One of the recent trends in inkjet all-in-one printer design is larger, A3 print. Brother has been one of the pioneers of this with many of its business inkjets offering at least occasional, single-sheet A3. However, the MFC-J6530DW is a full A3 design, including main paper tray and automatic document feeder (ADF).
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Designed for the small or home office, the MFC-J6530DW is a big black box with a 50-sheet feeder on top and a pull-out control panel in front, including a 68mm touchscreen and fax number pad. The touchscreen has a rather spongy feel, but does its job. It provides full control of the printer’s functions, including the ability to download and print files from online services, such as Dropbox. You can scan files directly to the same services.
Below the control panel is a single paper tray, which can take up to 250 sheets of A4 or A3 paper. If you’re using the machine with A4 paper, the tray doesn’t protrude from the front panel at all. The same tray will also take paper down to 15 x 10cm, and so can be used for photo blanks. There’s a single-sheet feed at the rear, so you can handle occasional print jobs without having to reload the tray.
To the left of the control panel is a USB socket, where you can transfer documents from a USB drive, and to the right is a flip-down cover providing access to four separate ink cartridges, which slot in and click for very easy maintenance.
The MFC-J6530DW offers USB and 10/100 Ethernet connections, along with phone line and handset links. However, all these cables need to be fed through channels in the machine’s internals, which on a machine of this size takes up quite a bit of the cable length.
The printer can also connect wirelessly and Brother’s apps for Android and iOS are easy to use and quick to detect the machine. It’s a shame the MFC-J6530DW doesn’t benefit from NFC technology, which would make this task simpler still. Software includes the usual drivers and a copy of PaperPort, giving good overall support.
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Brother rates the MFC-J6530DW at 22ppm in black and 20ppm in colour. In my tests, we saw a maximum of 16.4ppm in the 20-page text test, 11.5ppm in the more typical five-page document and 10ppm in the five-page text and colour graphics test. A duplex speed of 12.4ppm in our 20-side test was impressive.
Although some way short of the specification, these speeds are reasonable for a business inkjet printing A4 pages. When you look at the A3 print speed, we saw 22 seconds for a single-colour page and 6 seconds for an A4 colour copy – which is again impressive. 15 x 10cm photos took between 1 minute and 1min 15 secs, depending on source. Again, these are good speeds.
Print quality is variable. Black text is fair, although not as sharp as from printers from Canon and HP. Colour graphics in our test pieces were insipid, as if they’d already been in a window for a week, and there was some noticeable banding in an A3 poster. Photo images on Brother’s own media were bright and sharp, although some detail – such as shadows – was lost in darker areas.
Cartridges are available in two yields, but if you can afford the XL versions, they provide considerably better value. Including 0.7p paper cost, and for the best cartridge price I could find, I calculate a black page cost of 1.7p and a colour cost of 5.2p.
These costs are good, but aren’t the best I’ve seen recently. For example, the £80 Canon MAXIFY MB2050’s costs of 1.7p and 3.7p considerably undercut the Brother on the colour figure.
There’s little doubt that this Brother machine offers decent value, if you can get it at the £180 price at which we found it – that’s less than half its SRP. Other A3 all-in-ones you might consider are Epson’s £175 Workforce WF-7620DTWF or the £161 OfficeJet Pro 7740 from HP.
The Workforce WF-7620DTWF has a much larger touchscreen, twin paper trays and an SD card scanner, while the HP printer offers twin 250-sheet trays as standard, and can only print A3, not scan or copy it.
If you need a machine with full A3 print, scan and copy functions, Brother’s MFC-J6530DW should be on your list. However, it has one or two shortcomings: its variable graphic print quality and lack of a duplex scanner. Even so, at the price, it’s a good general-purpose, wide-format all-in-one.