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Brother MFC-J5320DW review

Front left of the Brother MFC-J5320DW
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £106
inc VAT

The MFC-J5320DW is a cheap way to tackle any print, scan, copy or fax job a small firm might need

Printers have been getting surprisingly cheap, but the price tag on Brother’s MFC-J5320DW prompted a double-take. For not much over £100 this compact inkjet MFP can print, scan, copy and fax, all controlled via a colour touchscreen. You can share it over a wired or wireless network and scan directly to an inserted USB stick, or even to a cloud-based service such as Google Drive. It has a 35-page automatic document feeder (ADF), can automatically print on both sides of each page (duplex), and as if all that wasn’t enough it can even print on A3 paper.

Screenshot of the print driver's default settings, MFC-J5320dw

^ Everyday print options live on the driver’s Basic tab, while advanced options are sensibly tidied away

That’s some list, so it’s perhaps understandable if it feels like money has been saved elsewhere. This isn’t a pretty MFP, and its paper input tray feels particularly clattery and unpleasant to handle. To load it up with A3 paper you need to release a catch and extend it fully outwards, which is fiddly, while different paper sizes are loaded with different orientations, which could quickly get confusing. Although the USB port is concealed behind a flap, it’s next to an empty slot where the SD card reader would go on more expensive models.

Screenshot of Brother's smart, updated Android app, MFC-J5320dw

^ Brother’s redesigned Android app looks fresh, and remains easy to use

Fortunately, there’s plenty to like about this MFP. There are neat bits of design, such as the ADF lid which clicks shut, keeping out dust. Its touchscreen might not be the biggest and it doesn’t respond to swipe gestures, but it’s generally responsive and the menu system is clear – we particularly like the ability to add your own shortcuts. One frustration is that from an inserted USB drive you can only print photos: not PDF files or other office documents.

Screenshot of the web admin interface, MFC-J5320dw

^ There are advanced options in the web interface, but you have to dig around for them

While the printer’s 12.8 pages per minute (ppm) text speed wasn’t that impressive, 7.1ppm on our colour graphics test is quick for an inkjet at this price. It took only two and a half minutes to duplex 10 sides of graphics onto five pages, while copying a 10-page document took only 66 seconds in black, or 83 seconds in colour. Scans were very quick, with a preview completing in just 10 seconds, and a 300dpi A4 scan needing only 12 seconds. Even over an Ethernet connection, it took just 27 seconds to capture a 6×4″ photo at 1,200dpi.

Screenshot of the TWAIN interface, showing a scan preview of a recent Computer Shopper cover, MFC-J5320dw

^ Brother’s scan interface is a bit too basic: there’s no auto-exposure feature

There’s more good news when it comes to running costs. The MFC-J5320DW comes with ink cartridges rated for a reasonable 550 pages each, and you can replace them with XL items good for 2,400 black pages or 1,200 pages in each colour. Using these, costs work out at just 3.4p per page, of which the black component is just 0.8p. That’s extremely competitive for such a cheap device.

We weren’t expecting great results from this MFP, but for most purposes they were fine. Print quality certainly wasn’t bad on plain paper, with bold text and reasonably bright colours in graphics. Our scan tests revealed a slightly drab colour bias, and poor preservation of detail from among dark regions, but the results were good enough for general office work. This is far from the best MFP we’ve tested, but with its wealth of features, cheap price and low running costs we’d recommend it where value takes precedence over quality.

If this isn’t quite the printer for you then check out our regularly-updated Best printer 2015 – Our inkjet, laser and MFP top picks

TechnologyPiezo inkjet
Maximum print resolution1,200×6,000dpi
Maximum optical scan resolution (output bit depth)1,200×2,400dpi (24-bit)
Number of colours (cartridges)4 (4)
Maximum number of colours (cartridges)4 (4)
Quoted photo durability (source)Not stated
Standard interfacesUSB, USB host, Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n wireless
Optional interfacesNone
Dimensions (HxWxD)240x490x290mm
Duty cycle (pages per month)Not stated
Paper handling
Maximum paper sizeA3
Maximum paper weight220gsm
Standard paper trays (capacity)2 (251)
Maximum paper trays (capacity)2 (251)
Automatic Document Feeder capacity35
Photo features
Borderless printingA3
Direct (PC-less) printingUSB
Memory card supportNone
Supported operating systemsWindows XP or later, Mac OS X 10.7.5 or later, Android, iOS
Other features6.8cm colour touchscreen
Buying information
Price£106 inc VAT
Consumable parts and pricesLC229XL black 2,400 pages (ISO/IEC 24712) £19. LC225XL cyan, magenta, yellow, 1,200 pages each (ISO/IEC 24712) £10 each.
Quoted life of supplied black cartridge(s)550 pages (ISO/IEC 24712)
Quoted life of supplied colour cartridge(s)550 pages each (ISO/IEC 24712)
Cost per ISO/IEC 24712 A4 page inc VAT3.4p
Cost per ISO/IEC 24712 A4 page inc VAT (colour part)2.6p
Cost per ISO/IEC 24712 A4 page inc VAT (mono part)0.8p
Part codeMFCJ5320DWU1