Print. Copy. Scan. Fax. All standard requirements for an all-in-one small home office printer solution. The Brother Business Smart Series printer covers all these functionalities in a Jonathan Ive-y sleek and compact form factor, but also throws in a slew of connectivity and UI features to distinguish itself from the yawn-inducing pack of printers (picking a new printer can feel as exciting as purchasing a new water heater), including an intuitive swipe touch screen and wireless printing options via Google Cloud Print, wi-fi network, or Apple AirPrint...
I have to admit it has been ages since I've used a Brother product...we're talking the late 1990's when I was still writing school reports on a Brother word processor with one-line dot matrix display. I loved that pre-laptop word processing device for its functionality, durability, and at that time, portability.
Fast forward to 2012 and I find myself pleasantly surprised while unboxing the Brother Business Smart Series MFC-J4510DW. The white with black trim industrial design is somehow familiar. At first, I can't quite put my finger upon the resemblance, then I realize I recognize the shape from somewhere beyond the realm of printers...from somewhere with fond memories. Personally, I think this is the most impressive printer industrial design since the minimalist block from Samsung a few years back. And yes, I've named the printer Mo.
Setting up the MFC-J4510DW offered an excellent first impression, putting the responsive 3.7" touchscreen display to good use for walking new users through options and setup. Unlike some other touchscreens haphazardly tacked onto printers as an afterthought, the Brother screen scrolls as quickly and easily as a smartphone (think entry-level Android device, not a Galaxy S3 or iPhone 5), and offers an intuitive navigation and input experience which feels engineered as integral to the whole system. No stutter and delay, and the swipe menu and step-by-step prompting made an instruction manual unnecessary...which I never read anyway.
The MFC-J4510DW handholds users the first time the machine is fired up, using a Setup Wizard, with or without a PC connection (compatible with Windows and OS X). Getting the printer connected to a wi-fi network was painless and quick, and the process concludes with a test sheet to verify printouts are produced at an acceptable quality, punctuating a well scripted setup process.
Once past the startup process, it then becomes a decision of where to place the printer, since its wireless capabilities allow for flexible "out in the open" or "hide it in the closet" options. The compact design fits perfectly upon a shelf in my closet office, a welcome replacement without the need for another USB cable snaking out and around.
Printer speed is fast, normally pushing out 20 pages per minute in black and white and 18 pages per minute in color (up to 11"x17" documents). Additionally, if you're super impatient and need to get pages out ASAP, a "Fast Mode" puts the pedal to the inkjet metal to spit out 35 black and white pages per minute and 27 color pages per minute. Quality is above average, though not surprisingly as crisp as my professional art/photo printer for images (which is a bit of an unfair comparison considering each of their intended use); text output is excellent. There's also a double-sided print out option, but you'll want to use the proper paper stock, unless you want printouts that feel like they've been sitting inside a hot steaming shower.
Source and connectivity options are expansive, compatible with Apple AirPrint (no driver required for OS X/iOS users!), Google Cloud Print, Brother iPrint & Scan, Cortado Workplace and Wi Fi Direct (allowing a user to print wirelessly from PC or mobile devices without the need for a router). Additionally, once setup with a home network, users can use the 3.7" screen to access files via Facebook, Flickr, Evernote, Dropbox, and Picasa.
Upstairs, the MFC-J4510DW is equipped with a 6000 x 1200 dpi scanner; sufficient resolution for scanning single page documents and photos, while a 33.6K bps FAX lets you send important docs if you've still got a phone line (I do not!), rounding out all the requirements of a small office all-in-one device.
With a 35% smaller footprint than comparable all-in-one units, notable industrial design, intuitive touch display, and a complete spec list of features fulfilling the duties of 2-3 office peripherals, the Brother Business Smart Series All-In-One Inkjet Printer is a highly recommended solution where users want all the options at the touch + swipe of a screen. Though the bar for the office printer experience is set pretty low, the MFC-J4510DW exceeds expectations and elevates home office tasks to the ease and fun of using an app on a smartphone...no small leap across the chasm of ho-hum most printers reside in.
Pros: Responsive and intuitive touch 3.7" display, fast and ink-sipping printouts, small footprint ideal for apartment dwellers, 2 year warranty and free technical support for the life of the machine, Apple-ish industrial design.
Cons: Too. Many. Decals! Grenade-style inkjet cartridge caps seem wasteful.
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. This specific product was provided by manufacturer for testing and review purposes.
(Images: Gregory Han; Disney/Pixar)