on July 25, 2013
My 3 year old HP PhotoSmart printer died (control panel dead) so I ventured back into the printer marketplace. I am a low print volume home user. My main criteria was to find a reliable printer with low cost of operation. It seemed to me I was spending too much for ink based on the number of documents/pictures that I printed. I narrowed my selection to either a Brother or an HP 8600. The Brother ink cartridges seemed less expensive compared to the other brands. Printer reviews showed that the HP 8600 line had favorable costs per page for ink consumption. Fortunately my Consumer Reports magazine (August, 2013) arrived in the mail. It had an article titled "The Case of the Disappearing Ink." Their tests identified the extra cost of occasional printing (ink consumed for maintenance tasks like head cleaning). They cited Brother printers as being most frugal with annual costs in the 0 to $15 range. The HP 8600 was the worst case with a $126 annual cost. Obviously I selected this Brother Printer.
Installation: I had no major problems installing it (Windows 7, wireless network.)
Print Quality: I printed a few photos and a sample of documents. I have no issues with print quality.
Fax: Works fine over my Time Warner digital phone system.
Scanner and Copy functions seem comparable to my HP. For fax, scanning and copy I find that the document feeder is very handy.
I did print a few things from my Android tablet just to see if it worked. No problems.
Only time will tell if it meets my reliability and costs expectations. If you are a high volume user (over 500 pages a month) I would look at the HP 8600 line.
My experience with HP and Epson printers has been less than stellar. Lesser recognized printer brands like Brother, Samsung, Canon, etc. surprise me with great print quality, good hardware & software, ease of setup and low cost print supplies.
This Brother All-in-One (AIO) is no exception. It provides great output in a small package at a sub hundred dollar level.The printer is very compact for an AIO.
The printer has a plasticky, flimsy, light-weight feel and does not feel robust. That is generally not an issue for a printer, but for an AIO where you will be interacting a little more with the hardware when using the Scan and Fax functions, it becomes an issue. You have to be extra delicate around it. With teenagers/kids (my purpose!) handling it, I expect a few cracks or tray dislocations.
I am a neat freak and I do appreciate the included cord management. Some might find this tedious as the ports are located toward the front center of the printer and below the scanning glass. The telephone wires come in from a small removeable plastic tab on the right of the printer and the USB and ethernet cables from the back of the printer.
Print and copy quality are excellent. Photos print out a little softer, but it is definitely excellent for all home or school purposes. I printed a color demo page and copied it - there was little to no difference beween the original and the copy.
Scanning also provides excellent results. You can create an OCR file, save to file or USB drive, save as image or email directly using the built-in color LCD screen.
Fax quality is good, but appears below par as one is used to high quality copies from work and your local Kinkos.
The nicest part of this printer is the reasonable cost of supplies. Fifty dollars will get you a full set of high-yield B&W and color cartridges which will yield ~600 copies. For a home-use printer your cartridges will probably dry before you run out. The last HP color cartridge I purchased was $45 which yielded me ~300 copies before it dried out.
A little difficult to find so here are the cartridge links on Amazon:
Color: Innobella LC1033PKS Tri-pack Ink Cartridge - Cyan, Magenta, Yellow
B&W: Brother Printer LC103BK High Yield Cartridge Ink, Black
A definite recommend for a home-use printer!
* Double sided printing
* Compact Size
* Easy Setup
* Good cord management
* Lower cost cartridge costs as compared to HP and Epson
* Reasonable price point
* Cheap plasticky feel - does not feel robust
I really appreciate this printer's capabilities. I print a LOT in my career, and with this Brother printer I can cut down on the amount of paper I actually use by printing two-in-one, which prints two pages on one side of one sheet of paper, side by side. It shrinks down the pages and makes them fit perfectly, and then allows automatic double-sided printing. That means 4 pages fit on one piece of paper! That's going to save me a heck of a lot of money on paper!
