Brother MFC-J415W - Performance and Verdict

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The print speeds quoted in the spec sheet are as unrealistic as ever. Brother quotes 35ppm for black print and 28ppm for colour. We saw 2.9ppm on our five-page text print and 3.1ppm on the 20-page document. The maximum we got out of the machine was 8.3ppm in draft mode, still less than a quarter of the rated speed. We know Brother isn’t alone in hyping speeds, but isn’t it time all makers started quoting ISO speed ratings, which bear some resemblance to what a customer will see?


Copy speeds were more reasonable, with a single-page colour copy taking 30 seconds and a five-page black text document from the ADF completing in 43 seconds. A 15 x 10cm photo from a PC took a very respectable 36 seconds, but one from an SD card took a sloth-like three minutes.


Print quality is variable. Photo prints are reasonably well detailed, but there’s a graininess to areas of solid colour and particularly in shadowed areas of images, which isn’t down to any fault in the camera that took them.


Colour graphics on plain paper are solid, though colours are insipid when compared with other machines at a similar price. This is even more pronounced when you take a photocopy of a colour original; resulting prints can look very faded. Black text over colour is well registered, though, with very little haloing.


Black text is clear and there are no signs of feathering or misalignments of head passes. Draft text, however, is both very faint and not particularly well-formed. We don’t believe many users would be happy to use draft mode on a regular basis, even if it does save time and ink.


This is a new machine and at the time of writing, the only prices available for the ink cartridges are suggested retail prices (SRPs). When the cartridges start to be discounted, you can expect running costs to drop. Currently, though, we calculate a black page cost of 6.15p and a colour page cost of 16.5p. Both these figures are very high, so even after applying the kind of discounts Brother consumables attract, this isn’t going to be a cheap device to run.

Verdict


Brother’s MFC-J415W is pretty much more of the same, with no appreciable improvement in print quality, speed or running costs over earlier models. The slight cost reduction over the widescreen model further up the range is probably not enough to warrant making the saving. It would be good to see a new generation of Brother print engine addressing some of its current shortcomings.