Review of the Brother MFC-L8900CDW at Computer ShopperThe Brother MFC-L8900CDW ($599.99) is a midrange color laser all-in-one printer (AIO) designed for low-to-medium use in a micro or small office or workgroup. Comparable to the Editors’ Choice Samsung Multifunction Printer ProXpress C3060FW, the MFC-L8900CDW is loaded with features, it’s expandable, and its running costs are competitive. It’s relatively fast and prints text very well, but its graphics and photos are not quite up to snuff, compared with some competitors. That’s not to say that its output isn’t good enough for most business applications, though. The MFC-L8900CDW is a decent choice for offices that require light-to-moderate print and copy volume.

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Review of the Canon Color imageClass MF731Cdw at PCMagThe Canon imageClass MF731Cdw ($489) is a color laser multifunction printer (MFP), designed for use in a small office or workgroup. Like the Editors’ Choice Samsung Multifunction Printer ProXpress C3060FW, the MF731Cdn prints well at decent running costs, but unlike the Samsung, its automatic document feeder (ADF) is not auto-duplexing, nor does it support near-field communication (NFC). Even so, expandable input capacity and built-in Wi-Fi make the Canon MF731Cdw a viable, slightly less expensive alternative to the C3060FW for low-to-moderate volume printing and copying in a small, micro, or home-based office.

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Review of the Brother MFC-J6935DW at Computer ShopperIt wasn’t all that long ago that wide-format inkjet printers (models that handle paper larger than legal-size, or 8.5×14 inches) were not only rare, but also rather expensive. Even today, most of the major printer manufacturers—HP, Epson, Canon—offer only a few wide-format machines. But Brother has changed all that, offering most of its Business Smart and Business Smart Plus all-in-one (print/copy/scan/fax) models as tabloid-size-capable (11×17-inch) machines. Nowadays, you can choose from more than a handful of wide-format inkjet models, among them the Brother MFC-J5930DW we just reviewed, as well as today’s review unit, the $349.99-list Brother MFC-J6935DW.

Direct competitors with the HP Officejet Pro 7740 All-in-One, the difference between these two Brother models is that the MFC-J6935DW (like the Officejet model) not only prints tabloid-size pages, but can also scan, copy, and fax them. The MFC-J5930DW, on the other hand, can only print wide-format documents.

It stands to reason that some small and medium-size offices that need to print tabloid-size documents will need to process them in other ways, too. If your day-to-day work calls for scanning, copying, or faxing wide-format pages, the $50 upgrade from the MFC-J5930DW to the MFC-J6935DW is a bargain.

Brother MFC-J6935DW (Right Angled)

What really makes these Brother Business Smart Plus AIOs attractive is that, compared to their Officejet competitor (as well as Epson’s WorkForce WF-7620 All-in-One, a two-paper-drawer version of the WorkForce WF-7610 we reviewed a while back), the Brother AIOs are part of that company’s INKvestment line. INKvestment printers, similar in broad concept to Epson’s EcoTank and Canon’s MegaTank (in that you pay more up front for cheaper ink later), deliver low-per page costs, although Brother’s approach is somewhat different. Where EcoTank and MegaTank printers are “bulk-ink” models that take their ink from reservoirs you fill from bottles, INKvestment printers deploy ink cartridges with high yields and modest prices (on a per-page basis, that is).

To our knowledge, aside from Brother’s INKvestment products, the only other wide-format printer designed around this pay-more-now-to-pay-less-later concept is Epson’s $999-list WorkForce ET-16500 EcoTank Wide Format All-in-One Supertank. The advantage that the WorkForce ET-16500 holds over the Brother MFC-J6935DW is that the former prints wide-format pages up to 13×19 inches, and it has significantly lower running costs. But it’s also much slower. (We’ll look more closely at the difference in running costs between these two printers in the Cost Per Page section coming up.)

In any case, like the MFC-J5930DW, the MFC-J6935DW is an excellent multifunction business machine. It’s reasonably fast, loaded with features, prints well, and costs much less to use than its most direct competitors. As you read on, assuming you need the big inputs and outputs, you’ll see that there’s just not much to quibble about in this wide-format winner.

