Companies, including Canon and Epson, have in recent years offered inkjet printers with refillable tanks as an alternative to costly replacement cartridges.
Brother's perspective is that cartridges are easy and clean to use, and the issue is really about the price of the ink.
So its new INKvestment Tank MFC-J1300DW and DCP-J1100DW — aimed at the SOHO market — feature high-capacity cartridges said to be good for around 3000 black pages and 1500 in colour (ISO 24711).
The "page gauge" feature relates the amount of ink remaining to the number of pages that can be printed. Rather than just providing an estimate based on ISO-standard coverage, a second calculation is performed dynamically, reflecting actual usage of the printer.
The INKvestment approach provides "great value", according to general manager sales (retail) Paul Saussey, who told iTWire that the new models are "incredibly competitive" on a cost-per-page basis.
"It's a solid machine" that is "made for small businesses," he said.
Saussey said these models were cheaper to run than printers with traditional ink cartridges, while delivering features that are sometimes missing from models with ink tanks that are refilled from bottles.
"People are familiar with cartridges" and swapping them is easy and clean, he said.
"We aspired to keep the benefits of a cartridge — simplicity, cleanliness and familiarity — to ensure the best user experience, but combine it with the power of Brother tank technology to provide users visibility of their remaining ink supply and save them money with the most economical print solution in its class."
The $289 DCP-J1100DW is an all-in-one (print, copy, scan) rated at 12ppm, with duplex printing, wireless and USB interfaces, support for mobile device printing and scanning, a 150-sheet paper tray (with a bypass tray for media up to 300gsm), 20-sheet ADF, colour touchscreen, cloud printing and scanning, and provision for custom workflows to simplify routine tasks.
The MFC-J1300DW ($329) adds fax capability and NFC support to simplify mobile device connections.
Both models go on sale on 22 October, exclusively at Officeworks.