Brother Business Smart MFP: Big Features, Small Package

The universe of multifunction printers – sometimes called MFP, sometimes called AIO (all-in-ones) – is a conservative market at best. The major advances have been about increasing the use of Wi-Fi and Internet access to extend the printer’s reach beyond the office walls. You don’t see much design change in the printer world from year to year.

Brother built its Business Smart Series All-in-One small business printers to buck this trend. This multifunction color inkjet stands out from the pack with innovative design and office-friendly features at a modest price. In this review, we put the Business Smart model MFC-J4510DW ($199) to the test.

With the J4510 small business printer, Brother has seemingly embraced a different way of thinking about multifunction printers. But is different necessarily better?

Multifunction Form and Function

One look tells you that Brother has taken a – dare we say Apple-esque – cue in designing the J4510. The 20 pound multifunction printer’s footprint is barely larger than an 11 x 17 sheet of paper. Its rounded corners and sculptural one-piece body look from above like a 7-inch thick iPhone.

Brother's Business Smart Series All-in-One inkjet printer

Figure 1: The Business Smart Series All-in-One inkjet printer combines printing, copying, scanning and faxing into an innovative, compact and stylish design.

Like a gadget produced by “Q” in a James Bond film, all of this printer’s appendages – such as document feeder, output tray, and port access – collapse using foldable joints so you can tuck them tuck away in hidden compartments.

The most radical design element that influences both the J4510’s form and function is its landscape orientation. The paper tray is oriented in landscape mode, and even the print heads and the feed mechanism are all engineered to process pages in landscape orientation, even when printing portrait output.

In other words, this machine prints sideways. It’s a clever touch, shaving space off the unit’s footprint, and allegedly improving print speed.

Consistent with the smartphone-inspired theme, the controls on the J4510 occupy a 3.7-inch color LCD touch screen display. Large colorful icons and detailed status messages are a big improvement from obtuse printer interfaces with mysterious controls. You can swipe to scroll, and you can even arrange icons for oft-used functions with saved settings into a shortcut area for fast access. When using specific modes like copy or fax, the display illuminates only those options relevant to the task at hand – another nice touch to help reduce “MFP confusion.”

You can connect the J4510 to your network via Ethernet or wireless. Setup is a snap thanks to detailed display. And you’ll also find, hidden behind a front panel, slots for USB flash drives or Memory Stick and SD cards common to cameras and phones.

Printing and Scanning

Although the J4510 looks like it’s one piece, the top portion actually lifts to reveal a scanner bed. The lid itself contains – within another hidden slot – a built-in automatic document feeder (ADF) that holds up to 20 pages.

The 2,400 dpi (on glass)/1,200 dpi (ADF) scanner can send output to a variety of destinations. You can make copies directly to the printer and shrink or zoom them in the process, and you can save scans directly to memory media or across the network to an email address, shared folder, or a Web app (more on that shortly). You can also use the Brother “iPrint & Scan” app for mobile devices to initiate a scan and receive the resulting document directly on your smartphone or tablet.

Brother claims that the landscape orientation of the J4510 helps to increase print speeds. The printer is rated to a maximum of 35ppm in fast black mode. In our tests, we printed a 35-page text-heavy document in fast black mode and got a rate of about 22 ppm. Still, this is no slouch for an inkjet. The pages fire out at a rapid pace.

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