Brother X-Series MFC-J6945DW review: Unbeatable value

Variable print speeds but this well-featured A3 inkjet MFP won’t be beaten on running costs

IT Pro Value
Price
£317
  • Outstanding value; Great cloud support; Super simple setup; Phenomenal print quality
  • Speeds could be better

Brother's Business Smart X-Series printers aim to deliver affordable A3 printing to SMBs on a tight budget. The MFC-J6945DW on review shows Brother isn't kidding around: this A3 colour inkjet MFP only costs just over 300 and sweetens the deal further with laser-trouncing running costs.

No half-empty starter cartridge trickery here either - this printer ships with Brother's standard high-yield ink cartridges. Once you've used these up, replace them with the super high yield versions and you'll pay 0.9p for an A4 mono page and only 3.6p for colour - costs no laser MFP in this price bracket can match.

The MFC-J6945DW is also well-connected; it offers 10/100 Ethernet, 11n wireless, NFC and USB 2, WiFi Direct plus AirPrint are present and correct, it supports Brother's extensive range of mobile apps and it works with a heap of cloud storage providers.

Installation on the lab's wired network was swift and the printer also checked for new firmware and upgraded itself with a couple of button presses. Desktop tools include Brother's ControlCenter4 (CC4) scan management utility, its Windows iPrint&Scan workflow app and Nuance's PaperPort 14 SE document management software. We also used the iPrint&Scan iOS app to scan documents to our iPad, browse our cloud storage accounts and choose files to print.

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Brother's Web Connect portal makes light work of setting up direct scanning to the cloud. Choose from the eight supported providers, add your account details and enter the unique 11-digit code provided at the printer's panel.

The Secure Cloud Print service allows you to print Office, PDF and graphics files over the internet using a web browser. Enter and bookmark the printer's ID URL shown in its colour touchscreen, choose a local file, send it and enter the unique six-digit password at the printer to release it.

Brother claims A4 mono and colour print speeds of 22ppm and 20ppm but these are only achievable with the driver's Standard setting. Our 22-page Word document was printed at 22ppm in Standard mode but speed tumbled to 5ppm for Fine mode and 2.3ppm in Best mode.

A 24-page colour DTP print returned 17ppm in Standard and a pedestrian 2ppm in Best mode. A3 colour posters took 22s for Standard and just over 6m for Best while borderless A4 colour photos on glossy paper arrived in 3m 44s.

Duplexing our 22-page document print in Normal mode returned 13ppm while 10-page copies using the scanner's duplex ADF were timed at 13ppm and 5ppm for single-sided and duplex-to-duplex modes. Sound levels during testing weren't excessive as printing produced 66dB from one metre and copying 68dB.

Text quality depends entirely on paper weight and resolution with 75gsm paper and Normal mode revealing significant smearing and dusting on fonts smaller than 12pts. This cleared slightly at Best mode with 100gsm paper producing noticeably cleaner results.

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No such problems with colour printing - our reports, photos and A3 posters at Best mode exhibited excellent levels of detail. They stood out with bold, punchy colours while large areas of single colours such as skies were as smooth as silk with no banding evident.

Access controls are good too. Enabling the printer's Secure Function Lock from its web interface allows you to decide who can print in colour and use functions such as scanning and copying. This links up with the driver's user authentication feature which can also be used to PIN protect confidential prints.

Small businesses that want affordable A3 colour printing won't find a better alternative to Brother's MFC-J6945DW. High resolution prints are slow but colour quality is very good, running costs are remarkably low and cloud support is outstanding.

Verdict

Small businesses that want affordable A3 colour printing won’t find a better alternative to Brother’s MFC-J6945DW. High resolution prints are slow but colour quality is very good, running costs are remarkably low and cloud support is outstanding.

4,800 x 1,200dpi A3 colour inkjet MFP 1,200 x 2,400dpi A3 colour flatbed scanner 512MB RAM 22/20ppm A4 mono/colour 9.3cm colour touchscreen 10/100 Ethernet 11n wireless 33.6Kb/sec fax NFC USB 2 duplex 2 x 250-page A3 paper trays 100-page MPT, 50-page DADF max. rec. monthly duty cycle, 2,000 pages 575 x 477 x 379mm WDH 24.2kg 1yr RTB warranty

RUNNING COSTS Super high yield ink: K (6K pages), £51 C, Y, M (5K pages), £45 each

Overall cost per A4 page: mono, 0.9p; colour, 3.6p

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