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Review of the Brother MFC-J5930DW at Computer ShopperBrother’s inkjet multifunction printers just keep getting better and better, as demonstrated by today’s review unit, the $299.99-list MFC-J5930DW, and the Brother MFC-J6935DW we reviewed alongside it. As one of the company’s INKvestment models, the MFC-J5930DW is one of the least expensive business-oriented all-in-ones (AIOs) on ink costs—especially for the price. It is loaded with features, has a high paper-input capacity from three separate sources, and is capable of printing tabloid-size (11×17-inch) documents, posters, and flyers.

Over the years, a common quibble across our reviews of Brother’s Business Smart and Business Smart Plus series machines has been with their photo quality. While they print great-looking text and graphics, their photo output has typically been, compared to their HP and Epson competitors, just so-so—more than passable, but slightly lesser than the others. For example, the HP Officejet Pro 7740 Wide-Format All-in-One, as well as the wide-format Epson WorkForce WF-7620, cost more to use than Brother’s Business Smart Plus models, but their print quality was somewhat better. We’re pleased to report (as we’ll get into in more detail near the end of this review), that that was not our experience with the MFC-J5930DW.

Brother MFC-J5930DW (Front)

A primary difference between the Officejet model and the MFC-J5930DW is that in addition to printing tabloid-size documents, the HP model can also scan and copy documents of that size. To get those features from a Brother INKvestment model, you’ll have to step up to the $350-list MFC-J6935DW. This is a key distinction. Not all small businesses and home offices need to scan and copy tabloid-size documents, but it is best to know what you are getting (or not) when weighing closely related models like these.

The MFC-J5930DW is an update of the Brother MFC-J5920DW we reviewed a while back. Aside from a new body style and a color change (from black to off-white, to conform with Brother’s latest design motif), and the improved print quality we mentioned earlier, this new model isn’t all that different, feature-wise, from its predecessor. That said, given the MFC-J5930DW’s strong feature set, ink-cost efficiencies, and excellent print quality, it’s our new first choice for tabloid-size multifunction inkjet printers, as its MFC-J5920DW predecessor was.

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Review of the HP OfficeJet Pro 6978 All-in-One Printer at PCMagThe HP OfficeJet Pro 6978 All-in-One Printer ($179.99) offers a wealth of features, including an auto-duplexing automatic document feeder (ADF), which many of its competitors lack. Should you opt for HP’s Instant Ink ink subscription service, it delivers competitive running costs. These perks, along with good output quality for text, graphics, and photos, elevate the OfficeJet Pro 6978 to our new Editors’ Choice midrange all-in-one printer (AIO) for low- to medium-volume printing in small or micro offices and workgroups.

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Review of the Epson Expression Home XP-440 Small-in-One Printer at Computer ShopperWe remember, about four or five years ago, when the first Epson Small-in-One printers appeared on the market. Then as now, their key selling point was, of course, size: You could buy an all-in-one (AIO) machine with a very small footprint that printed, copied, and scanned, and tuck it on the corner of your desk. The Expression Home Small-in-Ones have been a mainstay for many years, like the Expression Home XP-410 Small-in-One we reviewed back in 2013, a distant predecessor to the $99.99-MSRP Expression Home XP-440 Small-in-One we are reviewing here today.

This is actually the fourth iteration of the XP-400 series. The XP-410 mentioned above was followed by the Expression Home XP-420 and the Expression Home XP-430; we reviewed that last one less than a year ago. Aside from a new feature here or there and some performance tweaking, the XP-400 series really hasn’t seen much change over the years. And, as you can see in the image below, its physical appearance has stayed remarkably consistent, too…

Epson Expression Home XP-440 Small-in-One (Left Angled Alternate)The XP-440 is the one on the right; the XP-410 is on the left. Making a few tweaks to a product, up-ticking the name, and releasing it as a new product is common practice among printer makers. Not only does releasing slightly iterated machines with incrementally higher model numbers, year after year, keep the products themselves fresh to an extent (generating new reviews, like this one!), but it also gives us technology journalists something to do. We’re not complaining.

Like the first XP-400 series model, the XP-440 delivers top-notch quality across all of its prime functions. It churns out stellar prints, especially photos, and it scans quite well. This is, however, an entry-level, low-volume AIO printer designed for home and family use. It’s meant for environments that will demand only light usage, and that’s evidenced by its lack of an automatic document feeder (ADF) for sending multipage documents to the scanner without user intervention. That omission is expected in this price range, but it severely limits your scanning capabilities.

