Essentially a faster version of the Brother PDS-5000 we reviewed recently, the $1,399.99 Brother PDS-6000 High-Speed Color Desktop Scanner is a fast and accurate sheet-feed document scanner for high-volume use in small and medium-size offices and workgroups. Speed-wise, it’s rated slightly higher than its less expensive sibling and that model’s comparably priced competitor, the Editors’ Choice HP ScanJet Enterprise Flow 7000. In testing, it did manage to scan faster and save to image PDF a little quicker than both the PDS-5000 and ScanJet 7000, but not enough to warrant the PDS-6000’s $500 price difference. Besides, when saving to the more useful searchable PDF format, it fell well behind the ScanJet 7000 and other competitors. Even so, if raw imaging speed is what you’re looking for, the PDS-6000 hardware is among the fastest we’ve recently seen in this class.
A high-volume sheet-fed document scanner designed for heavy workloads in medium-to-large offices and workgroups, the $899.99 Brother PDS-5000 High-Speed Color Desktop Scanner is fast and accurate. But compared with the similarly priced Editors’ Choice HP ScanJet Enterprise 7000 s3 Sheet-Feed Scanner, it comes up somewhat short in performance and features. In testing, the PDS-5000 wasn’t quite as fast at saving to searchable PDF, nor as accurate, as the ScanJet, and the Brother model’s software bundle isn’t as well-rounded. The PDS-5000 does have a higher capacity automatic document feeder (ADF), though, and it’s more than quick and accurate enough to make it a serious contender for use in medium-to-heavy scanning environments.
A sheet-feed, network document scanner, the Brother ImageCenter ADS-3600W ($799.99) offers excellent value, with a solid feature set and strong performance. It’s not as elegant, nor is its software as network-friendly, as the Editors’ Choice Canon imageFormula ScanFront 400. The ScanFront 400, however, sells for more than twice as much and is limited to Ethernet connectivity, while the ADS-3600W connects via USB, Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, and NFC in addition to Ethernet. It’s an easy pick as Editors’ Choice for midrange to heavy-duty network scanning in small and midsize offices and workgroups.
With 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.
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.
Unlike Epson’s EcoTank models, which come with large ink reservoirs or saddlebags coupled to the sides of the chassis, or HP’s Instant Ink subscription service (or Canon’s soon-to-be-reviewed MegaTank Pixmas, also with built-in ink tanks of their own), INKvestment printers simply supply you with bundles of relatively high-capacity ink cartridges at low prices. Like Epson EcoTank and Canon MegaTank printers, though, to compensate for the manufacturers’ loss of income from ink sales, you pay more for the printer itself up front.
With INKvestment, how much more you pay for the printer depends on which version of the specific printer you choose. Take today’s review machine, the Brother MFC-J6535DW. It’s a small-business-minded inkjet that can handle tabloid-size (11×17-inch) paper and scan media. You can buy an MFC-J6535DW “XL” version of the product for a list price of $549.99, or the non-XL version (the model we’re reviewing here) for a $279.99 MSRP. Why that $270 difference?
With the MFC-J6535DW XL, you get five sets of relatively high-volume ink cartridges (that’s 20 total cartridges) that Brother claims should last you two years, while with the non-XL version you get only one set (four cartridges). Note that we say “relatively high-volume” because nowadays some printers, such as the HP PageWide Pro MFP 577dw, support cartridges that yield up to 17,000 pages. Brother’s ink tanks are only a fraction of that size.
As we’ll discuss later on, which version of this printer you should choose depends on your print and copy volume. In most cases, if you can afford the initial $550 outlay, the MFC-J6535DW XL will save you money in the long run, compared to non-INKvestment Brother inkjets and several other competing printers. With either version, you’ll realize some of the lowest per-page running costs in the business.
That said, while they’re certainly important, per-page ink costs are not the only consideration when buying a printer. Output quality matters, too, and the MFC-J6535DW prints well enough for most business applications. But its so-so graphics and image output could limit those possibilities for pickier home-office and small-office users. Also, the MFC-J6535DW’s automatic document feeder doesn’t support auto-duplexing—that is, automatic two-sided scanning for making copies or digital files.
One special perk of this printer, though, does involve duplexing of a different kind. The MFC-J6535DW does support not just printing but duplex printing of tabloid-size pages, and it can scan pages up to that size, too. And, as with most printers these days, you get a bushel of mobile- and cloud-connectivity options.
Also in the bundle is a two-year limited warranty. Brother printers are traditionally pretty hardy when it comes to build quality and longevity. That, combined with its highly competitive cost per page (CPP), makes the MFC-J6535DW and the ink-stacked MFC-J6535DW XL both good values. Which one you should choose, again, depends on how much you mean to print and copy, and what you can afford.
The Brother MFC-L5700DW ($349.99) is a capable midrange monochrome laser all-in-one printer designed for micro offices and small workgroups. It has a generous standard paper capacity that’s highly expandable, and text print quality is above average (though grayscale graphics and photos are not as good). Like the Editors’ Choice HP LaserJet Pro MFP M426fdw, it’s inexpensive and small enough to serve as a relatively high-volume personal machine. Unlike the M426fdw, though, the MFC-L5700DW’s automatic document feeder (ADF) is not auto-duplexing. Because of that, and a comparatively low monthly duty cycle, its $100 lower list price is not quite enough to help it replace the LaserJet as our top choice for heavy-duty use in a micro office.
The Brother ImageCenter ADS-2000e ($349.99) is an apt, low-priced sheet-fed document scanner designed for low- to midrange-volume scanning in a small office, and it should also make a good personal document scanner. Like the Editors’ Choice Canon imageFormula DR-C225, it comes with an assortment of top-tier scanning and optical character recognition (OCR) software, as well as document and business card management applications. While its scanning speeds come close to matching Brother’s ratings, it’s a bit slow at saving to searchable PDF. It’s still fast enough for the price, though, and its OCR accuracy approaches that of higher-priced competitors, making it a solid budget-friendly alternative to the Canon DR-C225.
The Brother HL-L6300DW ($399.99) is a standalone mono laser printer designed for small or medium-size offices with high-volume print needs. It’s fast, and it has a strong feature set and a high standard paper capacity, with the ability to expand if necessary. Its running costs are among the lowest for a monochrome laser printer in its class, and its security features include an integrated near-field communications (NFC) card reader. It churns out terrific-looking text, too, though it doesn’t print graphics and photos as good as what you’ll get from the Dell Smart Printer S2830dn or the HP LaserJet Pro M501dn (both Editors’ Choice models). Otherwise, the HL-L6300DW is a good fit for offices and workgroups with heavy-duty print volumes, making it our new Editors’ Choice for a moderate- to high-volume monochrome laser printer for small offices and workgroups.
Read the entire Brother’s ImageCenter ADS-3000N Document Scanner review at About.com
The Printer / Scanner section of About.com has recognized Brother’s Business Smart series of multifunction printers for a number of reasons, often including relatively fast print speeds, overall print quality, a relatively low cost per page, or CPP, and support for wide-format (tabloid, or 11×17-inch) paper. However, the level of support each machine has for tabloid paper varies from model to model.