The printer was easy to set up (much easier than others I've used), and I love that it's smaller than other all-in-one printers without sacrificing function. Scanning, printing, and copying all work very well. Pages look great, scans are nice and clear, and the user interface (not to be overlooked in a printer) is excellent. The touch screen interface is straightforward and simple. Everything is clearly labeled, and there are "wizards" to set things up and get you through the more technical stuff.
It's interesting that USB, LAN, and telephone lines are fed through the machine, under the top lid, instead of merely plugging in the back. I also find it kind of amusing that the top lid (not the scanner lid, but the whole printer's top) has a built-in prop. It kind of makes you feel like you're working under the hood of a high-tech car.
After using printers that do automatic double-sided printing, I can't go back to the old fashioned single-side printers. On older printers if you wanted two-sided printing, you needed to feed the paper back through manually-- Usually by reloading the tray. On this printer, it actually sucks the paper back in after printing one side, and then prints the other before spitting it out. Very cool.
I can't comment on the fax feature because I've had no occasion to use it. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it has VOIP-friendly settings in the fax setup, though, which means I should have no problem sending faxes via my Ooma service.
Ink loading is easy enough. You don't even need to open the top lid of the printer and get under the hood; It loads in a little door on the front right side of the printer. Slide in, click, you're done.
Ink prices are reasonable. First-party black ink is around $20 a cartridge, while 3rd party inks are about half that price. Of course, Brother cautions against using 3rd-party ink, but in a couple decades of using printers I've never had one suffer damage from refilled, recycled, re-manufactured or third-party inks. It's ultimately your decision, of course, but be aware that Brother probably will try to consider it a warranty-busting act to use third-party ink. From what I understand, however, the law prevents printer manufacturers from voiding your warranty for using third-party inks or refills.
I'm knocking off a single star because I don't really like the requirement to open the printer's top lid to plug in common connections like USB or telephone. It's just a strange design choice that requires a bit more work and effort to do something that, for most devices, requires simply looking at the back of the unit.
Otherwise, this is an amazingly nice printer: Fast, efficient, easy to install, and user-friendly. Four stars, and a recommendation from me to buy it if you are in the market for an all-in-one printer for the home or small office, and want to save a little space in the process.
EDIT: As the first comment indicated, I forgot to mention how handy the two-sided printing with auto-feed is. Well, let me say: It's VERY handy. I use it nearly every day for my work. It's a great feature that should not be overlooked.
This is a "value" priced home office "all-in-one" machine. It is nicer than some, but is missing features to make it past home use. The wireless features work well and it is a compact unit for what it does. It works with Macintosh, which is a plus for me. That said, there are some compromises when you get to this level of machine, vs what you might get if you move up one level. Some specific details are presented below.
* Nice size. The unit does not take up a lot of extra space on the desk or table top as the paper tray does not stick out as long as you are using US letter sized (8.5"x11") paper. If you put legal sized (8.5"x14") paper in the paper drawer, you have to pull out an extender on the drawer to fit the longer paper. This will add another few inches to the front of the unit as shown in the photo I uploaded. Not a super huge issue, but something to be aware of.
* touch screen works with just a normal touch. This seems obvious, but I've used other printer touch screens that required a fair amount of pressure and that had poor image quality. this one is nice.
* Double sided printing. This works very well. It is NOT double sided for copying or scanning, however. This is typical in this price range, but there are other under $200 machines that can copy and scan double sided. The Epson workforce is one.
* The print speed is fast enough for me that I didn't time it to check out the specs. It
* The plain paper print quality is good for blacks (Brother uses pigment ink for black) and decent for the color, which are dye based inks. Business graphics (charts, etc.) are fine. Photos tend to come out washed out a bit. In fact, the photos on plain paper look a bit like my Canon MX300 all in one, which is an older, lower end machine than this one.
* Photo quality on photo paper (4"x6") is acceptable. This is not what I would normally use this machine for, but it does have a 4"x6" photo paper compartment in the paper tray, so it is clearly intended to be able to print photos. I would call the results good enough to share casual photos. The colors are not as vivid and the image is not as sharp as a true photo printer.
