print speed, USB, 10/100 Ethernet, 260x514x461mm
This hulking inkjet multifunction peripheral (MFP) from Brother is big for a reason: it's able to print on paper sizes up to A3. This flexibility makes it suitable for small businesses or home users who may appreciate the extra size for complex worksheets or graphics. It can also scan, and copy or send multi-page faxes using its 35-sheet ADF but, unlike some other models in Brother's line-up, these functions only work with paper up to A4 or Legal size.
It seems odd to pair a large printer with a smaller scanner, but the MFC-J5910DW is the cheapest of Brother's A3-capable inkjet MFPs, and it's still loaded with features. Users can connect via USB, wired or wireless networking, or print directly from a memory card using the colour touchscreen controls on the front panel. Considered alongside its fax capability, ADF and duplex (double-sided) A3 printing, that's a lot for the money.
Unfortunately, the MFC-J5910DW isn't the prettiest device, and it feels almost as cheap as it is. It's made from hard plastics that don't feel as pleasantly tactile as those found in typical home MFPs, while its large paper tray isn't especially easy to load and it slots in and out of the printer with a clatter. The colour screen is rather small, and although it's possible to angle it up for easier visibility, it's easy to push it back down again by mistake when tapping its controls. Like several other Brother inkjet MFPs, the USB and Ethernet ports are hidden away under the scanner bed, requiring a foot or so of extra cable just to reach them.
If it doesn't make the best first impression, the MFC-J5910DW makes a better case for itself in use. With the exception of slow photo printing it's a quick all-round device, printing more than 12 pages of text or more than four pages of colour graphics each minute. It's also comparatively quick when duplex printing on both sides of A4 paper, printing 10 colour sides onto five sheets of paper in less than four and a half minutes.
Brother’s print interface is clearly laid out and simple to use
Photocopies were similarly fast, with single-page copies from the scanner glass taking less than 20 seconds each, and a 10-page colour ADF copy completing in just two minutes and 24 seconds. High-resolution scans in particular were unusually fast for a network-attached device, with our 1,200dpi test completing in just 40 seconds – one of the quickest results we've seen.
It’s not the most sophisticated scan interface, but Brother’s TWAIN panel is easy to understand
Quality-wise, while universally competent, the MFC-J5910DW didn't excel in any area. Scans exhibited sharp focus, but suffered from a slightly cool colour bias and some noise suggestive of compression, most visible in areas of solid colours. Plain paper text and graphical prints were reasonable, although areas of saturated colour lacked vibrancy, while photocopies were good, particularly in mono.
It's common to find that the cheapest printers have the highest running costs, but Brother has created a notable exception. At 3.5p per page, colour prints from the MFC-J5910DW are inexpensive, while mono prints cost less than a penny per page. It may not feel special or perform with distinction, but this competent MFP is very good value to buy and run.