Home Reviews Peripherals Brother A3 MFC-J4710DW inkjet printer - review
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I have been on a quest to find the best SOHO – small office/home office – printers that do not send you broke with ink or toner costs and will last the distance.

There are some very good contenders but in the lower cost - <$300 - range Brother is the class leader with more features and lower print costs than its competitors.

First a printer primer …

What to look for in a SOHO printer

Most home workers mistakenly use a cheap home grade printer instead of a SOHO one. Two things happen. It ‘falls-over’ all too easily when confronted with volume printing, and the cost of the ink is inverse to the cost of the printer - it will send you broke. Here is what to look for in the ideal printer.

Factor the number of pages you will print in a year into the purchase price

A typical sub-$99 inkjet using a tri-colour (cyan, magenta, and yellow ink in the one cartridge) usually costs over 30 cents per page - yet a fully featured $799 SOHO quality printer has a page cost of 7 cents. In typical SOHO use of just 4000 pages (8 reams per year), the $799 printer will cost nearly $300 less than the $99 inkjet - yet print significantly faster, produce better images, and it will last a few more years.

Buy genuine ink –refills and generics are Russian roulette

At least during the printer warranty period as it ensures maximum life and best print quality. SOHO printers usually have optional high capacity cartridges - look for online discount bargains from reputable companies like Inkstation or Hot Toner. Brother’s multi-function (reviewed later) costs 21 cents per page at full price yet a four pack of high capacity cartridges costs 8 cents.

Inkjet or laser?

It is all about style. Colour livens up your presentations and the kid’s homework -- laser produces the best colour on plain paper. The Brother Inkjet is close to laser quality.

Do you need to print A3?

Do not underestimate the occasional need for A3 for posters or presentations. Yes, you can always run down to the local printer but the Brother covers that.

Print quality depends on paper

Cheap bond copy paper – 75-80gsm (grams per square metre), soaks up ink like a sponge -- but even the lowest cost printer can produce an acceptable photo image on 250gsm gloss photo paper. Always have some coated and heavier paper on hand for that special job.

What features do you need?

Look for new features including duplex scanning (scans both sides of the bank statements or bills), duplex printing, and networking - some with Wi-Fi - to hook up to a home office network shared by Windows and Mac computers. Some have the ability to print wirelessly from smartphones and tablets too.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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