IT Pro Verdict
Slow high-res printing
Brother's X-Series MFC-J6957DW is the company's flagship large-format inkjet MFP and offers busy workgroups a sizeable range of print, copy, scan and fax features for a very modest outlay.
It has an impressive capacity, with three 250-sheet A3-sized cassettes plus a 100-page A3 multi-purpose tray (MPT) and tops these off with an A3 colour flatbed scanner partnered by a 50-page duplex automatic document feeder (ADF).
Speeds for A4 printing have been improved, boosting the 22ppm of the MFC-J6947DW to 30ppm, and its daily duty cycle gets a 75% increase to 3,500 pages. It's well connected, too; it can be hooked up over USB, 10/100 Ethernet or 802.11a/n 5GHz wireless, and there's built-in support for NFC, Wi-Fi Direct, AirPrint and a heap of cloud services.
Another winning attribute is its laser-beating running costs. Brother supplies the MFC-J6957DW with a full set of standard ink cartridges, although during installation it has to prime its ink reservoirs so the first set will have a reduced print capacity. Once they've dried up, move to the high-yield versions and you'll only be paying 1p for a mono A4 page and 4.5p for a colour one – plus you can enable Brother's Secure Function Lock feature to control colour usage for each user.
While the reservoirs are filling, you can download Brother's generic setup utility, choose your model and leave it to load the drivers and firmware update tool. It also installs Brother's iPrint&Scan Windows desktop utility, which uses workflows for one-tap print and scan operations, and you can add the free Nuance PaperPort 14 SE document management software.
Brother's Secure Cloud Print portal lets you remotely print PDFs, images and Office documents using a browser. To do this, you simply bookmark the URL displayed in the colour touchscreen, choose a file, send it and release it within 24 hours at the printer using the six-digit PIN generated by the portal.
Remote printing features include Brother's Email Print service. After enabling this from the MFP's web console, it creates a unique address to which you can email attachments from anywhere. Mobile workers get in on the act too, with Brother's Mobile Connect iOS and Android apps providing scan-to-mobile devices plus remote print services.
Scan features are equally versatile and include sending scans to PCs with Brother's software installed, network shares, email, FTP or SharePoint servers, as well as direct-to-email addresses registered at the touchscreen. Cloud destinations are simple to set up using Brother's Web Connect portal. You can choose OneNote, OneDrive, Box, Google Drive, Evernote or Dropbox, add your account details, enter the unique 11-digit code provided at the printer's touchscreen and PIN-protect each account.
We found the top speed is achievable only for mono printing using the driver's Normal setting and drops substantially when higher resolutions are selected. Our 30-page test Word document returned 30ppm in Normal mode but only 2.1ppm in Best mode, while our challenging 24-page colour DTP test print was delivered at 20ppm and 1.8ppm respectively.
That said, print quality in Normal mode is fine for general office use. Text is sharp and clean at 12pt font sizes, while mono photos reveal plenty of detail in darker areas. Colour output quality is also impressive: the smooth transitions across complex colour fades in our test charts translated into high-quality reports and detailed photos, with no banding evident in large single-colour blocks.
The printer handles A3 poster printing exceedingly well. Using the rear MPT tray, our A3 colour poster took only ten seconds in Normal mode on 80gsm paper and 62 seconds in Best mode on 220gsm heavyweight card, with the rich colour quality of Brother's ink making them vibrant and eye-catching.
Print speeds are variable, but Brother's MFC-J6957DW makes up for this with an astonishing range of features. Ideally suited to SMBs on a tight budget, this affordable large-format inkjet delivers low running costs, good output quality and the best cloud and mobile support.
Brother X-Series MFC-J6957DW Specifications
|4,800 x 1,200dpi A3 inkjet MFP
|30ppm A4 mono
|8.8cm colour touchscreen
|USB 2 10/100 802.11a/n Wi-Fi NFC
|3 x 250-page A3 input trays
|576 x 477 x 445mm (WDH)
|Warranty 1yr warranty
|Row 9 - Cell 1
Dave is an IT consultant and freelance journalist specialising in hands-on reviews of computer networking products covering all market sectors from small businesses to enterprises. Founder of Binary Testing Ltd – the UK’s premier independent network testing laboratory - Dave has over 45 years of experience in the IT industry.
Dave has produced many thousands of in-depth business networking product reviews from his lab which have been reproduced globally. Writing for ITPro and its sister title, PC Pro, he covers all areas of business IT infrastructure, including servers, storage, network security, data protection, cloud, infrastructure and services.