Brother is overhauling the look of its consumer and SOHO all-in-ones and the Brother MFC-J870DW is one of the first new-look printers. It's a colour inkjet that has built-in NFC for printing from mobiles, and it has a touchscreen for controlling the key functions. At £120 it's not even that expensive, making it an interesting option for an affordable all-in-one option.
There are a lot of smoothly rounded edges on this machine, with a slight look of an HP Photosmart about it. The slimline scanner lid has a 20-sheet Automatic Document Feeder (ADF) built-in, with the near-obligatory flip-open feed tray and Brother’s upside-down feed, which brings pages of originals out on top of the feed stack.
The control panel is now in a separate hinged binnacle on the front of the all-in-one and includes both a 68mm touchscreen and a dedicated panel, with mode-sensitive touch buttons, including a number pad for fax dialling. Both screen and panel are sensitive enough to control the printer’s functions easily.
The main, 150-sheet paper tray feels flimsy and plastic, but is strengthened a little by having a 20-sheet photo tray inset into its lid. The photo tray has to be engaged manually, by extracting the cassette, sliding it forward and replacing it.
To the left of the paper trays is a flip-down cover to a pair of memory card slots and a front panel USB/PictBridge socket. To the right is another cover, concealing four ink cartridges, which are available in two capacities.
Just above the paper trays is a grey, full-width tab, which can be pulled down before sliding in a DVD/CD holder, stored in the scanner lid, to print directly on suitably coated discs. This is an unusual feature on all-in-ones at this price.
The MFC-J870DW has USB and network connections, as well as wireless. Sockets for these, as well as for a phone line and third-party handset, are all inside the machine; you get at them by folding back the scanner section.
Near Field Communication (NFC) is an upcoming technology, similar to contactless credit cards or Oyster travel cards. The idea is that when you touch a mobile device which supports NFC to a marked area of an NFC-enabled printer (here it’s the front panel, to the left of the paper trays) data is transferred, so the mobile knows exactly what it’s printing to.
NFC doesn’t affect the printing process itself, but does remove the need to play around finding a printer on a wireless network, before you can print to it. It reduces the hassle of printing wirelessly.
Software in the MFC-870DW includes Brother’s MFL-Pro Suite and PaperPort 12 SE from Nuance.