Brother MFC-J5720DW Business Smart review
The MFC-J5720DW is the largest model in Brother’s new J5000 Series of inkjet MFPs, and it packs in a superb range of features at a giveaway price. It touts fast mono and colour speeds, laser-trouncing running costs, wired or wireless operation and automatic duplexing. See also: What are the best inkjet printers for professional photographers?
Its dual 250-sheet lower trays are partnered by a rear multipurpose tray, and the real clincher is that all three support A3 paper. Brother has also improved build quality: the trays are sturdier than the manual feed supports we criticised on the MFC-J4710DW.
Forget any preconceptions you may have about inkjets being more expensive than lasers: so long as you opt for the XL ink cartridges, mono and colour pages work out at 0.8p and 3.8p per page. The printer comes with standard cartridges, but there’s no benefit to buying more at this capacity since they push up page costs to 2.3p and 7.3p.
The printer’s colour touchscreen is easy to use, with chunky icons to show scan, copy and fax operations. It also provides swift access to an array of cloud features, with options for Box, Google Drive, Evernote, Dropbox, Facebook, Picasa, Flickr, OneNote and OneDrive.
Setting up access is a cinch: we selected Google Drive, entered the unique registration code provided by Brother’s cloud portal and enabled PIN-protected access. We uploaded images from the scanner and a USB stick to our account, browsed our cloud folders and picked files to print or save to USB. Simple.
Brother’s web-based UI provides effortless access to the printer’s other features – for example, monitoring consumables and creating a 100-entry fax address book. With LDAP enabled, we were able to browse a list of Active Directory users from the printer and send emails and faxes to them.
We created scan profiles for FTP servers and network shares, and used the Windows Control Center 4 utility to access copy, scan, OCR and fax functions from the desktop. Scan operations can also be linked directly to local apps such as email.
Wired and wireless modes are set from the web interface, but note that both can’t be active simultaneously. While NFC isn’t supported, Apple AirPrint worked fine with our iPad, and Brother’s nifty iPrint&Scan mobile app let us print directly from our photo album and any registered cloud services.
Alas, we couldn’t match Brother’s claimed 27ppm print speeds in our tests. Our 27-page Word document was delivered at 21ppm using the driver’s Fast mode, 15.5ppm at Normal and 1.7ppm at Best mode. Likewise, our colour 24-page DTP print returned only 1.4ppm in Best mode, while a high-resolution A3 poster crawled out in around six minutes. Duplexing is also tardy: a 24-page Word document printed at a noisy 6ppm.
The scanner produces excellent results, but its ADF is noisy, and slow, with a ten-page copy in Normal mode returning mono and colour speeds of 11ppm and 8.5ppm.
Output quality varied significantly across different paper weights. We found Fast and Normal modes on low-cost 90gsm paper were only good enough for draft copies since text was slightly fuzzy. Heavier, 100gsm paper produced sharper text, and although colour graphics and photos were more detailed, they were still pallid and lacking in contrast. Glossy photo paper produced far superior detail and vivid colours, but some bleeding along the edges was evident and the print heads left unsightly scuff marks on the surface.
The MFC-J5720DW takes some beating in the value stakes, but its average print quality and low speeds compromise its scores. It wins out for paper flexibility, though, with A3 support across the three main paper sources. Plus, its cloud features are among the best here and printing costs are commendably low.
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