MFP Review: Big Printer Features for Small Business

by Ted Needleman

Brother's MFC-J6925dw multifunction printer handles pages up to 11 x 17 inches, and over-sized ink cartridges help reduce overall cost. See what else this workhorse MFP offers small business.

You won’t find any hard and fast rules, but generally a business multifunction printer (MFP) possesses certain characteristics that differ from a machine designed for use at home. They're also designed to withstand heavy use over time. These include print speed, duty cycle (the recommended volume of printing that you perform in a month), and ink or toner cartridge capacity.

In most cases, businesses print considerably more pages in a given period of time than average consumer printers do, and business people don't want to stand around waiting for them or waste time frequently changing ink or toner or refilling paper trays. Brother designed its entire printer and MFP lineup with small businesses in mind, and their business-oriented capabilities generally fare well under scrutiny.

Finally, when discussing the capabilities of an MFP, a consumer model generally offers three functions—print, copy, and scan—while a business model such as Brother's MFC-J6925dw (MSRP: $349.99) often adds a forth function, fax. 

Brother's Out-of Box-Experience

Physically, the MFC-J6925dw is a large MFP that measures 21.8 x 17.0 x 12.2-inches and weighs in at a rather hefty 36.4 pounds. You won't need a partner to unbox the unit or set it up, but it requires a fair amount of desk space. The MFP is actually larger in length and width at the top near the scanner and ADF than its footprint on your desk, which at 19 x 13.5 inches, is still a considerable amount of real estate.

Brother MFC-J925dw Multifunction Small Business Printer

The Brother MFC-J925dw Multifunction Printer for small business.

The reason for the size is that the MFP can print and scan pages up to 11 x 17 inches—generally labeled tabloid, or in European terminology, A3 size. The ability to print to this size paper lets you generate large spreadsheets or create four-page letter-size booklets by simply folding the 11 x 17-inch sheet in half.

In addition to the printer, the box includes a CD containing the software for Windows and Max OS, a Quick Setup Guide, a comprehensive 208-page user guide, and a telephone cord to hook up the fax. Brother's software suite includes a copy of Nuance's PaperPort 12SE document manager, which provides Windows users with a way to manage documents as well as scan them into PDF files. Mac users get a similar program called Presto PageManager. We noted that the included version of PaperPort (12 SE), is two revisions behind the current product, PaperPort 14.

You also get four ink cartridges in the box. Brother calls these INKvestment Series cartridges, as they have a higher page-print capacity than many printers from other vendors (as well as from Brother itself on other older models). The LC10EC, LC10EM, and LC10EY (Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow) cartridges each yield about 1,200 pages and cost about $15 each.

The LC10EB Black cartridge yields about 2,400 pages and costs $24, which provides an attractive cost per page. Brother claims a black page costs less than a penny to print, and printing a color page costs less than a nickel. We don't test yield, but vendors use a standard test protocol to determine yield, and are usually pretty honest about these figures.

Printer Set Up: Quick and Easy

Setting up the MFC-J6925dw is easy. After plugging in the power cord (which is not detachable) and powering on the device, you insert the ink cartridges through a swing-away door on the right-front of the unit. The MFP has two paper drawers, one above the other on the front of the machines, as well as a rear paper input at the back of the MFP that opens up for heavier media.

Each of the paper feeds can handle media from 3.5 to 11-inches wide. Brother's paper trays are a bit unusual. When using letter-size paper, you load it into the tray in landscape mode. Larger media, like tabloid size, requires that you extend the tray and load the paper in portrait orientation.

Each of the front trays accommodates 250 sheets of paper, which gives you a full ream available for a long print or copy job, or you can load different size paper into each of the trays. And each drawer has its own pull-out page output tray. Brother's recommended monthly print volume ranges from 250 to 1,500 printed pages, which strikes us as quite reasonable.

Starting Up Brother's Small Business Printer

When you first power up Brother's MFC-J6925dw and load the ink and paper, the unit primes for a few minutes, and then it prints a page with a nozzle check pattern. Ours came out perfect, but if yours doesn't, you can direct the machine to perform a cleaning operation.

Next, you hook up the MFP to a PC or to a network, and Brother gives you ample ways to do this. You'll find jacks for wired Ethernet, USB 2.0, and the telephone cord for the fax located on a panel that you access by swinging the entire scanner unit up on a rear hinge. Many of Brother's printers have ports in this position rather than on the back panel where the rest of the printer industry places them.

