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.