Pros: Quiet. Excellent photos. Fairly cheap ink. Decent speed. Enclosed print tray & ADF
Cons: Ink pricy if you use OEM brand but Brother is still better than most brands
Brother MFC-J410W wireless printer is ideal for home use
I have been using a Canon ImageClass MF4350d all-in-one printer for about a year (see my other review of it) and it is a great black and white laser printer. However my wife wanted something smaller, and wanted color. The Canon was just to huge and heavy for her (I like it because it is also bulletproof). We were also looking for a wireless printer to share it. She is a professional artist and does not print a lot but prints in color a lot. We also wanted a printer that does a good job with photo printing. That pretty much necessitates a color inkjet printer. The bane of inkjets is the cost of the ink cartridges so that was a big part of the buying decision. We have been burned by expensive ink cartridges. I wanted separate black- and separate color cartridges.
Enter the Brother MFC-J410W
Brother is one of the top brands in printers. My son has been using one of their desktop laser printers at college for 3 years without a hitch. They are one of the pioneers in all-in-one printers too. We were looking at something in the $100 range and also shopping for a bargain. One day I saw this printer selling for half price so I bought it.
The first thing you notice is that this is quite a compact footprint for an all in one printer. My HP Photosmart from a couple years ago which is a dedicated inkjet printer, dwarfs the Brother MFC-J410W.
Inside the box
The MFC-J410W comes with a set of “starter” ink cartridges that are supposedly about 2/3 full compared with regular Brother cartridges. There are four separate ink cartridges: Black, Magenta, Cyan and Yellow. The cartridges are in vacuum-sealed bags you can hear the hiss of air when you tear open the bag. In addition when you install the cartridges you turn and remove a plug on the cartridge that is also vacuum sealed. These cartridges model LC61B, LC61M, LC61C and LC61Y fit a variety of modern Brother printers and are easy to find at office supply stores. Because of the vacuum packaging they should have a very long shelf life and not dry out. Brother sells ink catridges, they do not come with a printer head. This saves you a lot of cash because you are not buying a print head.
Installing the cartridges was as simple as popping open a door on the front panel of the printer, and popping in the cartridges one at a time. It is real access and you do not have to tear apart the whole machine just to replace the ink. Well done, Brother.
There is no USB printer cable included. Yes this is common for cheaper printers and is becoming the norm. Still I knock off a fraction of a star for this. You probably already have a spare USB cable. One the other hand since this is a wireless network printer you do not need to use a USB cable with it at all.
The printer is lightweight. The construction does not seem terrible sturdy but is not incredibly cheesy either: It seems robust enough to do the job. My other Brother printer is going on year four and still works fine.
The user manual is on a CD-ROM. There is a basic user manual which is printed on paper and a quick start guide on paper, like a big poster that shows you how to unpack it and install the ink and the paper. The document that comes with the printer is rather slim and covers the basics. However using this printer is very intuitive. I told my wife “This works just like the Canon” and armed with that she was printing and making copies from Day One. The setup instructions are simple. The first time you turn on the printer it whirs for a couple of minutes. After that it shuts off automatically when not being used. Startup from sleep is extremely fast.
There is a 1.9” brightly lit color LCD screen that takes you through all the setup. Brother did a nice job. I have seen bigger LCD but in this price class, to get an LCD display at all is more than you get with most of them.
One very nice feature that is rare in this price class: the Brother MFC-J410W has both an automatic document feeder (ADF) that holds 15 pages, and a fully-enclosed paper tray that holds 100 sheets of paper. That is not a huge paper supply but consistent with this price class; my Canon holds 250 sheets. Still, having the paper enclosed without dust is very nice. Being able to scan and copy a sheaf of papers is also very nice. Realistically speaking most business documents are less than 15 pages.
Setting up wireless internet using the printer menu
Brother printers are known for having good software and firmware and this one is no exception. Setting up the MFC-J410W was a breeze. You just press the Menu button to to Initial Setup and there is an option for wireless. It walks you through the process. Basically just press a button and the Brother printer scans and detects your wireless router automatically and installs itself so use the router. This is done without need of installing a CD on your PC. The printer talks to the router directly. Nothing could be simpler.
Accessing MFC-J410W with an Android smart phone
A few minutes after setting up wireless access I installed an Android application called Brother iPrint on my Droid X smart phone. It is a free application on Android Market made by Brother Industries. This little app lets you print photos stored on the Droid phone directly to the MFC-J410W over WiFi. It automatically detected my printer and a minute later I was printing from my photo gallery. What a great app. It also lets you scan documents from the MFC-J410W directly onto the SD card on your Droid. Note that I was already using this printer without ever having installed the drivers on my PC. I wish they would extend this Android app to print Adobe PDF files and text files; maybe that comes next. Are you listening, Brother?
