IT Pro Verdict
Fabulously cheap running costs
High output quality
Strong access controls
Speeds drop significantly at higher quality
Brother’s X-Series MFC-J6947DW is a multifunction printer that thinks big. It combines large-format printing with an A3 colour flatbed scanner, a duplex automatic document feeder, integrated fax and three A3-sized 250-page trays.
Connection options abound: both Ethernet and 802.11n Wi-Fi are built-in – although you can’t use both together – along with USB 2, Wi-Fi Direct and AirPrint. An NFC reader is ready for tap-to–print manoeuvres, and Brother’s mobile apps extend print and scan functions to a variety of cloud storage providers.
There’s one aspect of the MFC-J6947DW that’s small, however, and that’s the price. At £412, the hardware is eminently affordable and it comes with high-yield ink cartridges, rather than the half-empty starters supplied by certain vendors. Even better, once you have exhausted these, you can replace them with super high-yield versions for costs as low as 0.8p per mono A4 page and 3.5p for colour.
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Although this is a very economical printer, it’s not the fastest around, with quoted print speeds of 22ppm for mono and 20ppm for colour. We found that, in Normal quality mode, our 22-page Word document did indeed appear in exactly one minute – but speeds fell to 5ppm in Fine mode and only 2.3ppm in Best mode. Our 24-page colour DTP test print was delivered at 17ppm in Normal, but again Best mode was far slower at a mere 2ppm.
For everyday office printing, this isn’t a disaster. Normal mode gives perfectly acceptable results on 75gsm paper, producing sharp, clear 12pt text with only a hint of dusting. But quality drops off slightly at smaller sizes, so for maximum readability, you might need to use either Fine or Best mode, or consider switching to heavier paper.
Colour results are excellent. Our test charts exhibited beautifully smooth transitions across complex colour fades, and grey shades were impeccably balanced. Colour photos printed on 100gsm paper had plenty of detail with no banding, while switching to 160gsm semi-gloss paper gave us sharp definition without any edge bleeding. The rich colour quality from Brother’s Innobella ink made our sample A3 posters look vibrant and eye-catching, and these took a very reasonable 23 seconds to emerge in Normal mode – although the wait was a lengthy six minutes in Best mode.
As usual, double-sided operations are slower. Our 22-page Word document emerged at 13ppm in duplex mode, while a ten-page copy job completed at 13ppm single-sided and 5ppm in duplex-to-duplex modes.
The printer comes with all the software you’re likely to need, including Brother’s ControlCenter4 scan management and OCR utility, the iPrint&Scan workflow app for Windows and Nuance’s PaperPort 14 SE document management tool. A free iPrint&Scan app is also available for Android and iOS: we tried this out on our iPad and had no problem pulling in scans over the network, browsing our cloud storage accounts and printing selected files.
Access controls are taken care of by Brother’s Secure Function Lock 3 feature. You can create up to 100 function profiles, set page limits for individual users and restrict access to colour, scan, copy and fax functions. You can also decide who’s allowed to access Brother’s Secure Cloud Print portal, which allows users to print PDFs, images and Office documents directly from a browser. Touchscreen operations, meanwhile, include scanning to email and PIN-protected access to Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, OneNote, Evernote and Box accounts for cloud printing and scanning.
If your top priority is speed, the Brother MFC-J6947DW is certainly not the ideal choice, but for small businesses on a budget it’s a superb MFP. It offers a wealth of features with good colour quality at a great price – and the running costs are hard to beat.
Brother X-Series MFC-J6947DW specifications
|4,800 x 1,200dpi A3 inkjet MFP
|9.3cm colour touchscreen
|802.11n wireless, 10/100 Ethernet
|2 x USB 2, 3.6Kbits/sec fax/modem, 2 x RJ-11, NFC
|3 x 250-page input trays, 100-page MPT, 50-page A4/A3 DADF
|Recommended monthly duty cycle
|575 x 477 x 449mm (WDH)
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.