Brother has refreshed its small and home office range of inkjets, and the DCP-J4120DW is the cheapest of the bunch. It's officially £119 plus VAT (around $180 or AUS$226), but we've seen it on sale in a range of reputable outlets for £78 before tax (around $118 or AUS$148). That isn't much money for a printer that does more than just the basics, but will the running costs ruin it?
Setup and specifications
The DCP-J4120DW is a three-in-one printer, which means it can print, scan and copy. You can connect via USB or Wi-Fi, and it supports 802.11b/g/n standards as well as Wi-Fi Direct for easy setup. There's 128MB of on-board memory and it can handle paper sizes of up to A3. You can also print directly from SD, SDHC, SDXC, memory sticks and flash drives using the slots located behind a cover on the front of the device.
Like most recent Brother SOHO printers, there's a small colour touchscreen to operate the printer's various functions, which includes support for cloud services such as Dropbox, Evernote and Google Drive. You can print from and scan to cloud services, hammering another nail in the fax machine's coffin.
The paper tray holds 150 sheets and the output tray 50 and there's a single sheet feeder for other media including the occasional A3 job. The printer can also automatically print double-sided on A4.
The scanner supports both flatbed scanning and scanning via the automated document feeder, and in the latter case it can scan double-sided documents. Flatbed scanning can be performed at up to 2,400 x 2,400 dpi and ADF scanning 2,400 x 1,200 dpi, and there's an interpolation mode that effectively delivers up to 19,200 x 19,200 dpi. The scanner doesn't need a PC or Mac as you can scan to email, files, flash drives and FTP and on Windows networks, email servers and web servers. Scanning takes 3.37 seconds for A4 at 100dpi.
Setting the printer up is straightforward if a little frustrating. The ink cartridges are very easy to insert, however, you then have to wait four minutes while the printer cleans itself, and the small touchscreen's a little on the fiddly side if you have large fingers. It's also worth noting that the supplied cartridges are starter ones, so it won't be long before it's time to buy new, full-sized ink cartridges.
Performance and running costs
The DCP-J4120DW is capable of printing at resolutions of up to 6,000 x 1,200 dpi, and in lower-quality "fast mode" has claimed speeds of 35ppm in mono and 27ppm in colour. If you prefer to measure your speeds in ipm (images per minute, an ISO test based on a specific set of test documents), at laser comparable resolutions the Brother claims speeds of 20ipm in mono and 18ipm in colour.
It's a surprisingly fast printer. A complex, full-colour A4 document containing multiple photographs took just 25 seconds to print, and a two-page Word document in normal mode was completed in 14 seconds. Printing ten copies of a two-page document, again in normal mode, was completed in one minute and 11 seconds. A full colour photograph in photo mode on A4 paper took one minute and 25 seconds.
It's quiet, too, although there is a noticeable whining sound, especially during slower colour print jobs.
As with all inkjet printing, quality depends on the settings and media you use. On plain paper colours appear washed out, even on the best quality settings, and text isn't as sharp as the text you get from laser printers. While things may be a little light they are consistent as blacks appear solid and colours are reproduced without banding or artefacts.
If you've run a cheap inkjet at home you'll know that the achilles heel of many such printers is the cost of keeping them in ink. The DCP-J4120DW can run on standard yield cartridges, which deliver approximately 550 pages of A4, or high yield cartridges, which deliver around 1,200 A4 pages. At the time of writing the standard yield cartridges are retailing at £12.78 (around $19 or AUS$24) for black and £8.64 (around $13 or AUS$16) for each colour, while high yield cartridges are £19.26 (around $29 or AUS$37) for black and £11.54 (around $17 or AUS$22) for each colour.
Excluding paper, at 5% coverage that works out at 1.6p per page in mono and 4.3p per page in CMYK colour (all prices exclude VAT and are for official Brother cartridges). That's very good for such an affordable printer, and its duplex printing should help keep the paper bills down too.