Brother MFC-J6920DW review

The Brother MFC-J6920DW inkjet MFP stands out for how well it handles tabloid-size paper for both printing and scanning.
Photo of Brother MFC-J6920DW

If you need a tabloid-size (11 by 17 inch) multifunction printer (MFP) that’s both inexpensive and loaded with features, the Brother MFC-J6920DW may be what you’re looking for. The next generation incarnation of the Brother MFC-J6910DW, which is still available at this writing, the MFC-J6920DW is the flagship model of Brother’s new Business Smart Pro series. It’s also the new Editors’ Choice for a micro or small office that needs to both print and scan at tabloid size.

Brothers’ Business Smart Pro series is the next step up from its Business Smart series. Models from either series, including the Editors’ Choice Brother MFC-J4710DW, for example, can print on tabloid-size paper. The Pro models, like the MFC-J6920DW, add the ability to scan at tabloid size as well. That makes them the obvious choice if you need to scan, fax, and copy tabloid-size pages. And note that tabloid size in this context also includes the equivalent, but slightly different, ISO A3 size.

Paper Handling and Other Basics
The MFC-J6920DW’s paper handling for both printing and scanning is arguably its strongest point. It’s certainly the key reason to choose it over models that are limited to letter-size paper.

For printing, the MFC-J6920DW offers two 250-sheet paper drawers. You can set either or both for up to tabloid size paper, which means you can load 500 tabloid-size sheets or 250 sheets each of letter and tabloid size to let you switch between them easily. It also offers an automatic duplexer (for two-sided printing) and a one-sheet manual feed, so you can feed other kinds and sizes of paper without having to swap out the paper in the tray.

For scanning, both the flatbed and 35-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF) can also handle up to tabloid (or A3) size. Even better, when you use the ADF, the scanner can duplex with tabloid-size paper by scanning both sides of the pages at once. As you might expect, the duplex scanning combined with duplex printing also lets you copy in duplex. The 3.7-inch color touch screen offers straightforward menus that let you copy both single- and double-sided originals to your choice of single- or double-sided copies. And unlike some tabloid-size MFPs, the duplex copying features work with tabloid-size paper.

In addition to the capable paper handling, the MFC-J6920DW has a long list of MFP features in its repertoire. In addition to printing and faxing from, as well as scanning to your PC either directly or over a network, and working as a standalone fax machine and copier, it can print directly from a PictBridge camera; it can print from and scan to a memory card or USB memory key; and it offers Web-connected features to let you print from and scan to various online services, including Evernote, Dropbox, Box, Facebook, and more.

The printer also supports mobile printing and scanning, including printing through the cloud and printing from or scanning to a smartphone or tablet over a Wi-Fi connection. And because it also offers Wi-Fi Direct, you can print from or scan to a smartphone or tablet even if the printer isn’t on a network with an access point. Finally, NFC (near-field communications) support makes it supremely easy to connect to smartphones that also support NFC.

Setup, Speed, and Output Quality
Setting up the MFC-J6920DW is standard fare. For my tests I connected the printer to a wired network and installed the drivers on a Windows Vista system.

Print speed counts as another strong point. I clocked the printer on our business applications suite (using QualityLogic’s hardware and software for timing), at an effective 5.5 pages per minute (ppm). That makes it essentially tied with the Brother MFC-J4710DW and significantly faster than the 4.1 ppm speed for both the last generation Brother MFC-J6910DW and the Brother MFC-J6710DW, which it replaces as Editors’ Choice. Photo speed was also fast, at 53 seconds for a 4 by 6.

Output quality is uneven, with better looking text than most inkjet MFPs, but not quite as good looking graphics and photos. Text quality in my tests was near the high end of the range for inkjet MFPs, which easily makes it good enough for most business use.

Graphics output was one step below par, which still makes it good enough for any internal business use. Whether you’ll consider it good enough for PowerPoint handouts or the like will depend on how critical an eye you have. Photos on photo paper were roughly a match for the low end of what you would expect from drugstore prints, which is higher quality than most businesses need.

If you don’t need duplex scanning, note that Brother also offers the Brother MFC-J6720DW, which is essentially the identical printer with simplex scanning only. However, there are some other differences also, with the MFC-J6720DW lacking NFC support and limited to a smaller touch-screen control panel, which is just a little less convenient to use.

When I reviewed the previous generation Brother MFC-J6910DW, I mentioned that the only thing keeping it from being Editors’ Choice was that most offices don’t need duplex scanning. For those offices, the Brother MFC-J6710DW would give them an essentially identical printer minus duplex scanning at a lower price. You can apply the same logic here, but it’s not as compelling today, primarily because duplexing printers are much more common than they used to be. That makes it more likely that you’ll need the feature.

If you don’t need duplex scanning or NFC, you can save a little by choosing the Brother MFC-J6720DW. Given the small difference in price, however, the combination of duplex scanning, NFC, and the larger touch screen on the Brother MFC-J6920DW tilts the balance just enough in its favor to make it Editors’ Choice.

Specifications
Print Duplexing Automatic
Standalone Copier and Fax Copier, Fax
Printer Category Ink Jet
Direct Printing from Cameras Yes
Maximum Standard Paper Size Tabloid
Type Printer Only
Ink Jet Type Standard All-Purpose
Color or Monochrome 1-pass color
Connection Type USB, Ethernet, Wireless

Verdict
The Brother MFC-J6920 inkjet MFP delivers fast speed and excellent paper handling for micro and small offices that need to print and scan at up to tabloid size (11 by 17 inches).
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc