It promises plenty of technology in a compact format, rapid prints and high quality, as well as a simple usage guarantee. On paper it looks great, in practice let's see what the tests show...
The 8.3 cm colour touch screen gives access to a whole range of activities such as printing, faxing, scanning, A3 (or other format) copying. Whatever mode it's in, it also offers double-sided. For an 18.5 Kg, A3 model, it's a fairly compact machine (54 x 48.9 x 33.1 cm). There's a PictBridge port at the front as well as a media card reader (SD and MS) and two 250 page paper loaders. You can set them up so that, for example, loader 1 holds A3s and loader 2 is for A4s. As with the Brother MFC-J615W, you can access the 4 separated cartridges at the front of the machine, which is practical, simple and effective. It supports Windows® 2000/XP/Vista, Mac® OS X 10.4, 10.5.x, 10.6x.
Speeds: rapid for office documents
As often with Brother, the speeds announced don't correspond to what we get with our test documents. The tech spec claims 35 pages per minute (ppm) for black & whites and 27 colour. We got 14 ppm for black & white and 12 ppm for colour. With double-sided, speeds fall to 5 ppm. Nevertheless it's fast in comparison to the Epson Stylus Photo PX820FWD (5 stars for speeds), which brings us to why we only give it a 3-star rating here... Quite simply because our rating also takes responsiveness (see inset), where the Epson has the advantage, and photo print speeds, far from good on the MFC-J6910DW, into account.
It takes over two minutes to print an A4 photo and over a minute for a 10 x 15 cm format print. Although these speeds are fine, they're twice as long as what we scored the Epson Stylus Photo PX820FWD at (70 seconds for an A4 and 25 seconds for a 10 x 15 cm). Expect it to take four minutes for an A3.
Quality: better with photos
While print quality is more than good enough for regular usage, the results on our test graph are disappointing. The colours are dull and the droplets are visible, which spoils the overall look, particularly the legibility of characters. Certain letters are smudged a bit. We compared the prints with the Epson R3000 which offers better results, with sharper, more contrasted lettering.
Photo print quality is better than office documents and merits a 4-star rating. You get good contrasts and a sharp image. Dominant red tones are visible, particularly on faces and droplets are slightly visible in some areas.
With a resolution of 2400 dpi, we expected better scanning. You lose detail and precision. There's a pretty high colour difference (over 7%) but it's rapid: it'll take you around 10 seconds to scan a page at 300 dpi.
These faults are only too obvious on the graph, but text only documents are fine.
Energy consumption & Noise levels
The printer consumes 3 watts on standby and 15 watts when printing. This is very good for an inkjet. It is also quite quiet at 49 dB(A).
Cost per page: excellent!
The cartridges exist in two formats: standard and high capacity. The cartridges supplied with the machine are the standard ones, which is rare enough to be highlighted (most manufacturers give half-filled standards). When you come to replace them, make sure you go for the XL format cartridges, which, though more expensive, work out to be far more economical in the long run.
The cost per page is lower than any competitor printer with high capacity cartridges: 4.9 pence/page is currently the record. If you only use black & white, they cost just 1 pence, which is extremely low.
ISO lifespan for text XL Cartridges
- Record cost per page: 4.9 pence/page with the XL cartridges
- Colour touch screen / wi-fi
- A3 / Double-sided
- Good office document speeds
- Cartridges easy to access, exist in two formats
- Average quality for office documents
- Scanner and copier quality down on print quality
- The odd paper block
- Slightly dominant reds in photo prints
This A3 wasn't far from a 5-star rating. With plenty of features, it is very well designed and has the lowest cost per page we've seen. While scanner and copier quality isn't that great, photo prints are. A good compromise between cost per page, performance and available features.