, 8:54 by icelava. 4 replies.
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  •  11-26-2004, 23:39 759

    Digital faxing culture with Brother MFC-8440

    I can see just why Hardware Mag didn't have any second thoughts about awarding this Multi-Function Centre equipment the Gold medal.

    (this isn't a technical hardware review, but more of a personal experience testimony - reviews require alot more work [|-)])

    One of our customers wanted very much wanted to evolve away from the traditional methods of business faxing in order to cut down on the time spent manually fiddling with the conventional monstrosity of a fax machine they currently have as well as to save paper - why should you have to print everything faxed in only to see it, most of the time, once? And to print out thousands of sheets only to fax them out once before dumping into the trash bin?

    Tech-saavy businesses who have implemented this early have long enjoyed the ease and convenience of being able to simply fax straight from the PC and their favourite software application via simply clicks to a fax utility that masquerades as your typical printer driver. However, early implementations tend to be direct-connection methodology - your MFC/AIO device typically connects to your PC's USB bus. You may be able to share your printer, but sharing fax and scan features with the rest of your colleagues are outright impossible in most models.

    Introduce the Brother MFC-8440. By itself, it's really like any other AIO design. The crown (because that's what makes it king, at least for now) comes in the form of the NC-9100h optional network card. Let the MFC swallow this power-up pill and you suddenly witness its capabilities ripple throughout your office network, instead of being pathetically isolated to a single power user.

    The NC-9100h add-on gives you three interfaces to configure its network capabilities and settings:
    1. Standard hardware device panel.
    2. Built-in web server for web browser administration.
    3. SNMP for Brother GUI administration in Windows.

    The settings across these three interfaces are not entirely mirrored. For example, you can't adjust the Contact and Location parameters of the device in the web interface. I suppose future revisions will change this, so you won't be caught frowning trying to locate an option that just isn't in the interface you use. Needless the say, the most painful way is the actual device panel as you struggle to input alphabets as you would frantically with SMS - even a T9 dictionary won't help if you are to input symbols, IP or email addresses.

    Installation of the drivers with the supplied CD was simple enough, except the odd endless churning of the CPU by the NetScn32.exe process on the installation of the network scanner driver. This happened on the two different systems I tried, both Windows XP SP2. One doesn't have the firewall turned on. I didn't investigate this further, having simply killed the process to let the installation routine carry on.

    As mentioned above, this optional network card add-on is really the bomb. In fact, i consider it essential as i really don't see the reason for buying this model unless you have networking in mind in the first place. Brother should just sell it with the Ethernet circuit board directly attached. Now that the MFC is completely visible to everybody on the network (installed with drivers), you have to option of registering your PC with it so you can do this:

    1. Launch Brother's ControlCentre utility on your system. It is a listener client program.
    2. Walk to the MFC to lay your intended scan material. Yes this physical chore can't be eliminated, unfortunately.
    3. Cycle through the scan options on the device panel, where you can scan and send direct to your PC name registered with the device.
    4. Be it a TIF image, OCR, PDF document, or other scan types, ControlCentre will pick it up and launch the appropriate program to deal with the received scan.

    Alternatively, you can send the scan image to your own email address direct from the MFC, because along with the simple TCP/IP settings you also get to insert DNS, WINS, SMTP, POP3 and many more details for it to be a truly Internet node device.

    That means on the fax side, you can receive and forward incoming faxes right out to another fax number, email address, or yet another MFC out in the Internet. You can also poll a POP3 mailbox to pull down emails meant to be fax jobs as well. Without actually duplicating the user manual on this, this intricate design allows you to create a neat global faxing infrastructure.

  •  11-26-2004, 23:50 760 in reply to 759

    and the catch is?

    Of course, nothing is perfect. You already read about some installation glitches I faced. The biggest hurdle I faced while testing this equipment out was trying hard to understand what the network configuration interfaces were trying to mean.

    I must say the interface design team could do with some English majors. The terse phrases, especially those of the conventional fax settings versus the Internet fax settings really pulled many a confusion over my face as I struggle to realise the consequences of a setting.

    For awhile I even thought the technician who first showed me the live MFC-8440 was pulling a fast one on me when he said you could easily redirect faxes to a mailbox, because I simply couldn't find such a tab/page that allowed me to define that - until I realised the TextBox labelled as "forward to fax #" also takes in email addresses as its parameter.

    I would've appreciated it if there were two explicit TextBoxes, so at least I can have a combination of normal numbers and email addresses to redirect to. Thank God one doesn't have to configure these settings everyday.

    Another thing to note is that fact that the network card being an add-on is additional cost. And that's not the end of it. You can only use it for 5 users/PCs. You have to buy extra 5-user-license packs if you wish to feed a bigger office. I can safely say though, the cost of paper and time saved using this thing is going to be way more than the license cost.

    That said, I am really quite impressed and happy with what this model is offering. I only hope the rest of the big players in this market can offer something just as rich.
  •  12-01-2004, 0:44 772 in reply to 759

    Yes [Y] Noteworthy product

    Some extra history on another solution.
  •  09-24-2008, 5:17 4498 in reply to 759

    Re: Digital faxing culture with Brother MFC-8440

    "Installation of the drivers with the supplied CD was simple enough, except the odd endless churning of the CPU by the NetScn32.exe process on the installation of the network scanner driver. This happened on the two different systems I tried, both Windows XP SP2. (...) having simply killed the process to let the installation routine carry on."

    You mean it's a Nightmare! You can sit in front of your PC waiting for the installation to finish, and spiders will have time to loom their web around you before the install is finished.

    Why did they something so much awful ?

    Except that VERY Annoying fact, my Brother MFC 820cw is quite good : small, yet with a loader to scan a bunch of files. Good Wifi Support !

  •  09-29-2008, 8:54 4527 in reply to 4498

    Re: Digital faxing culture with Brother MFC-8440

    Is that an older generation model? It has been nearly four years since I worked on the 8440. Last year I purchased the MFC-7820N for my own home use and the installation process has been improved significantly. Scanning for the MFC device is alot quicker.
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