Brother Business Smart MFP: Big Features, Small Package

by Aaron Weiss

Brother's new Business Smart Series All-in-One inkjet printer features an innovative blend of form and function. It's definitely different. But does that make it better?

The universe of multifunction printers – sometimes called MFP, sometimes called AIO (all-in-ones) – is a conservative market at best. The major advances have been about increasing the use of Wi-Fi and Internet access to extend the printer’s reach beyond the office walls. You don’t see much design change in the printer world from year to year.

Brother built its Business Smart Series All-in-One small business printers to buck this trend. This multifunction color inkjet stands out from the pack with innovative design and office-friendly features at a modest price. In this review, we put the Business Smart model MFC-J4510DW ($199) to the test.

With the J4510 small business printer, Brother has seemingly embraced a different way of thinking about multifunction printers. But is different necessarily better?

Multifunction Form and Function

One look tells you that Brother has taken a – dare we say Apple-esque – cue in designing the J4510. The 20 pound multifunction printer's footprint is barely larger than an 11 x 17 sheet of paper. Its rounded corners and sculptural one-piece body look from above like a 7-inch thick iPhone.

Brother's Business Smart Series All-in-One inkjet printer

Figure 1: The Business Smart Series All-in-One inkjet printer combines printing, copying, scanning and faxing into an innovative, compact and stylish design.

Like a gadget produced by "Q" in a James Bond film, all of this printer's appendages – such as document feeder, output tray, and port access – collapse using foldable joints so you can tuck them tuck away in hidden compartments.

The most radical design element that influences both the J4510's form and function is its landscape orientation. The paper tray is oriented in landscape mode, and even the print heads and the feed mechanism are all engineered to process pages in landscape orientation, even when printing portrait output.

In other words, this machine prints sideways. It's a clever touch, shaving space off the unit's footprint, and allegedly improving print speed.

Consistent with the smartphone-inspired theme, the controls on the J4510 occupy a 3.7-inch color LCD touch screen display. Large colorful icons and detailed status messages are a big improvement from obtuse printer interfaces with mysterious controls. You can swipe to scroll, and you can even arrange icons for oft-used functions with saved settings into a shortcut area for fast access. When using specific modes like copy or fax, the display illuminates only those options relevant to the task at hand – another nice touch to help reduce "MFP confusion."

You can connect the J4510 to your network via Ethernet or wireless. Setup is a snap thanks to detailed display. And you'll also find, hidden behind a front panel, slots for USB flash drives or Memory Stick and SD cards common to cameras and phones.

Printing and Scanning

Although the J4510 looks like it's one piece, the top portion actually lifts to reveal a scanner bed. The lid itself contains – within another hidden slot – a built-in automatic document feeder (ADF) that holds up to 20 pages.

The 2,400 dpi (on glass)/1,200 dpi (ADF) scanner can send output to a variety of destinations. You can make copies directly to the printer and shrink or zoom them in the process, and you can save scans directly to memory media or across the network to an email address, shared folder, or a Web app (more on that shortly). You can also use the Brother "iPrint & Scan" app for mobile devices to initiate a scan and receive the resulting document directly on your smartphone or tablet.

Brother claims that the landscape orientation of the J4510 helps to increase print speeds. The printer is rated to a maximum of 35ppm in fast black mode. In our tests, we printed a 35-page text-heavy document in fast black mode and got a rate of about 22 ppm. Still, this is no slouch for an inkjet. The pages fire out at a rapid pace.

Duplexing and Consumables

The Brother MFC-J4510DW includes built-in automatic duplexing, a rare treat for a color inkjet multifunction printer at this price point. You can print on both sides of a document without any manual intervention and without a bulky duplexer hanging off the unit. Duplexing works well and obviously saves paper, but it won't save you time. The added delays for the printer to manipulate the pages through its duplexer slowed our test document output to 7ppm.

Unlike some lower cost MFPs, the J4510 actually prints a legible "fast mode." You can save ink and time without sacrificing too much print quality. That said, the "normal mode" print quality is excellent – the 1,200 x 600 dpi output is sharp and dense.

With three color cartridges – cyan, magenta and yellow – the small business multifunction printer produces rich text color and acceptable photos with borderless capability. Although you will find six- and seven-color inkjets on the market that are better suited to dedicated glossy photo prints, the J4510 is designed as a business-oriented machine.

Brother sells the ink cartridges in two sizes, a 600 page "high capacity" cartridge and a 1,200 page "super-high capacity" cartridge. Like most every other printer manufacturer, Brother ships the J4510 with the entry level cartridges. However, using the super-high capacity cartridges you can expect consumable costs to average about 2.7 cents per page for black-and-white and 7.2 centers per page for color.

Print, Copy and Scan into the Cloud

Along with its futuristic design, the J4510 comes equipped with software worthy of our permanently networked world. First, you can send jobs to the J4510 from both near and far. The multifunction printer includes printer drivers for Windows and Mac, and the Brother mobile app lets you send documents and photos from your mobile device directly to the printer. Furthermore, you can also use Google Cloud Print to send jobs to the unit from anywhere on the Internet.

The printer also comes loaded with apps to interact with several cloud services including Facebook, Picasa, Flickr, Evernote and Dropbox. Once you've configured the machine to access any of these, you can use the touchscreen to navigate your cloud account, for example to choose a document or photo to print.

Conversely, you can save scans from the flatbed or ADF directly to any of these cloud services, instantly making them available worldwide.

Unlike HP's implementation of printer apps, there are no additional third-party apps to choose from, so you're limited to the apps Brother provides.

The Business Smart Series All-in-One Family Line

The J4510 is one of three MFP models in the new Brother Business Smart Series. Sharing the same lineage are the J4410 ($179 MSRP, with slower print speed and smaller display) and the J4610 ($199 MSRP, smaller display plus second paper tray for 400 sheet capacity).

Between the sleek design and a bevy of advanced features, Brother has packed a lot into this budget-priced, small business MFP. The $199 price tag buys a lot with the, but it should be said that J4510 is not a tank.

You can't expect this lightweight printer to push out a duty cycle of 50K pages per month. Brother doesn't publish an official duty cycle, but it's clear that as a printer, this machine is designed for – at most – a small or home office.

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This article was originally published on Monday Nov 26th 2012
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