Top critical review
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Great printer let down by software
on January 28, 2013
The brother MFP-J4510DW is a bit of a mouthful but it looks good on the desk, takes up less space and is easy to clean and dust.
Photo printing is amazing. Document printing is ok and very fast in normal mode. For documents where you need laser like quality you need to put it in 'best' mode and the text is very crisp although it is quite a bit slower. It is however way better than my previous HP where in best mode the inks would run slightly.
The feature of being able to print A3 is a great boon for my work when I occasionally need to print out plans. Envelope printing, from the paper tray, is also cleverly designed. The scanner is nice and fast but only does single sided, with no software option to create double-sided manually, which leads me onto the printer's greatest weakness, the bundled software and human interface
The ControlCentre software looks ok. You can scan an image or you can scan to a text file (with no formatting). What you can't do is scan to a searchable image file, TIFF or PDF , which is really a must for anybody who wants to use a scanner for electronic document storage. Also, I found that the OCR didn't work for me, just producing a .txt file of garbage. The other annoying thing is that a document with text is not automatically rotated to be the right way up.
The Nuance software is enormous, taking 200 MB on the disk, but looks like it was written for Vista and hasn't been updated since. Also, as well as not really reading text it also makes the CPU run high and is impossible to turn off without uninstalling it. It seems that if you want a working OCR application written more recently you have to fork out on something like Abbyy which is great software but effectively doubles the price of the printer.
The software installed easily on Windows 7 but I was a little disappointed that I had to use a DVD at all. If companies like Logitech can get Windows to install everything they need from the web, why can't Brother? Also, on Windows 8 the installation disk didn't work, despite the new OS having been out in preview form for ages, and required the use of Google to find the right drivers from the Brother website. Fail.
If you have a PC the touch interface really doesn't add any value, even though it is very slick, because it is still less convenient than controlling the printer direct from a PC. Also, the one thing that might be useful direct from the printer is to scan directly to a file. However, scan to file doesn't do this, despite its name. Instead it scans to the PC and then asks you what application you want to use to open this file, with no option to remember this choice in future. Only then does it save the scan to a file. But if you've got to use the PC interface each time to complete the operation, you might as well have started from there. There is also a scan to network location which sounds like what I might need but when you click on it, it says you must set this up using the web based management on my computer, but I can't find where. There is the ability to setup direct scanning to things like Google Drive and Flikr but I can't see why anybody would want to do this unless you don't have a PC. And again, you need a PC to use this feature as it accesses these services via a temporary code so you need to set it up each time you use it.
I find myself still using the Windows Fax and Scan application. The fact that the Brother software is little more functional than this and less easy to use says a lot about how Brother have failed here. This is not to say that they are much worse than the rest of the industry that all seems to fall into the same trap: doing a bad job of replicating functionality that is already in Windows whilst neglecting the core functionality of drivers or offering genuinely useful extras such as working OCR. I would say that Brother is slightly worse than HP on this score but still not by enough to make an HP printer a choice over this one because of how great the Brother hardware is.