With its Business Smart, Business Smart Plus, and Business Smart Professional Series families of printer, Brother was one of the first printer makers to support wide-format printing in a big way in multifunction inkjets for consumers and small businesses. Whether it’s simply printing the occasional oversize document, or delivering the ability to scan, copy, fax, and print them, a subset of these business-oriented all-in-ones (AIOs) adroitly handle tabloid, or 11×17-inch, pages at prices usually reserved for models that support paper no larger than letter- or legal-size.
The topic of this review, Brother’s $229.99-MSRP MFC-J6520DW, is one of these wide-load-capable models in the Brother line. A Professional Series model, the MFC-J6520DW does it all. It not only supports printing to tabloid-size stock, but because the scanner and the automatic document feeder (ADF) also support 11×17-inch pages, you can also scan, copy, and fax pages that big. (When you fax, of course, the document gets reduced on the receiving end if need be, since most receiving fax machines will be letter- or legal-size only.)
Unlike the other major makers of inkjet printers, which by now have all come out with a wide-format model or two of their own, nearly all of Brother’s business-centric models support tabloid printing. We’ve reviewed several of them, including the MFC-J6520DW’s higher-volume sibling, theMFC-J6920DW, a late-2013 Editors’ Choice recipient that’s still going strong on the market.
Over the past couple of years, though, we’ve seen business-centric wide-format models from both Epson and HP, such as the WorkForce WF-7610 All-in-One and Officejet 7610 Wide Format e-All-in-One, respectively. (Canon’s most recent wide-format inkjet model, the Pixma iX6820, is a very different animal, a single-function photo printer.) However, while these two machines have several features in common with our Brother machine under review, they also differ in some very significant ways.
Both the Epson and HP wide-format models, for example, additionally support a slightly larger page size, the next size up from tabloid at 13×19 inches, also known as “supertabloid” or A3+. (We say “slightly larger,” but the fact is that supertabloid pages contain 60 inches of additional surface area versus tabloid.)
While support for these even larger papers may not matter to everybody, a feature we really like about this Brother multifunction model is its low per-page operational costâ€”the cost per page, or CPP. As you’ll see in the Setup & Paper Handling section later on, compared to other wide-format printers, this one is relatively inexpensive in terms of ink upkeep, making it an ideal candidate for high-volume print runs of both standard letter-size andtabloid pages.
Unlike the costlier MFC-J6920DW, though, we had a few concerns about this model that left it just shy of a Computer Shopper Editors’ Choice high-five. As we discuss in the Setup & Paper Handling section later on, there are some significant, perhaps obvious, drawbacks to a wide-format printer with only one paper-input tray. In addition, the MFC-J6520DW doesn’t print photos as well as some of the other wide-format models we’ve talked about here so far.
But, then again, reconsider that this printer is part of Brother’s Business Smart Professional Series, as we mentioned earlier. Not all business printing calls for stellar photograph reproduction, and, frankly, this printer’s low CPPs, as we see it, should make stomaching the slightly subpar image rendering easier.
Overall, we liked this printer, but its somewhat limited paper-handling abilities might make it a better pick as a dedicated tabloid printer for light-to-moderate oversize output, as opposed to a general-purpose office machine. In any case, the MFC-J6520DW prints wide-format pages on the relative cheap, and that should be attractive to a wide range of small offices and workgroups.
Read the entire review at Computer Shopper