Brother goes ink-tank INKvestment for home and small business users
4.6Overall Score

Brother has introduced its first ink tank models that take away the sting of replacement ink cartridges often costing more than the printer did. Ink tanks are all about total cost of ownership – or INKvestment as Brother has coined.

Brother invented the term INKvestment but it did not invent ink tank printers first. Epson has long had Eco-tank printers. These are gradually replacing the older cartridge style printers. Canon has its Endurance range. HP has its PageWide business printers with speeds up to 70 ppm.

I am only alerting you to your options. Inkjet ‘ink-tank’ can be more cost-efficient and replace lasers in the right niches.

The Brother INKvestment Tank MFC-J1300DW and DCP-J1100DW compact all-in-one separate the printhead from the ink cartridge. The printhead lasts the life of the printer, and you merely replace ink cartridges. Brother says this is far more convenient that tipping ink bottles into a reservoir. We agree especially as we still have ink stains on the floor from testing other brands.

Stefanie Dixon, Marketing Manager SMB, Brother Australia said:

We engineered the Brother INKvestment Tank to help solve two significant printing challenges – unexpectedly running out of ink and having to replace ink soon after purchasing a printer. By providing up to one year of ink in-box without the need to replace cartridges, the new all-in-ones help entrepreneurs and home office users alike focus on all the other important things happening in their year.

Paul Saussey, General Manager Sales (Retail), Brother Australia said:

People don’t dislike ink; they dislike having to change expensive ink cartridges frequently and without warning. INKvestment Tank models change the way you ink. We have kept the benefits of a swappable cartridge – simplicity, cleanliness and familiarity but save money with the most economical print solution in its class.

GadgetGuy took a Brother INKvestment Ink Tank printer for a test drive and was suitably impressed with the results.

Brother INKvestment ink tank model MFC-J1300DW

The two models use the same print engine and components. The $329 MFC-J1300DW is a print, copy, scan and fax and the $289 DCP-J1100DW loses NFC and the fax (which few of us use anymore).

Setup – so easy

  • Unbox
  • Load the four cartridges
  • Plug in a USB-A cable, or an Ethernet cable, or connect to Wi-Fi network
  • For a PC download and install the computer software setup (Windows, Mac and Linux)
  • For a mobile device (Android or iOS) install the Brother app
INKvestment

Printing specs

10/12 ppm colour/mono for A4 (first print out in eight seconds) – will print borderless
15 seconds for a 4×6 photo print (smallest print size)
Resolution up to 6000 x 1200 dpi (typically print at lower than that)
Auto-duplex two-sided print (maximum paper weight 105gsm) but print speed slows to 3 ipm (inches per minute)
Paper 64-220gsm x up to 150 sheets in the cassette
Output tray – 50 sheets (care if printing long documents)
64-300gsm manual sheet feeder slot at the rear
Relatively quiet when printing – 50dB otherwise silent

A personal printer or for small workgroups

Eight seconds to first print is quite fast. Research shows most people only print one to three sheets at a time and print speed is adequate – 10/12 colour/mono pages in under a minute. Of course, this slows down if you double side it (3 ppm) and if you select higher quality resolutions.

Our advice – you would not select this speed if you regularly print longer documents or need higher resolutions for presentations (unless you are prepared to wait).

Print quality on 80gsm A4 bond (we liken that to printing on a sponge) gives acceptable prints for internal use. By that, we mean school/uni assignments, letters, spreadsheets and more. The text is crisp and black, and colours are relatively accurate in so far as a ‘sponge’ allows.

If you want better quality, you need to use a coated stock.

Officeworks have paper with a silken (matte) finish, 100 or 120gsm A4 in CIE 170 Whiteness. I also tried it on 135gsm digital gloss paper, and it was perfect for submissions and photos, albeit speed suffered.

We had some 210gsm silken finish copy paper, and it fed fine from the cassette.

Officeworks exclusively sell these Brother printers so pick up a pack of heavier stock to experiment. Just be a little careful – normal copy paper comes in 500 sheet reams. Thicker stock is usually about half that.

Also, pick up a pack of 4 x 6 photo paper. Photo prints were as good as a bought one but not as good as a dedicated photo printer that may use five or more print heads and inks.

If you experience a paper jam (and we did not), the device opens like a clamshell, and you can move the printer head if the jam is under it. The rear cover also opens. Overall it is easy to access the innards.

