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Brother MFC-J6935DW

Introduction, Design Features

It wasn’t all that long ago that wide-format inkjet printers (models that handle paper larger than legal-size, or 8.5×14 inches) were not only rare, but also rather expensive. Even today, most of the major printer manufacturers—HP, Epson, Canon—offer only a few wide-format machines. But Brother has changed all that, offering most of its Business Smart and Business Smart Plus all-in-one (print/copy/scan/fax) models as tabloid-size-capable (11×17-inch) machines. Nowadays, you can choose from more than a handful of wide-format inkjet models, among them the Brother MFC-J5930DWHP Officejet Pro 7740 All-in-One, the difference between these two Brother models is that the MFC-J6935DW (like the Officejet model) not only prints tabloid-size pages, but can also scan, copy, and fax them. The MFC-J5930DW, on the other hand, can only print wide-format documents.

It stands to reason that some small and medium-size offices that need to print tabloid-size documents will need to process them in other ways, too. If your day-to-day work calls for scanning, copying, or faxing wide-format pages, the $50 upgrade from the MFC-J5930DW to the MFC-J6935DW is a bargain.

What really makes these Brother Business Smart Plus AIOs attractive is that, compared to their Officejet competitor (as well as Epson’s WorkForce WF-7620 All-in-One, a two-paper-drawer version of the WorkForce WF-7610 we reviewed a while back), the Brother AIOs are part of that company’s INKvestment line. INKvestment printers, similar in broad concept to Epson’s EcoTank and Canon’s MegaTank (in that you pay more up front for cheaper ink later), deliver low-per page costs, although Brother’s approach is somewhat different. Where EcoTank and MegaTank printers are “bulk-ink” models that take their ink from reservoirs you fill from bottles, INKvestment printers deploy ink cartridges with high yields and modest prices (on a per-page basis, that is). 

To our knowledge, aside from Brother’s INKvestment products, the only other wide-format printer designed around this pay-more-now-to-pay-less-later concept is Epson’s $999-list WorkForce ET-16500 EcoTank Wide Format All-in-One Supertank. The advantage that the WorkForce ET-16500 holds over the Brother MFC-J6935DW is that the former prints wide-format pages up to 13×19 inches, and it has significantly lower running costs. But it’s also much slower. (We’ll look more closely at the difference in running costs between these two printers in the Cost Per Page section coming up.)

In any case, like the MFC-J5930DW, the MFC-J6935DW is an excellent multifunction business machine. It’s reasonably fast, loaded with features, prints well, and costs much less to use than its most direct competitors. As you read on, assuming you need the big inputs and outpus, you’ll see that there’s just not much to quibble about in this wide-format winner.

Design Features

To print, copy, and scan wide-format documents, an all-in-one (AIO) must be physically large enough to accommodate oversize media (in this case, tabloid-size). That means a big platen and large paper cartridges. At 22.6 inches across by 18.8 inches from front to back by 14.7 inches high, and weighing 51.8 pounds, the MFC-J6935DW is, as inkjet printers go, a beast of a machine.

Since it scans, copies, and faxes tabloid-size pages, too, not only must its two paper cassettes (discussed in more detail later on) be big enough to accommodate 11×17-inch media, so must the scanner and automatic document feeder (ADF). Hence, the MFC-J6935DW will require a sturdy, roomy shelf or printer stand.

When you are pondering a place to put this hulk, know that the main connectivity options are Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and connecting to a single PC via USB. (With that last direct-connect option, the printer isn’t on the Internet, so using that approach excludes several otherwise available mobile-connectivity options.)

As for the mobile connectivity, the MFC-J6935DW supports Wi-Fi Direct and Near-Field Communication (NFC), both of which are peer-to-peer protocols that allow you to print from smartphones and tablets without a network intervening. The NFC hotspot (where you touch your NFC-compliant mobile device to connect it to the printer) is located to the left of the control panel’s LCD.

Other mobile connectivity options include AirPrint, Google Cloud Print, Brother iPrintScan, Mopria, and a slew of what Brother calls “Brother Cloud Apps.” These include Scan to Office, Office Print, Scan to Searchable PDF, Scan to Mobile, Outline Copy, NoteScan, CreativeCenter, and Fax Forward to Cloud/Email. Suffice it to say that Brother has most mobile-connectivity scenarios covered, although we think that combining its cloud apps under a single comprehensive umbrella program would be more efficient and less confusing.

