As compact as it could be
Twin paper trays
USB, Ethernet and Wi-Fi connectivity
Text printing a little grey
Photo printing a little too red
Rear feeder only single sheet
Bulky and heavy
Doesn't offer much over the mid-priced model
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Brother's new range of A3 inkjet multifunction devices brings us three models: the entry-level MFC-J6510DW; the mid-range MFC-J6710DW; and this, the high-end MFC-J6910DW.
As you might expect, they're based on the same form factor and print engine, with the more expensive models adding new features. The entry-level model has a £300 RRP, with the most expensive device going for £450, so they're not expensive for new A3 printers. If you shop around online, you can actually pick them up for under £250 and £350 respectively.
But can this top-of-the-range model put in a top-of-the-range performance, and is it worth the extra £100?
Like the rest of the range, the MFC-J6910DW is as compact as is possible for an A3 printer, but is still pretty bulky. It's 51cm wide by 49cm deep and weighs 18.5 kg, so make sure you have enough desk room or a suitably strong shelf before investing in one.
Like the entry-level MFC J6510DW, this high-end device can be connected to your computer or home network using USB 2.0, Ethernet or Wi-Fi. It uses four ink tanks, with cyan, magenta and yellow coloured inks being joined by an extra-large black tank.
It can scan in A3 at 19,200 x 19,200dpi, print up to 6,000 x 1,200dpi and also photocopy, fax and scan to PDF. It has a 35-sheet ADF and, unlike the entry-level model, offers two paper trays so you can load A3 and A4 paper at the same time. These trays are telescopic, fitting A4 paper natively but expanding to hold the larger A3 size when necessary.
Once again, the 250-sheet paper trays are joined by a media sheet feeder at the rear, which unfortunately only takes one sheet at a time.
Duplex and PictBridge printing is catered for, and you can print from a USB stick or the usual variety of memory cards. An upgrade unique to this most expensive printer in the range is that the 8.3cm LCD is now a touchscreen.
But apart from second paper tray, the MFC-J6910DW doesn't give you much else over the entry-level model; we certainly couldn't recommend it ahead of the mid-range device, which also has twin trays.
But the printer's main drawback is its workmanlike print quality. Although perfectly adequate for day-to-day use, it lacks the stellar clarity and vibrancy needed for high-end photo and art projects, which is a key target market for A3 printers.
Text printing looks a little grey and washed out, and if you look closely, there's a slight bleeding around the characters' edges. Default-quality photo printing on plain paper looks bleached and a little banded, though at high quality using photo paper, results improve.
The prints aren't as vibrant as you'd get from a Canon or a HP Photosmart, and they're a little over-red, but their overall quality is agreeable at this price.
At four and a half minutes to print a best-quality A4 photo and two minutes, 37 seconds for our 20-page text document, we've no complaints about the speed.
With the entry-level model available for under £250 if you shop around, the new Brother range of A3 multifunction printers is definitely affordable. This top-of-the range model is based on the same print engine, but offers a few more features, such as a touchscreen and a second paper tray.
The controls are instinctive, the second paper tray useful and it's pretty robustly built. You can connect through USB, Ethernet or Wi-Fi, scan and copy up to A3 in size and although it's still heavy and bulky, it's as compact as an A3 printer can possibly be. It's pretty fast, too.
Although serviceable, print quality is workmanlike rather than spectacular. Its text printing is fine for a letter to your bank manager, but compared to a leading printer with pigmented black ink, it's a little washed out. Photo printing lacks vibrancy and is a little over-red.
At this price the Brother MFC-J6910DW is good value for money, but if you're looking for an A3 multifunction printer for high-end photo printing and art projects, it might not meet your expectations. It's got a good feature set, but unless you're really keen on a touchscreen, the mid-range J6710DW might be better value.