Installing the drivers on the PC
It was very simple to install the Brother driver software on multiple PCs some running Windows XP Professional and others running 64 bit Windows 7 Professional. Just insert the CD click on English language, and off it goes. It automatically detected the MFC-J410W on my wireless network, made some changes to the firewall to enable advanced features, all without a hitch. It also includes very nice photo editing software that is optimized for taking portraits of people, but is also very useful when taking photos of my wife’s artwork and printing them. There was another application that lets you scan books and it will save it as a text file: I have not tried that one yet.
Photo printing with the MFC-J410W.
When using high quality photographic paper the results of printing photos are superb. I think easily as good as my HP Photosmart, better actually. Printing full sized 8x11” photos was beautiful. We used Fujifilm Premium Plus Photo Paper and Fujifilm Premium Plus Photo Paper Professional
It is essential to set the printer properties to use BP 71GLGR as the photo paper as this is the Brother brand (probably made by Fujifilm haha). But in any case you need to set it to use this setting for premium photo paper and it adjusts the printing quality and paper handling accordingly. You can also set up the printer for Normal color or Vivid. I like the Vivid setting quite a bit. The color saturation is stunning when you set up this printer the right way. When printing artwork it is worth the money to use the best printer paper available; I think that Fuji paper is the top of the heap.
Because it is going over the wireless network and printing at extreme high resolution printing large photos is kind of slow. I do not dock the printer for that because most people do not use it for this. Printing 4x6” snapshots on the other hand is quite fast.
Printing documents in color and black & white
The user documentation claims 33 pages per minute in black & white, and 27 pages per minute in color. I am not sure I buy that. They do say that this speed is only achievable using a USB cable (not included haha) and direct hookup to a single PC. I will say that once the printer actually starts printing a job, after the first page, additional pages come out quite fast after that. The same is true for making multiple copies.
I can honestly say this is one of the quietest if not the quietest printers I have ever heard. There is very little noise and no vibration at all. You can hear the printer but it is very quiet. If you were sitting next to it having a phone conversation while it was printing you would not be annoyed.
Green features and ink-saving features
The printer shuts off after a few minutes of non-use. The LCD screen goes completely dark and the printer is silent. When an actual print job comes it the printer wakes up by itself. There is no need to turn this printer on and off. When used as a copier you can make it copy in black and white by use of two Start buttons on the front panel: One for color the other for black & white copies. A lot of printers give you no such control and wind up using some color ink all the time. Shame, shame on them.
Using the MFC-J410W as a Copier
It is really easy to switch between modes: There will be Copy, Scan and Fax buttons on the front panel and one of the buttons is always lit up in blue. If you want to copy press the Copy button, it lights up in blue. Place up to 15 sheets of paper face down on the ADF. You really need to press the paper fully into the ADF for the pages to feed. Press the number of copies for example press the numeral 6 for six copies. Then press Start (Black) button. It will churn out 6 black & white copies of the original. Same thing for color copies except you would press the Start (Color) button. Brother makes it really, really easy and intuitive to use.
There is no duplex printing (printing on both sides of a page) nor would you expect on in this price class. My Canon has it but costs twice as much (and is not wireless).
One caveat for people who print addresses on envelopes: The Brother MFC-J410W does not have a separate paper feeding slot to load an envelope one at a time. This is a convenience feature on a lot of printers; this one lacks it. As always, it is the price/performance tradeoff. Yes you can print on envelope stock but you need to open the paper tray, remove the paper and replace it with blank envelopes. Personally we do not have a mailing list so I have not tried it. I would rather have the automatic document feeder which it does have; to get the envelop slot you need to move up the Brother price range a bit.
I have not encountered jams nor failure to feed using either Hammerhill Copy Plus paper nor HP Injet paper. I like the Hammerhill because it works equally well in a laser printer. As always, tell the printer driver what kind of paper you were using and it prints fine and feeds fine. I prefer to use just the Hammerhill and buy it by the case. It is a 20 pound fairly bright but not super bright paper that looks businesslike. Printing color graphics looks decent too. Do not print photos on this paper; that is what the Fujifilm is for.
