Brother MFC-J4510DW £125
3rd Dec 2012 | 00:00
An innovative all-in-one A3 printer
This new multifunction printer has a twist. Specifically, it has a 90-degree twist. Instead of feeding the paper through the printer in portrait mode, with the short edge emerging first, the Brother MFC-J4510DW turns it sideways so it prints in landscape orientation.
This offers several advantages over the more traditional setup. It can print on A3-sized (11 x 17-inch) paper by taking the page through the printer short end first. A3 pages have to be hand-fed, one at a time through the manual feed slot at the rear of the printer, so it's not suitable for heavy-volume A3 printing.
Instead, think of it as an A4 (US letter size) printer that can print the occasional A3 page.
Although it can handle A3, unlike its A3 stablemate the Brother MFC-J6910DW, it's no larger than most A4 printers.
Measuring just 48cm (18.9 inches) end to end, 29cm (11.4 inches) tall and 18.5cm (7.3 inches) high, it's clearly designed for the home or small office, where space is likely to be at a premium.
Indeed, the Brother MFC-J4510DW is the first in a series of five J4000-range releases for the small office and home office (SOHO) market, where it's up against printers such as the Canon Pixma MX895 and laser printers such as the HP TopShot LaserJet Pro M275.
The Brother MFC-J4510DW has Ethernet and Wi-Fi networking, or you can connect it directly to your computer using USB. It's AirPrint and Google Cloud Print compatible, and you can print directly from USB storage, PictBridge and Media Card ports.
Being an all-in-one machine, it can scan and photocopy as well as print, though the flatbed scanner is limited to A4 in size. It can fax too.
Its 150-sheet paper tray (up to A4 in size) and 20-sheet automatic document feeder (also A4) make it ideally suited to light office work, and automatic Duplex printing and optional high-yield supplies help bring down the overall running costs.
Previous attempts at developing landscape-feed printers have failed due to the paper curling after being output. Brother claims to have solved these long-standing problems using an "innovative rippling process during printing". But does it work? Let's take a look.
The Brother MFC-J4510DW certainly isn't short on features. Connectivity is comprehensive, with Ethernet cabled networking joined by secure Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n).
Mobile printing is well catered for too. It's AirPrint and Google Cloud Print ready, and you can download a smartphone app for printing from and scanning directly to your phone.
You can print from most portable storage formats too, including USB flash drives of up to 32GB, and SD cards.
Its print engine is based on a four-tank system of black, cyan, yellow and magenta.
Brother claims it's the fastest printer in its class, outputting 20 pages per minute in monochrome and 18 pages per minute in colour. These speeds also rise to 35 mono pages per minute and 27 in colour using its fastest print mode. It has automatic two-sided printing, but only using paper of up to A4 in size.
Paper handling is what you'd expect from a home office printer. The paper tray holds 150 sheets, which is enough for home use or in a small office. The manual feeder at the rear can only take one sheet at a time, which is annoying if you regularly print to letterhead, but comes in useful for occasional non-standard printing.
As a photocopier, the Brother MFC-J4510DW can enlarge documents up to 400% in size, or reduce them to 25%, in 1% increments.
It can output up to 99 copies of the original, and has an optical scan and copy resolution of up to 2,400 x 2,400 dpi in colour and mono settings.
The printer is operated through a 9.3cm (3.7-inch) colour touchscreen, with intuitive swipe controls enabling you to flick through its various options.
It also gives easy access to online sites such as Google Docs, Facebook, Flickr, Picasa, Dropbox and Evernote, printing from and scanning to these cloud services.
One thing it really lacks is an exciting - or at least interesting - name. Why do printer manufacturers insist on giving their printers barely-comprehensible strings of letters and figures for a title? Couldn't they come up with something more imaginative?
Brother has definitely solved the problem of landscape-orientated paper feeds curling the paper. Print-outs from the Brother MFC-J4510DW are as flat as those from any desktop inkjet printer - in fact, they're flatter than most.
Our 20-page test document printed perfectly, without a hint of a curl or crease. Nor did it suffer that wavy texture that curses some printers' outputs, caused by the paper pausing as it goes through the rollers.
You can't fault the Brother MFC-J4510DW for text speed either. The aforementioned 20-page test document printed in one minute, 13 seconds, which is an excellent result for an inkjet printer.