Like most other entry-level AIOs of its class, this one, like its predecessors, costs a lot to use, in terms of the per-page price of ink. That’s always a critical issue for us. Historically, we’ve always recommended expensive-to-use machines like this one with the caveat that, because of the running cost, they are practical for only minimal use (say, no more than a few hundred prints or copies per month). Our beef is that the buyers of these entry-level AIOs who actually use their printers day to day end up getting taxed, and heavily, for doing so.

Epson Expression Home XP-440 Small-in-One (410 vs 440)

Epson Expression Home XP-440 Small-in-One (Right Angled)Nowadays, though, with the advent of “supertank” printers like Epson’s own EcoTank models and Canon’s MegaTank AIOs (such as the Epson Expression ET-3600 and Canon Pixma G3200), users have more choices. If you need to print hundreds of pages on your entry-level AIO, you can opt to pay more for the printer itself, with the aim being to pay less for the ink to keep it going. If, on the other hand, you need a printer but will use it little, you can spend less than $100 on a small AIO like the XP-440, in exchange for higher per-page ink costs over its life. If you print only a few pages each month, then the cost of ink is less important. Hence, our perspective on the cost per page typically seen in low-cost entry-level AIOs like this one has changed with the times.

That said, the Epson Expression XP-440’s running costs are, as you’ll see in the Cost Per Page section later on, quite high. Even so, if all you need is to print and make copies on a small scale, the XP-440 is designed to do just that, and it does it quite well.

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Review of the Epson Expression ET-2600 EcoTank All-in-One at Computer ShopperHere we are a year and a half (or so) after Epson first released its consumer- and small-office-grade EcoTank “supertank” printers in the United States, It’s a product introduction that, if you believe what the Japanese electronics giant tells us, has met with huge success.

While we complained for years about inkjet-printer makers selling ink for exorbitant per-page prices (and like to think that we did our bit to spur change), when EcoTank printers came out, we wondered whether U.S. consumers would recognize the benefit of paying more for the printer up front to save on the ongoing cost of ink. EcoTank printers, like the Expression ET-2550 EcoTank All-in-One, after all, are priced at four or five times more than their non-“supertanker” counterparts.

If what Epson told us about EcoTank printer sales is accurate (and we have no reason to believe that it’s not), consumers indeed have embraced this new way to buy printers. The release of the $279.99 Expression ET-2600 EcoTank All-in-One (today’s review model) and its $20-more-expensive ET-2650 EcoTank  sibling marks round two in what we have recently dubbed the “big ink” wars. (Both are upgrades to the Expression ET-2550.) Epson, by expanding the EcoTank product line, has co-signed this pay-more-now-to-pay-less-later approach to selling printers, while Brother, with its INKvestment product line, came onboard a while back. And Canon recently joined the fray with its new MegaTank Pixma G-series machines. It’s clear: This battle of the ink bottle is on.

Epson Expression ET-2600 (Three Quarters View)

Instead of using standard ink cartridges, Epson’s EcoTank printers, like Canon’s MegaTank machines, deploy relatively large reservoirs that you fill with ink from bottles. (Brother’s INKvestment products continue to use cartridges.) In either case, the idea is the same: lower running costs, higher initial purchase prices.

Which brings us back to the Expression ET-2600. As mentioned, Epson offers two Expression ET-2600-series models. The difference between them: The Expression ET-2650 comes with a slot for printing from SD cards, and it supports Wi-Fi Direct (a peer-to-peer protocol that allows you to print from and scan to mobile devices without a network). If you need either of these features, spending the additional $20 for the Expression ET-2650 seems like a no-brainer to us.

Aside from rock-bottom running costs, what the Expression ET-2600 and ET-2650 have going for them is excellent print quality; we’ll discuss that in more detail in the Output Quality section later on. In fact, graphics and photo quality are exceptional, with only one caveat: The Expression ET-2600, like its predecessor, can’t print borderless documents or photos. We’ll look at why that’s important, also, later on.

Epson Expression ET-2600 (Angled)

As we’ve said about other EcoTank (and Canon MegaTank) models, don’t let the price fool you. This is above all else a low-volume, entry-level printer priced to save you money on the ongoing per-page price of ink. And from that perspective, it works. It prints well and costs very little to use, and it provides the ability to scan and copy, also on a low-volume basis. If that’s all you need, the Expression ET-2600 should serve you well.