Using it as a Fax machine
I will confess I have a somewhat more complicated setup than a lot of people. I have the Brother MFC-J410W hooked up, not to a traditional landline, but to a Ooma Telo which is a VOIP (voice over Internet protocol) phone device. In other words the phone is hooked up to the Internet. The phone wire from the MFC-J410W plugs into the Oooma; the Ooma plugs into my router. Into the MFC-J410W I plug a wireless phone.
Since Ooma has its own voicemail service, I do not want the MFC-J410W to ever answer the phone and think it is an incoming FAX. Therefore in the General Setup -> FAX menu setting I set the receive mode to Manual. I do not expect to receive faxes on this line nor have I tested it. There is a fax Easy Answer mode or something like that, which if the phone rings and it is a FAX all you need to do is lift the phone attached to the MFC-J410W off the hook and it will automatically receive the fax. Not tried that either.
However what I have done, quite successfully, is to transmit multi-page faxes. I sent one to my work office from home. It looked beautiful. As good as a business fax machine; the scanner on the Brother MFC-J410W is top notch.
A trick for Ooma telephone users, as some have reported problems sending FAX over Ooma, dial *99 first before you dial the rest of the phone number; then press Start. What the *99 does is put the Ooma into FAX mode (it turns off the voice compression hardware in the Ooma). I think you do this and faxes will go through fine; mine did.
So I can honestly say I have tried nearly everything in this wonderful little all in one printer: printing black & white documents; printing photos on professional quality paper; making B&W and color copies; and sending faxes. Everything works fine. Not only that but I have printed photos directly from my Droid X phone! It all works.
The printer will tell you how much ink remains in the cartridges and warn you when they run low. Keep spares handy. The LC61B black cartridge retails for $25. The color cartridges are $12 each or one of each in a 3-pack for $31. So replacing all four cartridges costs $56 which is more than I paid for the printer when it was on sale.
However, and I will say this is a big however, you may want to consider the use of aftermarket ink cartridges with this printer. Note that the MFC-J410W uses “ink cartridges” not “ink and print-head combination” so any concerns about using “remanufactured” cartridges should not be a concern. Unlike HP which tries to weasel persuade you to use their OEM brand cartridges by putting firmware in the cartridge itself, the MFC-J410W does nothing like that. It works fine with aftermarket cartridges. I bought a set of (10) aftermarket ink cartridges, (4) black and (2) of each color for a grand total of $15, shipped. That would cost $112 if you bought OEM ink. They are not a high tech item it is mostly a reservoir with some ink in it and a gasket so the ink does not leak out. The choice is yours. Brother says right in the user manual that use of third-party ink does NOT void your warranty, but if the damage to you printer is caused by third party ink they will not pay for the repair. That is fair. Brother also lets you replace cartridges on at a time, which is unusual at this price point. It is debatable how much you save by doing this, but let’s say you have a color cartridge with all 3 colors and the red ink runs out but 20% of the yellow ink was still left. Well, you are throwing out ink. Call me the old Yankee, but I do not like to waste. So the Brother system of individual cartridges is better.
They rate the printer for 50-1,000 pages per day of printing which fits most people. I sure do not print 1,000 sheets a day, that is two full reams of paper. The Brother cartridges are rated for up to 450 pages for the black, and up to 325 pages for the color. So if you print a lot you can conceivably go through quite a bit of ink. This is for people who want the convenience of color. If you do not print photos and do not print in color let me recommend the Canon ImageClass MF4350d laser printer that I reviewed earlier.
I can heartily recommend this Brother MFC-J410W multifunction center as an all-in-one printer that delivers what it says. This is good for a home, student or small home office. The print quality is good. The printer is very quiet. Photo quality is extremely good, quite surprisingly good and much better than I hoped for, if you use the best paper.
This is called a light duty machine, it holds 100 sheets of paper and feeds 15 sheets through the automatic document feeder. For many of us probably most of us that is all we will need. For this $99 price point (and I paid half of that, on a big sale) the Brother MFC-J410W is remarkable. It is amazing what they can do for features and ease of use at this price point. The machine is not super quick to start up but once it starts chugging out the pages it is quite fast. Wireless internet setup is flawless and this lets you share with multiple PC’s, laptops, and smart phones.
I had to really think should this be 4 stars or 5 stars? Well in value and price-performance it is definitely a 5 star product. For absolute performance, when compared with printers costing twice as much, 4 stars. I will split the difference and give it 4.5 stars. I do not know the long term longevity of this model but I have been never been burned yet with a Brother product.
At the price I paid, I bought two of them to keep one as a spare. That should tell you something.