A user-friendly inkjet with decent speed and great features – and the price is very right.
The black and somewhat boxy MFC-J5620DW is a low-key inkjet printer. It’s not exactly small – with the paper tray fully extended its footprint is as large as that of a bulky laser. Impressively, though, Brother has managed to cram a full A3 paper feed into that space – something no other printer this month can claim.
Connecting to a wireless network and accessing the MFC-J5720DW’s main functions is a breeze. Everything’s done through a generously sized colour touchscreen interface, which we found perfectly intuitive to use. As well as regular scanning and faxing capabilities, there’s integration with a wide range of cloud services, so you can – for example – print files directly from Dropbox or Evernote. If the printer is accessible to multiple users, each one can register their own cloud accounts with the printer, and protect them with a PIN.
Everyday printing is impressively fast. Since it uses inkjet technology, the Brother can’t churn out pages at quite the pace of its laser-based rivals – but since inkjets don’t need to warm up, it can beat them off the starting blocks. Our 20-page black-and-white document came out in 91 seconds, ahead of the Ricoh and Xerox lasers, which took around 20 seconds to warm up before they got started. We wouldn’t recommend this printer for a busy bureau, or for an author who needs to churn out thousands of pages at a go, but for your home office it’s fast enough. Double-sided printing is a bonus too.
Print quality isn’t up to laser standards. Black-on-white text in standard print mode was perfectly legible, but the Brother MFC-J5720DW won’t be winning any awards for penmanship: inconsistent letter forms gave our documents a slightly rough look. You can alleviate this by switching to high-quality print mode, which produces impeccable text, but then print speed plummets to around 1.4ppm. It’s good to have the option, but most of the time it’s better to live with standard quality.
When we tried printing colour graphics, the MFC-J5720DW produced beautifully even output, with impeccable shading and bags of detail, even in murkier areas of our images. Its weakness was vibrancy: on regular copy paper, colours come out distinctly on the drab side. Next to the output from the HP Envy 5540, our prints looked positively muted.
Happily, that’s not a fault that carries over to scanning side. The Brother isn’t a particularly fast scanner – we found it took 23 seconds to make a colour photocopy, and 57 seconds to scan a 300ppi image to the desktop over wireless. But its output is beyond rebuke: scanned images are beautifully clean and detailed. We’re also big fans of the 35-sheet ADF, which pops up from the top of the unit when you need it, then folds back flat when you’re done.
Perhaps the best news of all is the price. The printer itself is dirt cheap: when you look at how capable and easy to use it is, it’s hard to believe it’s the third-cheapest option here. Better still, Brother doesn’t rip you off on the ink. According to our calculations it’s 0.01c per page for black-and-white prints and 0.09c per page for colour. That’s well below even any of this month’s lasers, and undercut only by Epson’s oddball EcoTank ET-4500.
All of which being the case, it’s easy to forgive some dull colours and slightly choppy letterforms. Stick to monochrome printing and you’ll be 10,000 pages down the line before you’ve even outlaid the bare purchase price of most other printers. Remember that, in addition to this, you get A3 printing, exceptional cloud support and great scanning quality, and it’s clear that the Brother MFC-J5620DW is a deserving winner.
“Stick to monochrome printing and you’ll be 10,000 pages down the line before you’ve even outlaid the bare purchase price of most other printers.”
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