IT Pro is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Brother MFC-J491DW review: Underwhelming for the price

This A4 inkjet isn’t bad, but there are much better alternatives

On paper, Brother's MFC-J491DW looks like it has everything you need from a home office multifunction device. This compact A4 colour inkjet combines printer, scanner, fax and copier functions, and connects to a wireless network. It can print double-sided, and its 20-sheet ADF helps with multipage copies and faxes.

In the flesh, it's less convincing. The clattery and flexible 100-sheet paper tray is the most obvious culprit, but there's a lack of polish when compared to rival MFPs. For example, the ink tanks aren't physically keyed, so it's possible to insert the wrong colour if you're not paying attention. It's also a squat, boxy affair that doesn't particularly inspire even by the comparatively low standards of printer design.

There are neat touches: the ADF folds away into the top panel when you're not using it and you can take direct control via a compact colour screen and conventional buttons. It's more cluttered than a touchscreen, but still easy to use.

The MFC-J491DW is typically in less of a hurry than you are. It delivered a first page of text in just ten seconds but reached only 10.9ppm over our full 25-page test, rising to 13.9ppm in draft mode. At 2.6ppm, colour graphics were slow, as was a 1.8ppm result when printing double-sided. Single mono copies took 17 seconds, with colour pages taking twice as long. Using the ADF, a ten-page mono single-sided copy needed two and a half minutes, and just under three minutes in colour.

By comparison, scans were quick, with a 150dpi A4 image needing 14 seconds, and even a detailed 1,200dpi 10 x 15cm photo scan completed in under a minute.

Unfortunately, our results didn't impress. Plain paper text quality was fine, but graphics lacked punch, looking a little washed out. Black photocopies were acceptable, but colour copies were more drab than the originals. Most photo prints suffered the same fate, too. Scans were also a little disappointing, with sharp focus but a loss of detail among dark shades.

Overall, the MFC-J491DW doesn't do much wrong, but it doesn't excel anywhere either. At this price, it's simply too lacklustre to compete.

Verdict

This A4 inkjet MFP may be cheap, but don’t let that fool you - the compromises made do not equate to good value. You’re better off spending a little more to get a much more satisfying result

Max print resolution

6,000 x 1,200dpi

Dimensions

400 x 341 x 172mm

Paper capacity

Tray (100)

Cost per page (standard, mono)

2.9p

Weight

8.3kg

Featured Resources

Four strategies for building a hybrid workplace that works

All indications are that the future of work is hybrid, if it's not here already

Free webinar

The digital marketer’s guide to contextual insights and trends

How to use contextual intelligence to uncover new insights and inform strategies

Free Download

Ransomware and Microsoft 365 for business

What you need to know about reducing ransomware risk

Free Download

Building a modern strategy for analytics and machine learning success

Turning into business value

Free Download

Recommended

Kyocera Ecosys FS-1061DN review: Affordable, but uninspiring
peripherals

Kyocera Ecosys FS-1061DN review: Affordable, but uninspiring

17 May 2022
Oki B432dn review: A masterful mono laser
peripherals

Oki B432dn review: A masterful mono laser

16 May 2022
How to buy the right printer for your business
Hardware

How to buy the right printer for your business

13 May 2022
The best small printers of 2022
Hardware

The best small printers of 2022

6 May 2022

Most Popular

Windows Server admins say latest Patch Tuesday broke authentication policies
Server & storage

Windows Server admins say latest Patch Tuesday broke authentication policies

12 May 2022
Costa Rica declares state of emergency following Conti ransomware attack
ransomware

Costa Rica declares state of emergency following Conti ransomware attack

10 May 2022
16 ways to speed up your laptop
Laptops

16 ways to speed up your laptop

13 May 2022