INKvestment Consumables

Brother claims it has one year’s ink supply in the box Based on average monthly print volumes of 150 pages at 60/40% black/colour pages (ISO/IEC 24711 using four cartridges provided). Technically the claim is correct, but it all depends on your use.

INKvestment
ISO Tests

It has a clever page gauge feature to tell you how much ink is left either based on your use or ISO standard use.

It uses LC3333/c/y/m ink tank cartridges that yield 1500 pages and the LC3333BK black that yields 3000 pages. These figures use ISO tests at 5% coverage.

Brother says these are dye-based to give more vibrant colours.

Tanks cost $41 each or $164 per set. Mono print at 5% gives this a print cost of .014 cents. However, if you are printing full colour (c/y/m/k), we suspect the print cost will be up to 10 cents a page.

These figures are comparable to laser printing costs with the benefit that you do not have to change drums, belts and toner.

Scanning/faxing/copying

20 sheet automatic document feeder (at 65gsm) and supports up to 100gsm
Scan size using ADF – up to 216mm wide and from 148 to 355mm long
Scan platen area 216(W) x 297(L)mm
Max resolution 2400 x 1200 optical
Single sided scanning via ADF
Fax model: colour or mono fax, 180 page memory, 100 names x 2 numbers,
Up to 99 copies and 25-400% enlargement

My greatest fear of any scanner is that documents will jam and it becomes less reliable with age. While I cannot say this scanner mechanism will last the distance it looks well built and it easy to access if you need to.

It comes down to what you intend to use it for. Most home users seldom scan more than a few bills or pages and its fine for that. If you were scanning daily, then look at more industrial strength dedicated scanners that can handle a wider range of weights, staples, auto-duplex etc.

Brother has lots of scanning software options in its ControlCentre 4.0 ranging from pressing the button on the 6.8”LCD to:

  • Scan as editable text with OCR
  • Scan to PDF (also editable)
  • Book scan, N-ups,
  • Output to SharePoint
  • Output to email, Nuance PaperPort, FTP, network device, SD card, USB, folder or cloud
  • Secure scan
  • Photo scan and moiré pattern removal (from offset printed photos)

In summary, it’s as comprehensive a printer as a home user could ever want. The scanner also acts as a copier (colour or mono) and as the fax feeder.

Apps

The MFC version has NFC for better mobile connection. All apps work on both devices. This is a brief overview of the apps

  • Brother Web Connect allows scanned images or files to upload to various public clouds as well as print directly from the cloud. Clouds include Google Drive, Evernote, Dropbox, OneDrive, Box, OneNote and Brother Creative Centre
  • Google Cloud Print allows you to print to a printer registered to your Google account using a network-compatible device (such as a mobile phone or computer) without installing the printer driver on the device.
  • Mopria, Wi-Di compatible
  • Control Centre utility gives quick access to frequently-used applications.
  • iPrint and Scan for Windows and Mac
  • PhotoCapture Centre is great for manipulating JPEG photos on a camera, smartphone, memory card and  USB and printing them.
  • Brother Creative Centre has 100s of free customisable templates for home and business use, special occasions and craft.

GadgetGuy’s take:

Brother’s  INKvestment printers are well-made and suitable for small office, home office or small workgroup printing. Print speeds are OK for what it is but if you need to print many documents in a hurry, look for something over 30 pages per minute. Brother has faster INKvestment models in A4 and A3 print sizes as well. Check out the MFC-J5945DW for $599 that does 20ppm, A4 and A3, duplex print and scan. Now that is a full-featured printer.

INKvestment

Ink costs are good – lower than a laser in mono and comparable in colour without the need to replace drums, belts etc.

I use an older Brother A3 printer in the office, and I am familiar with the touchscreen layout and apps. It certainly offers a huge range of functionality that is unexpected from a lower cost printer.

INKvestment
Gets the tick if your use patterns suit the speed and you want best cost of ownership

Brother goes ink-tank INKvestment for home and small business users
Low runninng costs mean better total cost of ownershipBrother quality for small office/home office use
10/12ppm is OK but you may want to spend more and get 20ppm or faster
Features
Value for money (Total cost of ownership)
Performance
Ease of use
Design
4.6Overall Score
Reader Rating 2 Votes