Brother takes a step forward with the $200 MFC-J4510DW all-in-one inkjet printer. Where previous models delivered basic features and boring hardware designs that felt far behind the competition, this office-friendly setup deserves its "future-proof" descriptor with Web-connected features like cloud printing compatibility by way of Apple AirPrint, a 3.7-inch capacitive touch-screen display, and Wi-Fi connectivity. While its 150-sheet paper input capacity limits its usability for large teams, its fresh design and generous two-year warranty earns this printer top marks and a solid recommendation for personal offices and small workgroups.
Design and features
At first glance, you'll notice that the Brother MFC-J4510DW is remarkably compact compared to other multifunctional printers from the company with a rectangular shape that departs from Brother's traditionally square setup. Ancient rubber buttons and exposed paper trays jutting into all directions marred Brother devices from the past, but the MFC-J4510DW gets a modular design with folding media trays, an integrated USB cable that routes through the center of the unit, and an adjustable 3.7-inch touch-screen display on the front that automatically calibrates to sense the pressure of your finger. The unit's dimensions are manageable at 18.9 inches wide, 11.4 inches deep, and 7.3 inches tall, but the two cutouts on either side of the printer make less work out of inter-office transportation.
The 150-sheet paper input tray pulls out of the bottom and actually incorporates another folding plastic tray on top that collects outbound prints. I wouldn't expect large offices with hundreds of employees to consider this kind of printer, but its 13,000 page-per-month printing limit combined with the 150-sheet input capacity means this device will thrive in small workgroups or even as a silent partner in a start-up office environment.
The most innovative feature on this model is Brother's new internal paper-feeding mechanism that instructs you to load paper horizontally. Contrary to most printers, this brave new step allows Brother to keep the physical chassis short and narrow, but it also means you can print on abnormally long tabloid-sized media (i.e. 11x17-inch paper). In that case, you'll need to use the manual feed loader on the rear of the device, but the front end holds its own with automatic-duplexing for printing on both sides of paper and a top-loading, 20-sheet auto-document feeder for loading stacks of media to scan or fax.
The control panel sits squarely in the center of the unit and comprises a backlit 3.7-inch touch screen as well as a collection of virtual buttons that let you dial a fax number, return to the home screen, or exit out of a menu. Perhaps borrowing more features from other printer manufacturers, the buttons light up only when you're in a mode that requires their use. Thankfully, Brother appears to have done its research, and the touch display doesn't suffer from screen sensitivity issues plaguing other printer vendors. Finally, there's also a small Wi-Fi indicator on the bottom-right side of the panel that shows signal strength and alerts you to outages in the network.
Although Brother doesn't include a cable in the box, you can always connect the printer to your computer through the USB port routed inside the guts of the printer. Otherwise, its AirPrint compatibility and Wi-Fi direct setup both offer easy ways to go wireless. Using the wireless access point also gives you the opportunity to pull photos from the printer's integrated apps in the cloud, from sites the likes of Facebook, Picasa, Flickr, Evernote, Google Docs, and Dropbox.
A panel on the right side of the MFC-J4510DW pulls down to reveal access to the four separate ink cartridges: magenta, cyan, yellow, and black. Brother isn't the only company that does this, but this unit unfortunately ships with a set of "starter" pack cartridges that don't contain as much ink as a refill pack--it's a bad first impression to the brand and an insult to the customer that just spent money on your product.