The MFC-J5720DW is the largest in the new Brother series of Brother inkjet multifunction printers and offers a wide range of features at an incredible price. It offers high color and monochrome speeds, operating costs in excess of lasers, wired or wireless operation and automatic duplexing. See also: What are the best inkjet printers for professional photography?
The 250-sheet dual bottom trays are paired with a multi-purpose back tray, and all three can handle A3 paper. Brother has also improved the quality of construction – the trays are stronger than the manual feed holders I criticized in MFC-J4710DW .
Forget about any preconceptions you might have that inkjet printers are more expensive than lasers – as long as you opt for XL ink cartridges, the monochrome and color pages run at 0.8p and 3.8p per page. The printer comes with standard cartridges, but it has no advantage to buy more with this capacity, as they increase the cost of the page to 2.3p and 7.3p.
The printer’s color touch screen is easy to use, with thick icons for displaying scan, copy, and fax operations. It also offers quick access to a variety of cloud features, with options for Box, Google Drive, Evernote, Dropbox, Facebook, Picasa, Flickr, OneNote and OneDrive.
Setting up access is very simple: select Google Drive, enter the unique registration code provided by the Brother cloud portal, and activate PIN-protected access. We upload images from the scanner and a USB stick to our account, browse our cloud folders and select files to print or save to USB. Easy.
The Brother web user interface provides easy access to other printer features, such as monitoring supplies and creating a 100-entry fax address book. With LDAP enabled, we were able to browse a list of Active Directory users in the printer and send them emails and faxes.
I created scan profiles for FTP servers and network shares and used the Windows Control Center 4 utility to access the desktop copy, scan, OCR, and fax features. Scan operations can also be directly linked to local applications, such as email.
Wired and wireless modes are configured from the web interface, but keep in mind that both cannot be active at the same time. While NFC is not supported, Apple AirPrint worked well with our iPad, and Brother’s iPrint & Scan smart mobile app allowed us to print directly from our photo album and any cloud-recorded service.
Unfortunately, we were unable to match the Brother’s print speed of 27 ppm in our tests. Our 27-page Word document was delivered at 21 ppm using the driver’s Fast mode, 15.5 ppm in Normal mode and 1.7 ppm in Best mode. Likewise, 24-page color DTP printing returned only 1.4ppm in Best mode, while a high-resolution A3 poster was shot in about six minutes. Duplex printing is also delayed: a 24-page Word document printed at a noisy 6ppm.
The scanner produces excellent results, but its ADF is noisy and slow, with a ten-page copy in Normal mode, returning to monochrome and color speeds of 11 ppm and 8.5 ppm.
The output quality varied significantly between different paper weights. I found that the Fast and Normal modes on cheap 90 g / sqm paper were good enough only for sketch copies, because the text was a bit blurry. Paper heavier than 100gsm produced clearer text, and while the graphics and color photos were more detailed, they were still pale and contrastless. Glossy photo paper produced much superior detail and vivid colors, but bleeding was evident along the edges, and the printheads left unsightly marks on the surface.
The MFC-J5720DW has a pretty big beat when it comes to in-game value, but its average print quality and slow speed compromise its scores. However, it wins because of the flexibility of the paper, with A3 support in all three main paper sources. In addition, its cloud features are among the best here, and printing costs are laudably low.