Brother multifunction inkjets: Cloud-connected business printers with A3 capability

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Brother’s new range of multifunction inkjet printers for the second half of 2014 includes two models for home office users (DCP-J4120DW and MFC-J4620DW) and two models for small businesses that need a little more printing (the MFC-J5320DW and MFC-J5720DW ). It’s Brother’s first foray into the inkjet business market, a market intended for business users who don’t need long-run printing. For busy offices, a laser printer is still a better choice.

All new multifunction centers come with Brother’s cloud-connected capabilities that allow you to print from services such as Dropbox and Google, and they can also be used to print from mobile devices (Apple and Android) via an app (Brother iPrint&Scan). . A3 paper is supported, yet all printers are designed to be compact and unobtrusive.

But what other features do they have and how can you tell these multifunction printers apart? Here’s a rundown of the new devices so you can see which one best suits your needs.

Brother DCP-J4120DW

Brother DCP-J4120DW.
Brother DCP-J4120DW.

The DCP-J4120DW is the simplest and smallest of the devices released and is aimed at home users who want a basic unit for printing, scanning and copying. It can be controlled via a 2.6-inch touchscreen and has a quoted speed of 20 pages per minute (ppm) for black and white and 18 pages per minute for colour.

The running cost is made up of four individual (and chipped) cartridges (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) that cost about $32 each ($50 for black) and have a high yield of 1200 pages each. The cartridges (model LC235XL for the colors and LC237XLBK for the black) install easily via the front of the machine, with capillary tubes carrying the ink to the printhead (the same principle used on all the printers here).

Paper handling for printing is 150 A4 sheets at a time, fed in landscape mode through the bottom of the printer (again, the same for all printers here), and there’s a manual feeder at the rear that can take one A3 sheet at a time . Up to 50 A4 sheets can be held in the output tray. Double-sided printing is automatic, resolution is up to 1200 x 6000 dots per inch (dpi) and there’s also a quiet mode that can be used to cancel out some of the printer’s noise (which mainly comes from the rails, moving the paper and the reciprocating print head).

Scanning and copying can be done from the flatbed at the top of the printer, which enables color reproductions at up to 1200 x 600 dpi, and scans can be sent to email or an SD card, and optical character recognition (OCR) is supported.

You can connect this multifunction printer directly to a computer via USB (a cable is not included), but wireless connectivity (including Wi-Fi Direct) is more convenient when you want to print from multiple computers and devices in your home.

The printer costs $199, with a full set of high-yield inks costing $146, although you can replace cartridges based on the color you’ve used rather than all at once.

Consider this printer if you just need something basic for scanning and copying A4 documents and printing documents, websites and the occasional photo (up to A3 size). The cloud capabilities offer the ability to tap into services like Dropbox directly if you don’t want to download files first and then print from a computer.

Brother MFC-J4620DW

Brother MFC-J4620DW.
Brother MFC-J4620DW.

The MFC-J4620DW has all the features of the DCP-J4120DW, but is slightly faster and also slightly larger, as it includes an automatic document feeder (ADF) on its flatbed scanner (and a better copying resolution of 1200 x 2400 dpi). The print resolution is the same at 1200 x 6000 dpi.

This ADF offers the additional ability to scan or copy multi-page documents at once, up to 20 pages at a time. Otherwise, its paper handling is still 150 sheets for input and 50 sheets for output, and it can also print on A3 sheets fed from the rear at a manual speed of one side at a time.

It also includes a fax machine for those of you who may still rely on orders or other communications through that medium, and Brother has told us faxes can be set up to go straight to the cloud. This means you can access them remotely in case you’re away and not at home to see them physically.

The user interface is a combination of touch and capacitive touch, just like the DCP-J4120DW, although the screen is slightly larger at 3.6 inches and the cloud capabilities and mobile printing capabilities are present again. What the MFC-J4620DW adds is NFC (near field communication) so you can try to print photos from your phone with a tap.

Its speed is slightly faster at 20ppm for color and 22ppm for black, and it uses the same consumables.

The printer costs $229, with a full set of high-capacity supplies costing $146. Connectivity is USB and Wi-Fi (also using Wi-Fi Direct), but it also has an Ethernet port.

Get this model if you want the added ability to automatically copy or scan multi-page documents and if you want to connect the printer to your router via Ethernet.

Brother MFC-J5320DW

Brother MFC-J5320DW.
Brother MFC-J5320DW.

While the previous two models are aimed more at home/home office users, this model (and then the MFC-J5720DW) is better suited to slightly busier small office environments. The MFC-J5320DW is larger than previous models, and that’s because it improves paper handling and also offers the ability to accommodate ultra-high-capacity ink cartridges.

Paper handling capacity is increased to 250 sheets via the internal paper tray, which is more convenient if you need a device to print and copy documents more frequently, and two-sided printing is supported. However, the output tray still holds 50 sheets and A3 prints are still possible one at a time via the rear manual feed. There is a 35-sheet ADF for automatic copying and scanning of multi-page documents.

In terms of speed, the MFC-J5320DW manages 20 pages per minute in color and 22 pages per minute in black and can use an extremely high yield black ink that can bring the cost per black and white print to around 2.3 cents per page. Of course, yields vary depending on the type of prints, but the rating for the super high yield black cartridge (LC239XLBK) is 2400 pages and is slightly thicker than the standard black cartridge. The color cartridges are high-yield (LC235 C/M/Y) and designed for 1200 pages each.

You get Ethernet, Wi-Fi, a 2.6-inch touchscreen, cloud capabilities, and mobile apps for printing from phones and tablets. It costs $229. Total ink cost is $151 (including ultra long range black).

Get this all-in-one when you need scanning, copying, faxing and printing, and especially when you need more paper and ink capacity for more frequent use than an entry-level printer can offer. You can print on A4 and A3 (sheet only) and connect to the printer via USB, Ethernet or Wi-Fi.

Brother MFC-J5720DW

Brother MFC-J5720DW.
Brother MFC-J5720DW.

This is the largest and most complete model of the lot. It can hold a lot more paper thanks to two standard paper trays on the bottom, each capable of holding 250 sheets, and there is also a multipurpose tray on the back that can hold a further 80 A4 sheets or up to 5 A3 sheets.

It still has a single-sheet manual feed slot, the output tray will overflow after 50 sheets, but the ADF is increased to 50 sheets for scanning and copying. Two-sided printing is automatic for printing, and the printer’s speed is 22 pages per minute for black and white prints and 20 pages per minute for color prints. Two-sided single-pass scanning is also provided.

The consumables are the same as the MFC-J5320DW, ie it can handle extremely high-capacity black (LC239XLBK) and high-capacity cyan, magenta and yellow (LC235) cartridges. The cost of a black print can be as low as 2.3 cents and a color print as high as 10.3 cents.

You get all the cloud and mobile app functionality usable with Apple and Android, and there’s an Ethernet port for connecting to a router (or you can just use Wi-Fi).

Priced at $299, this printer is worth considering if you need traditional multifunction capabilities (fax, copy, and scan) as well as more modern Internet-connected capabilities. It’s also for those of you who need a high-capacity printer, but not the capacity of a laser printer. Total cost for inks is around $151 (including the super high yield black).

It’s a multi-function center that can handle lots of paper (for printing, copying and scanning) and also different types of paper (up to A3) for completing text jobs, photo jobs and other multi-purpose jobs that your office needs to handle on a regular basis.

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