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

Find out all there is to know about Brother’s latest inkjets, which are aimed at business users

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

All of the new multifunction centres come with Brother’s Cloud-connected features, which 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’s iPrint&Scan). A3 paper is supported, yet all of the printers are designed to be compact and unobtrusive.

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

Brother DCP-J4120DW

Brother DCP-J4120DW.
Brother DCP-J4120DW.

The DCP-J4120DW is the simplest and smallest of the devices that has been released, and it’s aimed at the home user who wants a basic unit for printing, scanning and copying. It can be controlled via a 2.6in touchscreen, and it has stated speeds of 20 pages per minute (ppm) for black, and 18ppm for colour.

Its running cost is comprised of four individual (and chipped) cartridges (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black), which cost about $32 each ($50 for black) and have a high yield of 1200 pages each. The cartridges (model LC235XL for the colours and LC237XLBK for black) are easy to install via the front of the machine, with capillary tubes taking the ink to the print head (the same principle used in all the printers here).

Paper handling for printing is 150 A4 sheets at a time, which is fed through the bottom of the printer in a landscape orientation (again, the same for all the printers here), and there is a manual feed at the back that can accommodate one A3 sheet at a time. Up to 50 A4 sheets can be held in the output tray. Two-sided printing is automatic, the resolution is up to 1200x6000 dots per inch (dpi), and there is also a quiet mode that can be used to stifle some of the printer’s racket (which comes mostly from the tracks moving the paper and the print head going back and forth).

Scanning and copying can be undertaken from the flatbed at the top of the printer, which can do up to 1200x600dpi colour reproductions, 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 using USB (a cable is not supplied), but its wireless networking (including Wi-Fi Direct) will be more convenient if you want to print from multiple computers and devices in your home.

The cost of the printer is $199, with a full set of high yield inks costing $146, though you can replace cartridges depending on the colour that is depleted, rather than all of them at once.

Consider this printer if you just want something simple for scanning and copying A4 documents, and for printing documents, Web sites, and the occasional photo (at up to A3 size). Its Cloud features give the ability to tap into services such as Dropbox directly, if you don’t want to first download files and then print them from a computer.

Brother MFC-J4620DW

Brother MFC-J4620DW.
Brother MFC-J4620DW.

The MFC-J4620DW has all of the functionality of the DCP-J4120DW, but it’s a little faster, and also a little taller, owing to the fact that it includes an automatic document feeder (ADF) on its flatbed scanner (and a better copying resolution of 1200x2400dpi). The print resolution is the same at 1200x6000dpi.

This ADF gives it the extra capability of scanning or copying multi-page documents in one hit, up to 20 pages at a time. Otherwise, its paper handling is still 150 sheets for input and 50 sheets for output, and it too can print onto A3 sheets that are fed from the rear at a manual rate of one page at time.

It also includes a fax machine, for those of you who still might rely on orders or other communications via this medium, and Brother told us that faxes can be set up to go straight to the Cloud. This means they can be accessed remotely, should you be travelling and not at home to physically see them.

The interface is a combination of touch and capacitive touch, just like the DCP-J4120DW, though the screen is slightly bigger at 3.6in, and the Cloud features and mobile printing capabilities are once again present. What the MFC-J4620DW adds is NFC (near-field communications), so that you can try your hand at tapping-to-print photos from your phone.

Its speed is a little faster at 20ppm for colour and 22ppm for black, and it uses the same consumables.

The cost of the printer is $229, with a full set of high yield consumables ringing up $146. Connectivity is USB and Wi-Fi (with Wi-Fi Direct, too), but it also features and Ethernet port.

Get this model if you want the added ability of copying or scanning multi-page documents automatically, and also if you want to attach the printer to your router via Ethernet.

Brother MFC-J5320DW

Brother MFC-J5320DW.
Brother MFC-J5320DW.

While the previous two models are more for the home/home office user, this model (and the MFC-J5720DW after this) is better suited for slightly busier small office environments. The MFC-J5320DW is bigger than the previous models, and that’s because it has beefed up paper handling and also an ability to house super-high yield ink cartridges.

The paper handling capacity is boosted to 250 sheets via the internal paper tray, which is more convenient if you want a device for printing and copying documents more frequently, and 2-sided printing is supported. The output tray is still 50 sheets, though, and A3 prints are still possible one at a time from the manual feed at the rear. There is a 35-sheet ADF for copying and scanning multi-page documents automatically.

In terms of speed, the MFC-J5320DW does 20ppm in colour and 22ppm in black, and it can use a super-high yield black ink that can put the cost per monochrome print to about 2.3 cents per page. Of course, the yield will vary depending on the types of prints you do, but the rating for the super-high yield black cartridge (LC239XLBK) is 2400 pages, and it’s slightly thicker than the standard black cartridge. The colour cartridges are high yield (LC235 C/M/Y) and rated for 1200 pages each.

You get Ethernet, Wi-Fi, a 2.6in touchscreen, Cloud functions, and mobile apps for printing from phones and tablets. It costs $229. Total ink cost is $151 (including the super-high yield black).

Get this multifunction device if you need scanning, copying, faxing, and printing functions, and especially if you need a higher paper and ink capacity for more frequent usage than a more entry level printer can provide. You can print on A4 and A3 (single-sheet only), and can connect to the printer via USB, Ethernet or Wi-Fi.

Brother MFC-J5720DW

Brother MFC-J5720DW.
Brother MFC-J5720DW.

This is the biggest and most comprehensive model of the lot. It can accommodate a lot more paper thanks to the inclusion of two standard paper trays at the bottom, which can each hold 250 sheets, and there is also a multi-purpose tray at the back that can hold a further 80 A4 sheets or up to 5 A3 sheets.

It still has a one-sheet manual feed slot, the output tray will spill over after 50 sheets, but the ADF is boosted to 50 sheets for scanning and copying. Two-sided printing is automatic for printing, and the speed of the printer is 22ppm for monochrome jobs and 20ppm for colour jobs. Two-sided, single-pass scanning is also present.

Consumables are the same as the ones used in the MFC-J5320DW, meaning it can handle super-high yield black (LC239XLBK), in addition to high yield cyan, magenta, and yellow cartridges (LC235). The cost of a black print can be as low as 2.3 cents, and a colour print as low as 10.3 cents.

You get all of the Cloud and mobile app features, which are usable with Apple and Android, and there is an Ethernet port for hooking into a router (or you can just use Wi-Fi).

This printer costs $299 and should be considered if you have a need for traditional multifunction features (faxing, copying, and scanning) as well as more modern Internet-connected features. It’s also for those of you who need a printer with a high capacity, but not a laser-printer-like capacity. Total cost for inks is about $151 (including the super-high yield black).

It’s a multifunction centre that can handle plenty of paper (for printing, and copying and scanning), and also different varieties of paper (up to A3) for completing text jobs, photographic jobs, and any other multipurpose jobs that your office needs to undertake on a regular basis.

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Elias Plastiras
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