* Envelope printing. You can print envelopes, but it is a minor pain to do so. This is one of the issues that prevents this from being a "small office" printer in my opinion. In order to print an envelope, you must first remove the paper tray, remove all the paper other than the 4x6 photo paper, and then re-adjust the tray pieces to accept your envelope. Then re-install the tray. So, you probably won't do this much. What I would have rather seen is a manual insertion bypass slot that can by used for individual envelopes or paper, at a minimum. Better, since this is not a photo printer, get rid of the 4x6 area in the tray and use this for number 10 envelopes. This is part of my one star downgrade.
* No manual bypass paper feed. See above. This also makes it difficult to mix logo and non-log stationery in which typically only the first page has a logo on it. This is the other half star downgrade. I would rather have had this than the less than useful CD/DVD printing feature.
* There are special orange plastic pieces that are used to cover the place that the ink tanks plug into and for each of the ink tanks as well. These are necessary if you transport the machine or remove the ink tanks. Don't lose these - I have included a photo.
* The system comes with "starter" ink tanks. This is the kind of thing that makes you believe the system has low capacity when it is not as bad if we had the standard tanks. Needless to say, these go faster than hoped for. I would recommend that they ship with standard tanks so we all don't become frustrated with seemingly poor capacity.
* The system can print on "printable" CD and DVD medial. It comes with a special carrier tray to put the CD or DVD on. This requires that you use the USB connection to print from. This seems like a poor choice for a wireless printer.
* The iPhone printing works fine.
* Set up on my home network (all Apple stuff) was super simple.
If you can get this at a good price, go for it. If you want to go back and forth between envelopes and standard paper, this is an awkward system.
*** Updated 11/30/2013 ***
My unit is now completely dead. I can't even get a test page to print from the touchscreen on the printer. I my strong recommendation is to pass on this unit. It was flaky to begin with, but the short lifespan is a deal breaker. I deducted one star from 3 to 2 on my review.
*** Updated 11/30/2013 ***
Background: I have been dissatisfied with the Epson multifunction printers that I have had in the past, and I decided to give this one from Brother a try. I only have need for print, copy, and scan functions; therefore, this review will not cover the fax (we no longer have a landline to use it).
Setup: The Quick Start Guide is very easy to follow, and the protective tape comes off with no issues either. I was able to connect to my hidden wireless network using the touchscreen on the printer. On the software side, the CD-ROM guides you through the process. I chose to do a custom install so that it would not install the unnecessary fax utilities. It gives you the option of registering your printer during software installation. You will need to write down the serial number located on the back of the device. After you do this, all that is left is the standard Windows reboot.
Print: The installation process gives you the option of setting the Brother as your default printer, which I did. It comes up in PowerPoint, Word, and other print dialogs as expected. This is where the compromises at this price point start to show up. Black and white documents looked good, but users accustomed to laser printer quality will find the quality lacking. Text is readable, but I noticed a lack of sharpness - especially with colored text. On the plus side, the printing speed is noticeably faster than the Epson models I've used.
Copy: Single copies made directly on the glass are spot on accurate in their position, and black and white performs well. Color copies were disappointing. Solid blocks of color (as you would see in charts and graphs) are washed out compared to the original. In addition, copies from the auto-feeder are slightly off in positioning from the original, but not enough to be a concern. There was no difference in solid color quality from either method.
Scan: Scanning performance mirrors copying almost identically; however, the sharpness is somewhat decreased. Black and white scans for business documents will come through with more than sufficient quality.
Other: This model comes with support for NFC (near field communication), and I was able to print a picture from my Sony Xperia Z Tablet. It was a 4x6 photo, and printing was much slower than for documents. Quality of the print was good. Picture quality is actually quite a bit better than documents.
Conclusion: This color multifunction printer from Brother does a lot at its price point. It is best a black and white documents and pictures, while color performance is only average. The NFC feature is nice, but this will appeal to a narrow user base. Please ask any questions you may have in the "comments" section below.
on August 22, 2013
My first printer for my Mac was my old HP which served me for years. It sort-of worked. HP told me they no longer support the Mac drivers. I told them I was switching to Epson.
