The X Series are Brothers premium inkjet printers for small businesses (opens in new tab) focused on the office and the Brother MFC-J6957DW (opens in new tab) is his flagship. It’s the highest-spec business inkjet we’ve used and certainly the fastest. With a print speed of 30ppm, it is faster than many laser printers that normally fill the role in a busy office that this inkjet was designed for.
There are several things that an inkjet like this can do better. For starters, it can not only print on A3/tabloid paper, but also copy on that size. A laser that can do this would have to be much larger and obviously wouldn’t be able to print on coated photo paper.
This top-of-the-line four-in-one has room for every function you can imagine. There are three separate paper trays with space for 750 sheets of paper and the option to upgrade. There’s an automatic document feeder, a large touchscreen interface, NFC for secure print jobs and a fax (opens in new tab) facility. The downside to inkjets, of course, is the cost of their cartridges, which always have a lower capacity than toner cartridges, but even this distinction is blurred by the unusually large inkjet carts used here.
With a claimed yield of 6,000 mono and 5,000 color prints, Brother’s high-capacity cartridges are more economical than many laser printers. At around £670 (about US$810, AU$1,189) it costs about the same as a comparable laser, so let’s find out which one is best.
Design and build
Weighing in at 31kg, this desktop unit is a two-person lift, but for a multifunction printer that can copy A3 paper, it’s actually quite compact. A3 laser printers are usually freestanding units because the technology takes up more space. The Brother MFC-J6957DW tapers a bit from the waist down, so its footprint isn’t much more than that of an average A4 printer. However, when you put A3 paper in the trays, you need to extend them so that they stick out quite a few inches. In reality, it will probably never look as neat as it does in the store.
It feels well constructed with sturdy covers and drawers and good cable management for your Ethernet and USB connections that plug into ports in the device where they can’t be accidentally pulled out. The tilting control panel gives easy access to the large touchscreen, while the NFC panel and USB host port are conveniently placed next to it. A3 printers (opens in new tab) never look appealing, but clearly thought has gone into the design of this model.
Features and Specifications
As a top-of-the-line model, the Brother MFC-J6957DW comes with all the features and some impressive specs. It prints even faster than the old MFC-J6947DW (opens in new tab) it replaces and can hold 750 sheets of paper in the three paper trays plus another 100 in the rear multi-purpose tray.
Type: 4-in-1 Color A3 Inkjet Printer
Functions: print, scan, copy and fax
Connectivity: Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, USB, NFC
Data Storage Slots: USB Host Port
Print speed: 30 ipm (black and white)
Paper capacity: 750 + 100 sheets
Print quality: 1,200 x 4,800 dpi
Scan quality: 1,200 x 2,400 dpi
Apple AirPrint: yes
Consumables included: 4x cartridges (2,250 black and white, 975 color pages)
Dimensions/Weight: 576 x 477 x 445 mm (WxDxH)/31kg
The ADF (automatic document feeder) can hold an additional 50 sheets and these can all be A3 size. The scanner bed is also tabloid-sized and capable of producing high-resolution copies. If you use the ADF on the top, you can automatically copy both sides of the page thanks to the dual scan function.
Wi-Fi is of course built in and you have compatibility with AirPrint and all other wireless protocols. Bother’s companion app for iOS/Android makes it particularly convenient to print and scan when away from the printer. It also has an NFC module that allows you to perform sensitive printing tasks with your smartphone, which is always a popular feature in a shared office.
Cartridge-based inkjet printers are considered outdated in light of alternatives to refillable ink tanks, and rightly so, but Brother has come up with unusually large cartridges as a compromise of sorts. With their higher capacity, they carry enough ink to fill small reservoirs in the printer and can print up to 6,000 black and 5,000 color pages. However, as you can see from the photos, the included cartridges hold a lot less – enough for 2,250 black-and-white and 975 color pages.
Installation and operation
Getting started with your Brother MFC-J6957DW is made easy with the large 8.8cm color touchscreen interface. Just turn it on and the on-screen prompts will help you connect to your wireless network and tell you when to load the ink cartridges. That overhanging panel labeled Innobella (the type of ink used) is where the cartridges go. It takes three minutes for the ink to run into the chambers before you are ready to print.
You can run two diagnostic tests to make sure the printer is set up for optimal printing. The first prints a test page so you can visually check the printhead alignment and recalibrate if necessary. The second produces a test page that must be placed on the scanner bed for the printer to check itself. Our review unit passed both tests the first time.
Brother’s companion app, MobileConnect for iOS and Android, adds to the ease of use by giving you a very convenient way to print and scan from the cloud or check your ink level remotely.
When it comes to printing, the first thing you notice about the Brother MFC-J6957DW is its speed. The FPOT (first print time) is given as less than 4.6 seconds, which is even faster than its predecessor and it is confirmed in our speed test. The 30 ipm speed for consecutive monochrome pages is also accurate and while that’s not as fast as some laser printers, it comes close and is the fastest inkjet on our test bench. However, that top speed is only achieved in draft mode, which makes the prints paler. In the automatic duplex mode, the print speed drops again.
Print quality is very good in standard mode, although laser printers can usually handle a finer finish on plain pages of text. The Brother applies its pigment black ink well, just not as clear and consistent as toner. When it comes to color documents, the opposite is true. Brother’s Innobella ink delivers bright, absorbable shadows that don’t suffer from streaks like most laser printers.
It also does a pretty good job with photos, especially those printed on glossy photo paper on larger paper sizes. With an improved print resolution of 1,200 x 4,800 dpi, our high-resolution photos looked particularly impressive as A3 prints. This isn’t a dedicated photo printer, though, and the somewhat muted colors don’t achieve the finish you’d expect from a photographic printing service.
With nearly as high scan resolution, the Brother MFC-J6957DW works great as a copier (opens in new tab)† We found the digital copy looked a little softer each time, but that’s to be expected. What this printer also does, many others don’t, is to automatically copy both sides of the page and resize the duplicate up to 400% in 1% increments.
This high-quality four-in-one has all the credentials to fulfill a demanding role in a busy office. Usually we recommend a laser where speed, capacity and efficiency are crucial, but this inkjet has all that and more. It prints quickly and reliably on a wider variety of media than a laser printer. It is fully compatible with A3/tabloid paper and thanks to the high capacity cartridges you can expect a page yield that is as good as the average laser. It seems like a fair price for so much functionality and the all-important print quality is impressive too.
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