As mentioned, the ADF can handle documents up to 11×17 inches. Unlike on some other Brother Business Smart Plus AIOs, such as the Brother MFC-J5830DW we reviewed recently, this ADF supports single-pass auto-duplexing for unassisted copying and faxing of two-sided documents. Therefore, when combined with the auto-duplexing print engine, the ADF can copy up to 50 two-sided pages (that is, 100 page sides) while you go fetch a cup of coffee. You can also print from and scan to USB thumb drives via the port located on the left side of the chassis, beside the control panel.

Nowadays, the control panels on Brother’s Business Smart Plus AIOs consist of a 3.7-inch color swipe screen, a handful of buttons, and a number pad, and they tilt upward, as shown in the image below, for easier viewing and operation. In addition to using the control panel for making configuration changes, such as setting security options, you can also access these features from the MFC-J6935DW’s built-in, secure (HTTPS) Web server.

In addition to the secure Web server, shown in the screenshot below, other security features include Secure Function Lock, which allows you to deny certain sub-features (say, making copies) to your users. You might do this to save consumables.

Brother’s Business Smart Plus AIOs also ship with Scansoft PaperPort 14 SE, the venerable document-management program that also does optical character recognition (OCR). For Macs, you get similar functionality through Presto PageManager. The MFC-J6935DW’s maximum monthly duty cycle is 30,000 pages, with a recommended monthly print volume of 2,000 pages.

Setup  Cost Per Page

Unless you encounter some unusual snafu, setting up most printers these days is straightforward, though there’s nothing simple about getting a printer of this size and weight out of its container.

One of the ways printer makers, including Brother, are making this easier is by packing machines inside heavy-duty plastic bags with trash-bag-like handles. Granted, this does make setup somewhat easier, but at some point (and we think that 50 pounds is well past “some point”) you’re going to need help lifting the printer, unless you have Ahnold-like triceps.

Aside from the power-lifting, as with most Brother AIOs, setting up the machine and installing the software was effortless. The entire process, which included a 9-minute initialization routine and printing a calibration page, took less than 30 minutes.

As we said earlier, one of the things that separates the MFC-J6935DW from its competitors is its very competitive cost per page (CPP), especially for a wide-format printer. Brother offers only one size of ink cartridge—though it is relatively high capacity—for these printers. The black ink tank sells on Brother’s site for $29.99 and is rated at 3,000 pages, while the three color cartridges (cyan, magenta, and yellow) are $19.99 apiece, and good for about 1,500 prints, combined with the black ink. Using these prices and Brother’s estimated yields for these cartridges, we calculated the monochrome CPP at just under a penny (0.9 cent, to be exact), and the color figure at 4.9 cents.

These really are exceptionally low running costs for a cartridge-based printer. By comparison, with HP’s Officejet Pro 7740 (using that printer’s highest-yield ink tanks), you get CPPs of 2.1 cents for black-and-white pages and 8.1 cents for color. If, indeed, you do print thousands of pages a month with either of these printers, that 1.2-cent difference between the two will save you big bucks. Say, for instance, that you print 10,000 pages per month. That 1.2-cent difference will save you $120 each month, or $1,440 per year. The Epson WorkForce WF-7610 and WF-7620 mentioned earlier have even higher running costs, at 3.2 cents monochrome and 11.3 cents color.

Again, the only wide-format bulk-ink printer we know of is the WorkForce ET-16500. It delivers much lower running costs (less than a cent per page for both monochrome and color) than any of the machines discussed here. But, as mentioned, it lists for $999.99 and is significantly slower than any of these other wide-format models. At this time, with all things being equal—print speed, print quality, and features—the MFC-J6935DW and its Business Smart Plus siblings provide the lowest operating costs.

Paper Handling

Another advantage of the MFC-J6935DW is that it comes with three paper-input sources. Two of them are 250-sheet paper drawers, and the third is a 100-sheet multipurpose tray that extends outward and upward from the rear of the chassis, for a total of 600 sheets. On this Business Smart Plus AIO, all three of those sources support tabloid-size paper. The HP and Epson AIOs discussed above come with two paper cassettes and no multipurpose tray. The cassettes on this Brother model load through the front…

Printed pages land on a 100-sheet output tray that extends out the front of the chassis, beneath the control panel…

During our tests, in which we printed and copied many hundreds of pages, including a small stack of tabloid-size ones, the MFC-J6935DW performed flawlessly, without any paper jams or other feed mishaps. We also ran pages through the ADF mechanism, including a bunch of 11×17-inch documents, and it, too, performed without a hitch.

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