In addition to Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, Apple AirPrint, Google Cloud Print, Mopria, and Brother's own iPrint & Scan, the MFC-J6925dw supports NFC (near field communication) with smartphone or tablets with that feature. With NFC, you can transmit the print job by touching your phone or tablet to the NFC logo which is located on the left-hand side of the tilt-out control panel.

The MFC-J6925dw provides a large 3.7-inch color touchscreen on the control panel, and its features are easy to understand and use. We connected the MFP to our network with WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup), which required us to just select that method of connection and press the WPS button on our NetGear NightHawk access point. The two devices found each other in a few seconds, and made the necessary network connection in about 20 seconds. Once the CD finished installing and configuring the printer drivers, we were ready to start testing.

Brother MFC-J925dw Multifunction small business printer

Brother's MFC-J925dw Multifunction Printer for small business.

Great Scores for Printer Performance and Image Quality

Generally, we test printers in two areas, speed and image quality, and we add scanning when testing a multifunction printer. We test image quality by printing a set of photographic and other test images on the vendor's own photo paper and compare them (by eye) to a set of prints produced on a calibrated nine-color photo printer.

Our speed tests are a subset of several of the tests developed by the ISO (International Standards Organization) and consist of a four-page Microsoft Word document, a four-page Excel spreadsheet, and a four-page PDF document printed with Adobe Reader XI. We print multiple sets and subtract the time it takes to print the first set to determine PPM (pages per minute). This eliminates the time it takes for the job to spool and start printing, which can vary between different computers and versions of the operating system.

We then average several runs for each document, and average achieved speed on the three different document types to get our overall speed results. In most cases, this gives us a figure that's pretty close to the ISO speed the vendor publishes for color printing using the default print driver settings.

The MFC-J6925dw cranked out 20.2 PPM—almost exactly the 20 PPM figure Brother publishes in its specification. We don't bother doing the same test for copy speed, but the MFC-J6925dw was actually fairly fast in making copies, especially single-sided ones. Brother provides a quick-copy option that requires you to place the document being copied in the ADF in landscape mode. This option further speeds the copy process, and it's worth remembering if output speed is more important to you than print quality (which is still pretty good).

Note that our results refer to printing and copying on one side of the paper. The MFC-J6925dw is capable of duplex printing and scanning. With the scanner, you can either place a document on the glass scan platen, or you can use the ADF (automatic document feeder), which folds out of the top of the MFP and has a capacity of 35 sheets.

Output image quality is excellent, with accurate color and skin tones and good saturation. While Brother doesn't promote the MFC-J6925dw for its photo quality, the device does a good job for a four-color printer (most photo printers these days use five or more colors of ink). Using good quality paper, you won't be embarrassed by the quality of images and charts in your reports.

Printing from Other Sources

The MFP also provides a set of ports, covered by a swing-away door on the left side of the control panel, that act as a "Photo Capture Center." It includes a USB port and several ports for flash media cards including SD cards, Memory stick, MultiMedia card, mini and microSD cards. You can print from this flash media and you can also scan to media placed in these slots.

We were also impressed by the MFP's scanning capabilities. The scanner has an optical resolution for 2,400 x 2,400 dpi on the flatbed, and 2,400 x 1,200 when using the ADF. That's good enough for most any use, but it also offers higher resolutions, up to 19,200 x 19,200 dpi through software interpolation. The MFC-J6925dw handles duplex scanning and extensive "scan-to" options including OCR, flash media, a folder on the PC or Mac, or to the cloud. The printer supports 10 different file formats.

While we didn't test the fax, it offers up to 200 pages of paper out memory, and it can fax broadcast to up to 50 locations.

The Bottom Line

You can easily find less expensive four-function MFPs. And if you know you don't want or need the MFC-J6925dw's 11 x 17 print, scan and copy capabilities, you can save yourself some money. But given the MFC-J6925dw's capabilities, speed, and quality, we feel that its estimated street price of $350 is a good value, and most business owners will appreciate the large ink tanks that bring down the cost of printing.

Ted Needleman published his first review in 1978. Since then, he has written several thousand hardware and software reviews, columns, articles on using technology, and two books. He has no intention of stopping any time soon.

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This article was originally published on Tuesday Jun 30th 2015
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