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Review of the Epson Expression ET-2650 EcoTank All-in-One Printer at PCMagA remake of the Expression ET-2550, the Epson Expression ET-2650 EcoTank All-in-One Printer ($299.99) is a low-volume inkjet all-in-one printer (AIO) with a feature set that relegates it to light-duty home use. Like Epson’s other “supertank” EcoTank models (and now Canon’s G-series MegaTank printers, including the similarly priced Canon Pixma G3200 Wireless MegaTank All-in-One Printer), the basic principle behind the ET-2650 is that you pay more for the product upfront and much less for the ink to keep it running. The ET-2650 performs better than its predecessor, and like all EcoTank models, running costs are quite low. But like the ET-2550 before it, it lacks an automatic document feeder (ADF), an auto-duplexer, and a few other notable features. You give up a lot to print inexpensively, but if basic is all you need, this upgrade is more attractive than the model it replaces.

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HP LaserJet Pro MFP M130fw review at PCMagThe HP LaserJet Pro MFP M130fw ($259.99) is an inexpensive monochrome laser all-in-one printer (AIO) designed for micro- and home-office use. Given its compact size and feature set, it should perform well as a personal AIO, too. It’s significantly smaller and lighter than the Editors’ Choice Canon imageClass MF227dw, but even though both machines are similarly priced, the M130fw comes up short in a few key areas. It supports only manual duplexing, for instance, and has higher-than-average running costs. Even so, the LaserJet Pro M130fw is a solid choice overall for low-volume small and home-based office monochrome output, as well as moderate personal printing, copying, scanning, and faxing.

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Brother MFC-J5830DW Review and Ratings at Computer ShopperWith its Business Smart series of multifunction printers (MFPs), Brother continues its tradition of offering highly useful business machines that are competitive values, as demonstrated with the wide-format-capable Brother MFC-J6535DW we reviewed recently. (We define “wide-format” here as tabloid printing, to 11×17-inch stock.) That Brother is fast, prints well overall, and, as one of the company’s INKvestment machines, delivers reasonable running costs, especially compared to some tabloid-capable competitors, such as the HP Officejet Pro 7740 Wide-Format All-in-One. (INKvestment models feature high-yield, low-cost ink tanks.) In addition, the MFC-J6535DW not only prints tabloid-size pages, but it can also scan and copy them, as can the Officejet Pro 7740.

Today’s review unit, the $249.99-list Brother MFC-J5830DW, though, cannot do that. It prints tabloid-size pages, but it can only scan, copy, and fax pages up to legal-size, or 8.5×14 inches. Also an INKvestment model, it lists for a little less (about $30) than the larger Brother MFC-J6535DW, but a little more (about $50) than the Officejet Pro 7740. INKvestment printers, along the same rough lines as Epson’s EcoTank and Canon’s MegaTank families of printer, sell for more on the front end, when you purchase them, but keeping them fed with ink costs significantly less, both by the cartridge (in Brother’s case, anyway; the others we mentioned use refillable reservoirs) and on a per-page basis. As we’ll discuss later on, both the MFC-J6535DW and the MFC-J5830DW cost significantly less to use than HP’s Officejet Pro 7740.

On the other hand, the HP model prints better overall, which, depending on what you print, may or may not matter much. Also, if you don’t need a printer that can scan and copy wide-format pages, an advantage of the MFC-J5830DW over the MFC-J6535DW (in addition to price) is that the former is smaller and lighter. That can be important in small offices and workgroups short on space.Brother MFC-J5830DW (Front)

A key disadvantage of the MFC-J5830DW, though, is that its automatic document feeder (ADF) can’t scan or copy both sides of two-sided originals without your having to turn them over manually, nor can it print two-sided wide-format documents. The step-up MFC-J6535DW doesn’t have an auto-duplexing scanner, either, but HP’s Officejet Pro 7740 does. We’ll look a little closer at why this feature is important in the section coming up next.

Our bottom line is that the HP Officejet 7740 is more versatile, and it prints graphics and images a little better, but the MFC-J5830DW is much cheaper to use. You should choose the latter (or the MFC-J6535DW, should you need to scan and copy wide-format pages) if you need to print more than a few hundred pages each month, and if you don’t need pristine graphics and images. This is not to say that this Brother model doesn’t print well enough for business applications. It’s really a matter of what features you need and whether running costs outweigh overall print quality. Wherever you land on that spectrum, the Brother MFC-J5830DW is more than adequate for most small-business environments, but we caution you to consider your needs carefully, as the MFC-J6535DW provides better scanning and copying options.

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