Brother has been a force in printing for 60 years, long regarded for its practical and no-nonsense machines. While some printer firms are putting all their effort into extracting as much money from you for ink as they possibly can, Brother has come at It the other way with its MFC-J4540DW being a small office and home multifunction unit that simply works and gets on with the job. Bundled in the box is enough ink to last you a year under most circumstances, measured at up to 2,600 black and white pages, and up to 1,900 colour pages.
What's more, it's fast and well-featured. You get two paper trays, automatic duplex printing, a 20 sheet automatic document feeder - great for scanning, printing speeds up to 20 pages per minute, and a host of connectivity options.
Perhaps a fax machine isn't as useful today as it was once, but there's no doubt a scanner is worth its weight in gold for any small business setting. Scan and file documents; print-sign-scan contracts; there is no shortage of uses for a scanner. iTWire certainly found the MFC-J4540DW’s 20-page document feeder saves a lot of pain; stick your single or double-sided stack of documents in the feeder, press scan, and wait for the PDF to land.
The printer uses Brother's newly re-engineered high capacity INKvestment ink cartridges, and iTWire found these simple to install. The printer has two paper trays (for, say, letterhead paper and blank paper) which store 400 pages across both. iTWire found the device easy to open up, to allow us to use the copier, to fill the paper trays, to install the ink, and to expose the internals in the case of printer jams. Fortunately, in iTWire’s testing, we did not experience any jam but are confident we could get inside the machine sufficiently to remove the paper from the rollers if it were to happen. As great as modern electronics are, printers are still one of the most mechanical devices in the office and being able to easily and intuitively figure out how to recover when something goes wrong is a huge plus in a device.
While iTWire didn't test the fax - not having anybody to fax with - we note the fax line uses a regular PSTN socket and 14,400 baud connection. Nothing surprising or unusual there, and we’d expect it to work fine, with the caveat Australia has mostly removed all copper-based voice telephony so you’ll need to run the fax through your NBN gateway or some other analogue-to-digital adapter depending on your phone lines.
However, printing, scanning, and copying we certainly did test and found the device easy to connect to - supporting WiFi, USB, Ethernet, NFC, AirPrint, and more. We found it effortless to install under Windows and macOS, being auto-detected by the operating system no matter whether we used ethernet, Wi-Fi, or direct USB connection.
The machine measures 435 x 372 x 250mm and can fit into some small nooks if your office fit out requires it. This iTWire writer has experienced the challenges of equipping dental centres with a range of office machinery where reception and manager office space was constrained, and the Brother MFC J4540DW would fit well there. This said you will want space for the machine to breathe, as well as to lift the copier/scanner lid.
There's more; obviously, it prints, scans, and copies as you'd want it to - but Brother has squeezed in extra functionality where it can. For example, you can reduce or enlarge your copies from 25% to 400% of the original. You can create up to 99 copies of an original document with the unit automatically stacking and sorting the output. It will output onto A4 paper, of course, but also letter, A5, A6, photo paper, index cards, C5 envelopes, and other sizes. It handles both plain and glossy paper as input, it can conserve paper by distilling your print jobs into a smaller number of pages at up to 16x pages on one page, it can print to booklets, and more.
It handles SMTP-AUTH, SSL/TLS, SNMP v3, and other IPv4 and IPv6 protocols. It also supports both LDAP and Active Directory authentication. This isn’t something you ordinarily expect to see in a small office printer but makes security and setup simpler for administrators.
There really is a lot to like; it handles borderless printing so you can get your full-colour prints right across the page at up to 1,200 x 4,800 dots per inch (DPI). It includes a two-year back-to-base warranty. It has 128MB of internal memory and is operated via a 6.8 cm colour touchscreen, via web access, or via free Windows/macOS/iOS/Android Brother software. You can print from, or scan to, your local machine, email, Dropbox and other cloud services, your phone, and more.
Ultimately, Brother has put together a superbly versatile, flexible, simple-to-use colour, black-and-white, multifunction device that offers all you need to print, scan, copy, and fax - while including extra features to give you even more utility. It includes robust and hard-wearing materials and lifelong technical support.
It is available from Officeworks for $329.