Brother MFC-J4540DW INKvestment printer comes with a year’s ink (review)

The Brother MFC-J4540DW INKvestment printer can print thousands of pages using economical ink tank refills – no expensive per-page costs and no cartridges to throw away.

It is part of the new range using the same print engine – J4340DW and J4440DW in a typical good, better and best scenario.

All are 20/19pppm (mono/colour), proper duplex print, MFC (fax, scan, print and copy), but the J4540 has a second tray for up to 400 sheets of paper, Ethernet, a large 2.7″ LCD screen and NFC.

Why MFC or MFP?

More than ever, a printer is the on-and-off-ramp to the internet. Even <$100 printers often have a scanner, and while the fax is a dying medium, you may need the secure transmission of signed documents.

Brother MFC-J4540DW INKvestment

WebsiteProduct range and Product Page
Price$329
FromOfficeworks exclusive – other models sold elsewhere
Warranty2-years
CompanyBrother (Est 1908) is a Japanese multinational electronics and electrical equipment company h. Its products include printers, multi-function printers, scanners, consumer and industrial sewing machines, large machine tools, label printers, typewriters, fax machines, and other computer-related electronics. Brother distributes its products both under its name and under OEM agreements with other companies.
MoreCybershack Brother news and reviews

First impression – a largish rectangular bread box printer

It at least comes in a more palatable cream colour. As this has the second paper tray, it is 435 (H) x 373 (W) x 250 (D) mm and 10.4kg, but you need a 600mm desktop to allow for access to the rear feed and front output. All models are the same width and depth. It has a 6.8cm large LCD screen and dedicated buttons for several functions – excellent.It is a true multi-function – print, copy, scan, fax and has Wi-Fi N 2.4Ghz, USB 2.0, Ethernet and Wi-Fi Direct with its SSID and password. It is suitable for workgroups with BRAdmin Pro 4 software, Active Directory and LDAP authentication.

It also publishes recommended monthly volumes (few makers do), and it is good for 2000 pages per month and occasional use to 30,000 per month. That reflects excellent build quality.

Setup – easy 9/10

Download the Brother driver for Windows, Mac or Brother Mobile Connect app (iOS or Android). Setup is simple – select Wi-Fi, USB or Ethernet and give it the appropriate permissions. Once set up, you can access the printer via an IP address and web browser to fine-tune.

The driver and app have set up, print, scan, status and advanced features.

The online manual is a must-read if you are keen – I was.

Paper

It has a front 180 sheet (80gsm) tray, 250 sheet plain paper second tray and a rear feed manual slot (leave room behind it for that) – excellent. It has a 100-page front output tray.

I really like that it can handle from 4×6″ to A4 oversize recycled, plain, matte, glossy papers to 300gsm offering exceptional flexibility (stock over 105gsm uses the manual feed and cannot duplex print).

Print quality

The trick here is to select the right paper and resolution. It defaults to ‘standard’ that is fine for most 80gsm printing. You can choose fast or high quality (for premium paper) and grayscale if you are printing mono. Double-sided print is off by default but easily activated in the driver or the control panel.

We printed a mix of Word documents (with text and photos), PDF (one big picture) and webpages (combination of text and graphics) on A4 80gsm bond. There was no colour banding or bleed, but it is average quality output as expected with this paper.

We also used Burrows A4 100gsm Premium digital gloss and silk papers, and the result was excellent. These are coated stocks, and 500 pages (one ream) costs a reasonable $19.95. They feed via the tray and duplex print as well.

We also tested on 250gsm heavy coated stock. It manually fed without issue and printed beautifully.

It supports n-up, watermark, booklet and different print profiles.

Print speed – all within specification

The first page-to-print time is <6 seconds, and with a Word document, it managed 18/17 pages per minute single-sided, and duplex averaged 9ppm. A 4×6 photo print was just over 1 minute, and a full A4 high-quality colour print averages one ppm.

This is very fast for a printer for this price bracket, and the device can do duplex without issues that many other printers have.

We tested Apple Airprint Brother Mobile Connect Android and flawlessly printed PDF and JPEG. There is a Mopria Cloud option for Android (not tested). There are also various cloud options (not tested).

Scan  – you can also scan and print

It is a CIS 2400x1200dpi, 20-page Auto Document Feed (ADF – not duplex), and flatbed LED scanner. Select 200-300 dpi for most use.

We scanned various images, and the scan is average. In other words, unless you up the resolution, the scan and copy will provide more of an approximation of colour. At 1200 dpi, it made an appreciable difference but a far larger file size.

It supports scan to a computer, smartphone, email, USB, FTP, and cloud with software supplied.

Fax – who uses that anymore?

It has a 180-page fax memory, 25 page ADF, and regular reporting on send and retries.

Ink – Officeworks prices but shop around

It uses LC436 ink cartridges (no print head). The box includes starter cartridges for 2600/1900 mono/colour pages. You can purchase standard yield (3000/1500) for $39 each ($156 total about 10 cents an A4 colour print) or High Yield XL (6000/5000) for $428 (about 8 cents an A4 colour print)

Some ink tank printers offer larger page counts and lower page costs, but these are more expensive to buy, less featured and slower. The trade-off is slightly higher print costs.

Warranty and build

It has a two-year warranty. Build-wise, it is mostly plastic with some metal reinforcement. Respect it, and it is a keeper.

Our strongest advice is to leave it on (it will engage sleep mode) as that helps prevent ink clogging. There is a suite of head cleaning and alignment options that we did not use over the 4-week test.

The most important issue is to keep the paper friction rollers (under the top cover and on each tray) clean, especially if you use a lot of double-sided printing. A cotton bud and sparing use of water/detergent is perfect for stubborn ink removal. Don’t use a cloth that may leave lint or other cleaners. Clean the scanner glass with a glass cleaner like Windex.

In the event of a paper jam, you can remove the back cover for access.

Power use is minimal – 1.2W in sleep mode and up to 21W in use. Noise is <65dB when printing.

Cybershack view – Brother MFC-J4540DW INKvestment is an excellent printer for home or small office use

Given that four weeks of use is not exhaustive testing, we think it is fine for reasonably heavy home or home office use.

Print quality is excellent if you select the correct paper and resolution and 4×6 photo prints (on photo paper) were very good.

Rating – Brother MFC-J4540DW INKvestment

This is unbeatable on the value and features front (speed, two trays, full MFP, Wi-Fi/USB/Ethernet). The ink cost is very good, although there are lower page cost ink tank printers at higher purchase prices. You would consider these if you print a ream or more a month.

Overall it is what I would buy, and at $329 feel I got a bargain. I admit to having a soft spot for Brother. I purchased my first Brother MFP in 2005, and after heavy use, it died in 2017. I replaced that with a Brother A3 MFP, and it is still going strong.

$329 from Officeworks
9

Features

9.0/10

Value

10.0/10

Performance

9.0/10

Ease of Use

9.0/10

Design

8.0/10

Pros

  • Best value fully-featured MFC ink tank
  • Two trays for 400 sheets
  • INKvestment low cost ink cartridges
  • LAN, USB and Wi-Fi connection
  • Mono/colour print speed is almost the same

Cons

  • There are other Ink Tank printers with lower page costs
  • Fairly big on the desk


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