The Epson printer gave me nothing but problems. I was always un-installing, then re-installing the USB drivers. I switched back to HP.
My last HP printer used a black cartridge and tri-color cartridge with built-in print heads, the 74X and 75X. It had a few quirks but was usable for a good service life. Now I searched for a replacement. HP no longer uses the 74X/75X and have switched to individual color cartridges. Ok, sounds good - just replace the color which runs dry to save money. But, reviews have been dismal about ink usage and unforgiving firmware which forces the user to purchase unnecessary new ink cartridges.
I have been looking for months at the new HP's, Canon, and Epson for a network printer which can FAX aka "all-in-one." I came up empty. None of these major brands produce a printer with good reviews. I'm reading about poor customer service, DOA printers, horrible ink usage, and cranky firmware.
I never thought that Brother would have what I needed. I use and abuse their label maker (tip: it's much easier printing address labels than trying to feed envelopes through a printer!) This printer is amazing. Within half an hour, I had it faxing, scanning, copying, and printing. It has all kinds of little features which make life easier, such as the ability to preview a multi-page FAX before dialing and printing a confirmation page for a successful FAX. With my HP, I needed to watch the display for a confirmation.
It's far quieter than my HP. It picked up an incoming FAX and I didn't even know. The touchscreen panel swivels (wow factor). The ADF folds out of the way so it's nearly half the height. As someone else mentioned, the connectors for the network, USB, and phone are inside the printer - a little weird, but more of a cord organizer to keep your desk neat. Didn't see it as an issue.
Installing on a Mac was very easy... once I found the drivers, which were not on the CD. The installation experience was unpleasant. Mac owners should not worry, but note you must download the CUPS printer driver from the Brother website which is easy to find. Grab the Twain interface, too - it's amazing. I usually skip Twain since it's so much problem on a PC, but on the Mac it seems flawless.
Don't bother with the included driver CD. For Mac, it's useless. It kept insisting that I go through a guided wireless installation and did not install any of the drivers I needed. If you're the type of person who likes to spend their weekends fighting with computers, by all means embrace wireless printing. I gave up years ago. I don't install USB printers or wireless printers, never again. I always run an Ethernet cable directly to my router and set a static IP address. Trust me. Macs don't like USB devices which can be turned on and off when they're trying to sleep (may cause a kernel panic). And, if you've got VMware, sharing a network printer between three operating systems is infinitely easier than switching USB devices. Google bonjour for windows and CUPS. yea, it's a painful learning process, but you only have to do it once.
Even more unpleasant was finding the CD label program which is supposed to be bundled with the printer. I haven't found it yet. It's not easy to find on Brother's website, but it's mentioned in the manual. Google found it for me. I ran it - wow, really powerful CD/DVD printing program for inkjet printable media. I usually just use a Sharpie marker.
If I find anything else worthy of mention, I'll update my review. But, I am almost ready to chuck my HP printer for good and switching to Brother. I just wish they'd make the Mac installation procedure a bit more friendly.
on September 24, 2013
Like so many consumers, I was looking for a printer that was ready for a long-term relationship. Virtually every printer I researched from HP, Canon, Epson had a considerable number of very negative reviews, and I knew from reading a leading buying-advice magazine that many inkjet printers use a LOT of ink simply for "maintenance." Brother printers seem to do better in this regard. Also, it's my understanding that using generic ink cartridges in a Brother printer won't lead the ink-police to your virtual door (HP users, and probably users of other brands as well, know what I'm talking about here).
A few observations so far:
1. Set-up for wireless (Windows 7) was very easy for me. Did not require help from spouse.
2. The machine strikes me as something I would find in a (small) office; it just has a different feel compared to the HP, Canon inkjets I'm used to. The LCD display is perfectly usable, it's just not as slick (graphics-wise) as you might find on a consumer Epson.
