Brother MFC-J4420DW full review
Most A3 printers are bulky, expensive devices aimed at professional designers and photographers who need them for printing high-quality page proofs of their work. However, home and small business users can benefit from A3 printers as well, perhaps for printing posters to stick on the kids’ bedroom wall, or to advertise your business and products.
Brother’s new MFC-J4420DW is a good option here, as it provides a versatile A4 multifunction inkjet printer that is also capable of occasional A3 printing as well. Priced at a competitive £155, the J4420DW is a four-in-one device that includes a 1200x600dpi printer along with a 2400x1200dpi scanner and copier, and fax machine too. There’s another model, called the J4120DW, that doesn’t include a fax, but that’s only about £10 cheaper, so the fax doesn’t make a major difference to the overall price.
Other features include two-sided printing and a 20-sheet automatic document feeder. There’s a USB port for connecting to your PC, and wifi for network connectivity, and the J4420DW supports Apple’s AirPrint for printing from iOS devices, as well as Google Cloud Print. Brother also provides a useful app called Print&Scan for both iOS and Android devices that allows you to scan documents directly onto your mobile devices as well. The only omission here is an Ethernet interface for wired networks, so you’d need to pay another £40 for the JF4620DW model if you want that option.
The J4420DW is quite neatly designed for an A3 printer, measuring just 188mm high, 480mm wide and 265mm deep. In effect, it’s a standard A4 printer, and the 150-sheet paper tray located in the base of the device only holds papers up to A4 in size. However, you can print on A3 paper by using a second paper feed slot in the back of the printer. This only allows you to feed in one sheet of paper at a time so it really is only suitable for occasional use, but it’s still handy to have that option available from time to time. Our only criticism here is that the main paper tray feels rather flimsy, and we found we had to push it in quite firmly after replacing the paper in order to avoid paper jams.
Brother quotes speeds of 20 pages per minute for mono printing and 18 for colour. Our tests didn’t quite match those figures – we got 17ppm for mono Word documents and 13ppm for PDF files with text and colour graphics – but that’s still good performance for a printer costing around £150, and the J4420DW is certainly fast enough for most home users and small businesses.
Print quality is good, too. Our text documents displayed very smooth text outlines – not quite laser-quality, but perfectly adequate for printing business letters or school reports. Colour graphics were also good, and the J4420DW is well-suited for business graphics and charts. Photos printed on plain paper were less impressive, though, with rather dull colours and slight banding on larger images. Fortunately, using glossy photo paper produced better results, with much brighter colours and a print time of just 40 seconds for a 6x4in post card.
The A3 printing option was quite speedy too, only taking around 50 seconds for an A3 poster containing text headlines and graphics. The J4420DW uses just four standard inks – cyan, magenta, yellow and black – so it can’t match the subtle tonal graduations of more expensive printers designed that use five or more inks, but it’s a good option if you just occasionally need to produce A3 text and graphics documents for school work or for your office.
Colour printing also turns out to be quite affordable. Brother’s high-yield colour cartridges cost £20.39 each direct from Brother and last for 1200 A4 pages, which works out at a competitive 5p per page. The high-yield black cartridge also lasts for 1200 pages, but costs £31.19, which works out at 2.6p per page. That’s not exorbitant, but it’s at the higher end of the average range for mono printing, so it will be worth shopping around to see if you can get better prices online.
Brother MFC-J4420DW: Specs
- Four-colour (CMYK) A4/A3 inkjet printer
- 1200x600dpi print resolution
- 1200x2400dpi scanner
- 300x300dpi fax
- rated speed – 20/18ppm for mono/colour
- 1x USB interface
- 802.11n Wi-Fi
- 150-sheet input tray
- Dimensions – 188x480x290mm
- Weight – 9.5kg