Brother MFC-J470DW review: Finally, a multifunction inkjet printer with low-cost ink refills

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The Good The Brother MFC-J470DW boasts fast print speeds, cloud connectivity, Apple AirPrint and Google Chrome Print compatibility, four separate ink tanks, and a supremely low cost of consumables.

The Bad The cheap rubber buttons and an overall plastic feel of the unit don't transcend its bargain price tag.

The Bottom Line If you only have $100 to spend on a multifunction inkjet printer for the office, you'll have a hard time finding a faster performer with ink refills as cheap as the Brother MFC-J470DW.

8.2 Overall
  • Value 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 9
  • Design 7

The Brother MFC-J470DW is an easy-to-use multifunction inkjet printer that also operates as a dedicated fax machine, copier and scanner. Its list price is $100 (£108, AU$149), but it's widely available online for up to 30 percent less. The MFC-J470DW offers faster than average output speeds and business-friendly features like an auto-document feeder (ADF), an auto-duplexer for printing on both sides of a single sheet of paper, and a software suite that opens the door to cloud prints and scans (including the ability to print from iOS and Android devices). The ink costs are also lower than many name-brand printers in the sub-$100 range, earning the MFC-J470DW a strong recommendation for use in any office or home work space.

Design and features

Brother advances the design of the MFC-J470DW beyond that of its clunky older siblings with a compact footprint that measures 16.1 inches wide by 14.7 inches deep and 7.1 inches tall (that's 24.6 by 47.6 by 45.2 cm). It's not the smallest printer on the shelf, though -- Epson still holds the bragging rights for its "Small-in-one" series like the XP-420 , but the reason those are so tiny is because they don't have the productivity features of the MFC-J470DW.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Offices can save money on paper by using the duplexer, a useful piece of integrated hardware that automatically flips over a sheet of paper to print on both sides. There's also a 20-sheet auto-document feeder (ADF) tray on top that's useful for batch scanning or faxing using the dedicated phone line. Of course, if you want to go digital, you can also perform a "PC Fax" using an Internet connection to communicate directly from your computer to the unit -- faxing a document without first having to print it.

Brother MFC-J470DW

Price as reviewed $99.99
Dimensions in inches (width x depth x height) 16.1 x 14.7 x 7.1 inches (24.6 x 47.6 x 45.2cm)
Functions Print/copy/scan/fax
Inks 4-ink tank (black, cyan, magenta, yellow)
Automatic 2-sided printing (duplexer) Yes
Automatic document feeder Yes, 20 sheets
Memory card reader No
Connectivity USB 2.0, Wi-Fi, Google Cloud Print, Apple AirPrint, Brother Cloud apps
Paper input tray capacity 100 sheets
Display 1.8-inch color LCD screen

If you're looking for relics of Brother's older designs, check out the control panel. The buttons for mode selection, menu navigation and phone number entry are all made of mushy rubber that feels uncomfortable to use and brings the overall user experience down a step. At least you get a 1.8-inch color LCD display on the left side that shows you things like ink levels, setup assistance and the location of paper jams (although I thankfully experienced none during testing).

Sarah Tew/CNET

Brother bills the MFC-J470DW as a "Work Smart" printer, which might explain the lack of photocentric features like a memory card reader and a PictBridge-compatible USB port for pulling photos directly off flash storage drives and digital cameras.

But that doesn't mean you can't occasionally print photos on this machine. In fact, the removable paper tray on the bottom has plastic tabs that easily adjust to accommodate popular photo paper sizes like 4 by 6 and 5 by 7, in addition to the standard sizes like letter, legal, executive, and even envelopes and index cards.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The flatbed glass scanner also fits up to letter-size documents and can save projects in a variety of formats onto a hard-drive folder, an email message, a Microsoft Office project, or directly into the free Scansoft PaperPort document-viewing software that Brother bundles with the machine.

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