3. The 870DW has text quality (on plain, no-frills paper) that might not be at the same level of quality that I'm used to from Canon and HP. [A leading magazine rated the J625DW, which is the closest model I could find to the 870DW, as having text quality and graphics quality that's just middle of the road; photo quality that's just one level below the best rating. At a glance, it looks like all of the Brother all-in-ones that were rated came in just so-so in text & graphics quality.]
4. I don't think this bothers me. If this printer will conserve ink and print reliably for years to come, what do I care if the text looks a bit jagged-y? Also, if Brother treats its customers well (as I see in others' reviews), I am willing to trade a bit of print quality.
5. A black & white copy seems to work just fine, with a speed that seems good. I can't find anything to complain about. Might there be all-in-ones that do a better job with copying, especially if you have a demanding situation and you really know what to look for? Sure, that's possible, but as with text print quality, I don't think this is going to bother me.
6. Scanning. I scanned a color document and examined the resulting file quite carefully. I couldn't find anything to complain about. I imagine the scanning capabilities will meet my needs just fine.
7. Ink usage. Using the "sample" cartridges that came with the printer -- after printing 6 or so 4x6 photos and a few dozen pages of text, the ink meter (which may or may not be accurate -- it's hard to know on these things) shows I've just barely made a dent in ink levels. In other words, I feel we're off to a great start in this regard.
I am surprised to be enamored with a printer that probably doesn't print text as crisply as the $80 HP I can pick up at a big-box store. Then again, the current inkjet marketplace seems to back the consumer in a corner. As such, I'm happy to make a few minor trade-offs for the sake of a workhorse unit that won't bleed my wallet dry when it comes to ink.
on October 13, 2014
Would give it ZERO stars if I could. This is our second Brother MFC printer that has just stopped working after a couple months of not being used.
Brand new ink cartridges have been installed, head cleanings have been performed, now I have ANOTHER $90 paperweight.
Thank you Brother, for taking my money (twice now!) and making a fool out of me.
Spoke with Brother... apparently there is something called a "deep purge" cleaning of the printer head. It is only accessible through a special maintenance procedure that they can email you. It requires a set of entirely new ink cartridges to perform this deep cleaning, which they will mail you for free should your printer not respond to any other troubleshooting.
Just completed the "deep purge" process and it used more than half of the ink all the brand new cartridges. BUT... ta dah! The test page printed PERFECTLY.
Still a huge pain in the ass if you ask me. It's 2014 for god's sake, a printer shouldn't need a "deep purging" every couple months just to keep it working.
IF you decide to buy, keep in mind that you'll have to go through the painful process of calling Brother tech support, and going through all the troubleshooting, just to get another set of cartridges sent to you. EVERY COUPLE MONTHS!!! Unacceptable if you ask me.
on August 1, 2013
This printer is my third Brother ink jet printer. I also have had their fax and laser printers and always got value for my money. This unit is fairly easy to install contrary to other reviews. I have 2 iphones, 3 ipads and 3 Windows 7 and 8 pcs hooked up now. The wireless setup is straight forward and if you download the brother iscan&print from the Apple AppStore you'll find the apple devices locate the printer more easily than the Windows PCs.
This unit prints duplex, meets energy star requirements and is VERY quiet and quick to wake from sleep mode.
I use the full Paperport Scan Program and all works well. It's an old version from my original Brother MFC printer and still works, although faster with the CC4 software.
The price difference for Brother ink vs HP is quite significant.
For what they charge for these devices you can't go wrong...
on September 14, 2013
After 30 years of printers, this is the best I have owned. Previous have been HP and Panasonic. Ink cost finally did become a factor with the HP printers. This printer spools faster than HP and the touch screen is a plus. The ink is loaded in the front so the shelf above it was not a factor. I would give this 5 stars except that 1.) the paper tray must be removed to load it and 2.) ink cartridges are not as readily available as HP and easy to mistake the correct cartridges. Even Amazon has identified the wrong stock number. The correct cartridge # is LC101 (standard cartridge) or LC103 (high yield cartridge)
I strongly recommend this printer