Image printing was less speedy. A standard quality photo print on plain A4 paper printed in 43 seconds. Using photo paper and the corresponding printer setting, an A4 photo printed in two minutes, nine seconds. These speeds are about average.
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The quality of the Brother MFC-J4510DW's text printing is workmanlike; it gets the job done with few significant faults, but without the style and panache you'd get from a Canon inkjet or HP Officejet.
Bold type lacks the vivid quality of the market-leading inkjets, and the characters tend to bleed a little around the edges. Text gets very flaky at low point sizes. That's not to say it's poor - it's serviceable and readable, but put it next to some of its rivals, and it looks a little tired.
Image quality was a mixed bag. An A4 photo print on plain paper at default settings proved very disappointing, with washed out colours, weak detail and a distinct green hue in the greyscale ramp.
Using proper photo paper and the appropriate printer settings (which are based on the paper used rather than any sort of quality scale), it's much better. Colours are vibrant and accurate, and despite a little speckling, the overall standard is very good for a four-tank inkjet system.
As a photocopier, the controls are easy to use and its scaling features are comprehensive.
Copying a magazine cover in A4 produced a reasonable (if a little speckled) print, but when scaling it up to A3, the print-out was cursed by a horizontal band running across the image every couple of inches. This band also marred some A4 documents printed from PDF.
Like many Brother printers, connection cabling such as Ethernet and USB leads pass under the lid of the printer and into its body before being plugged in, so make sure your lead is at least a couple of feet longer than you imagine you need.
Brother's MFC-J4510DW has an excellent range of features. Although primarily an A4 printer, it's quite capable of printing in A3, albeit one sheet at a time.
It's AirPrint and Google Cloud Print compatible, and can print from a range of media. With a 150-sheet input tray and a 20-page ADF, it's clearly designed for the home and small office, where its fax facilities and fast text printing speeds will come in very useful.
Considering its feature range, the Brother MFC-J4510DW isn't expensive to buy - costing $199.99 in the US (around £125/AU$193) - and high-yield ink tanks keep the running costs down too. Its colour touchscreen is a real boon, especially when it's network-connected, giving shortcut access to a variety of online services such as Facebook and Flickr.
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The Brother MFC-J4510DW feeds its A4 paper sideways, printing across the portrait-orientated page instead of the more common landscape printing. This useful innovation means it can print on A3 paper too, even though it's no bigger than a standard A4 printer.
A3 pages are fed into a manual feed slot at the rear of the printer in a landscape orientation. Brother has solved the problem of paper curling that hampered previous attempts at landscape-orientated printers; pages output by the Brother MFC-J4510DW are totally flat.
Text printouts are very fast, printing the 20-page text document we use for benchmarking in just one minute, 13 seconds. Photo and image speeds are reasonable, if unremarkable.
Photo-paper printing is pretty respectable for an office-orientated four-tank inkjet, and its automatic Duplex printing is welcome, as is its colour touchscreen LCD, which enables you to swipe between control screens.
The Brother MFC-J4510DW's overall print quality is workmanlike, and frequently fails to match the standards set by market-leading inkjet printers.
Although entirely serviceable, its text print-outs lack the vibrancy of some of its rivals, especially those that offer a pigment black tank alongside dye-based colour inks. Plain paper images can be speckled or banded.
It's not suitable for regular or high-volume A3 printing, because pages of this size have to be fed into the manual feed slot one at a time - you can't load several A3 pages into the feeder and print multiple copies of a document, one after another.
But since the Brother MFC-J4510DW is primarily an A4 printer, perhaps its limited A3 capabilities should be considered a bonus.
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This feature-rich and innovative printer is good value for money, especially for the small office and home office.
It has a lot going for it - especially its text speeds and touchscreen controls - and although it can handle A3 pages fed in single sheets, it's the same size as most A4 printers.
High-yield ink tanks are available, and they're accessed via a door in the front of the printer, so there's no need to open the lid and lift the scanner bed every time you need to replace one.
And although printers aren't exactly known for their looks, the Brother MFC-J4510DW is reasonably stylish.
Unfortunately, the quality of its printouts is merely average, and struggles to match the standards offered by leading home office inkjet printers such as the Canon Pixma MX895 and HP TopShot LaserJet Pro M275.