Brother MFC-J4540DW multifunction inkjet printer

The Brother MFC-J4540DW is an A4 duplex printer/scanner/fax machine with a 20-sheet document feeder.

Even as we strive to go paperless, printers are a necessary evil. But things have changed. Once a device to steer customers away from as much money as possible on the inevitable (and expensive) refilling of ink, manufacturers are keen to promote sustainability (or more likely to recognize that we have our ink cartridges refilled rather than the maximum amount replacement devices to be paid for officials) now offer devices with a reasonable supply of ink.

The MFC-J4540DW is an ‘INKvestment’ multifunction printer from Brother as it comes with ‘up to’ one year of ink in the box. This is based on up to 2,600 pages in black and white and 1,900 pages in colour.

I was expecting something more like Epson’s EcoTank arrangement, with the package including a couple of bottles of ink to refill the printer’s ink tanks. Instead, I got four large cartridges (black, cyan, magenta, and yellow), most of which were blank plastic, each with a tiny bit of ink. Therefore, despite the INKvestment branding, Brother only supplies starter cartridges with full-size cartridges available at an additional cost. I have no real problem with that, but the INKvestment branding suggests something more than just marketing nonsense. You seem to be getting the same offer you’ve always gotten.

Measuring around 42cm x 33cm x 24cm, it’s a fairly compact printer suitable for a home office and I can easily find a place for it. Setup was painless as well. I was only able to connect the printer to the wireless network using the printer menu on the touch screen. So if you don’t want to use the provider’s setup tools, you’re still fine. The touchscreen provides easy access to printer features and setup tools.

The printer has a software suite that can be downloaded from the Brother website. The software can set up the printer wirelessly, via an Ethernet cable, or via a direct USB connection.

The Ethernet and USB ports are interestingly hidden under the scanner bed instead of just being positioned on the back of the machine. There are also sockets for landlines and telephones in case you are one of the last people in the world who still needs a fax machine.

The Brother iPrint and Scan utility allows users to print and scan directly from their desktop. The package also includes tools to check printer status and optional applications for document control and mobile phone access. The installation process also generates a link to the Brother Creative Center on your desktop. The Creative Center can be used to create custom documents from templates.

The printer’s automatic document feeder, which is pretty essential for an office setup, only holds 20 sheets, so there’s no need to scan or photocopy the manuscripts of your epic novel. For most, this should be enough for the odd copy and scan we do these days.

Both printing and scanning of documents are fast and of high quality. The device can print documents and photos in A4/Letter size at up to 1200 x 4800 dpi. Scan resolution is up to 1200 x 2400 on the scanner glass and 1200 x 600 dpi when using the automatic document feeder.

There are two paper trays so you can load up to 400 sheets. The top tray is for plain and glossy paper, while the bottom tray is for plain paper only. Unfortunately, the printer didn’t like my thick 250gsm matte photo paper, which caused a paper jam when it was loaded into the tray. However, the glossy 250 gsm photo paper didn’t bother it. On the back of the printer there is a feeder for thicker paper if required.

Normal documents posed no problem for the printer and ensured fast and razor-sharp printing. I’ve had limited success with the Brother print app with high quality images. But I had no problem with Adobe Acrobat and was able to print very high resolution images on glossy 250gsm photo paper. However, it squeaks a little on the quality printer settings and takes considerably longer on images than on a plain document.

Scanning from the printer menu didn’t seem to work because the network printer could not be found. The Brother application worked but was a bit slow. Scanning worked fine in Adobe Photoshop with WIA support. The scanned images looked pretty good too.

Images can also be printed directly from a USB memory stick or mobile phone. There is a USB socket on the front of the printer and tapping the area shown with your phone will (on first use) install and launch the Brother Connect app. Documents and photos can then be selected and printed on the phone.

I found the multifunction inkjet printer to excel for general office tasks like printing and copying documents. But printing photos and scanning high-resolution images was a little tedious with a PC.

It is probably not really designed for high-quality image reproduction. However, a bit of fiddling will get you the right results. Printing photos from a phone was surprisingly effortless.

The Brother MFC-J4540DW is a good looking and feature rich multifunction printer that does its job very well as a home office device. It’s also very handy for quickly printing photos from your phone and the odd high-resolution image. Printouts are vibrant and accurate and scanned documents are clear, just what you want.

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