The Brother MFC-J5620DW proves you can print big without paying big. In addition to providing some of the faster print times we've seen, the $149 all-in-one is the only one of the best all-in-one printers we've tested that can handle 11 x 17-inch, tabloid-size paper. Even if you do all your printing on normal 8.5 x 11-inch and smaller paper, the MGC-J5620 has a slew of compelling features, including a high-capacity tray.
The Brother MFC-J5620DW is the boxiest device we've tested and one of the heaviest, weighing 25 pounds and measuring 19.3 x 13.6 x 9.4 inches. Although it prints on tabloid sheets, it wasn't the biggest printer we've tested; the Epson XP-820 (19.1 x 10.4 x 16.8, 21.5 pounds) is 3 inches bigger; however, it's more than 3 pounds lighter.
The MFC-J5620DW saves some space by using sideways printing, meaning that pages are loaded perpendicular to the way they are usually inserted into a printer and the device prints from right to left instead of from top to bottom. At first, this seems odd, but it's one of those "Why didn't I think of that?" designs that makes a lot of sense.
There is also a multifunction tray on the back of the device that can hold up to 80 sheets of plain paper or accommodate different paper stocks. The 35-sheet automatic document feeder folds down into the printer to save space when you don't need it.
The front of the printer has a bright, 3.7-inch touch screen and soft-touch buttons. The on-screen menus make it relatively easy to configure Wi-Fi printing, which allows you to output from PCs, mobile devices and Brother's cloud services. It also provides access to some built-in features, such as two-sided ID copying, poster creating, book copying and business-template creation. You can also save shortcuts for scan, copy or fax settings.
Unfortunately, Brother makes it a little too difficult to connect a USB cable. Instead of putting the USB jack on the back of the printer, the cable instead routes inside, under the scanner plate, which has to be raised to reveal a cable slot. This effectively reduces your cable length by more than a foot. It's also a little too difficult to close the top of the device, thanks to a complicated lever that holds up the top of the printer and requires fussing to activate.
MORE: Best 3D Printers
The cable-routing issue made the Brother MFC-J5620DW more complex to set up for wired printing than any other printer we've tested. It was also more difficult than it should have been to insert the ink. In addition to a tab on the ink cartridge that needs to be taken off, there's a large, plastic tab inside the device that also must be removed.
Once the cartridges were installed and we hit the power button for the first time, it took 5 minutes and 21 seconds for the initial startup to complete and for the Brother to be ready to print, which is about average.
Brother doesn't bundle any major imaging software with the MFC-J5620DW; it just includes the Mac and Windows print and scanner drivers, which can also be downloaded from the Brother website.
The Brother MFC-J5620DW delivered solid print times that were usually in the middle of the pack and sometimes ahead of it. It printed a single page of black text on the Normal setting in 10 seconds, which is 3 seconds faster than the category average and also slightly ahead of the HP Envy 7640 and Epson XP-820.
Brother's all-in-one finished our five-page mixed graphics and text test in 4:41, which is 12 seconds faster than the category average. The Epson XP-820 was more than a minute faster, and the Canon Pixma MG7520 was nearly a minute slower.
The printer took a brisk 2 minutes and 33 seconds to output a full-page landscape photo — nearly twice as fast as the category average (4:25). However, the Canon MG7520 was more than 40 seconds faster.
Copy and Scan Speed
The MFC-J5620DW provides speedy scan and copy times that were well above average and sometimes fastest. It copied a black-and-white page on the Normal setting in 13 seconds — 9 seconds faster than the category average. The Canon Pixma MG7520 was nearly twice as fast, while the HP Envy 7640 took more than a minute longer.
When we ran our color copy test, the Brother MFC-J5620DW finished in 1:10, which is 8 seconds faster than the category average but a tad behind the Epson XP-820.
The MFC-J5620DW finished our black-and-white scanning test in 10 seconds — faster than any other all-in-one we've tested, and 30 seconds quicker than the category average.
The all-in-one completed our color scanning test in 19 seconds, which is nearly three times faster than the category average (53 seconds). Only the Epson XP-820 was faster.
Targeted more at home office users than at artists, the Brother MFC-J5620DW produces good-quality text and mixed text and graphics, but subpar photos. Competing printers like the Epson XP-820 and the Canon Pixma MG7520 offer better photographic output at the same price.
When we printed a landscape photo of a flower stand in front of a farm, the image delivered lackluster saturation and sharpness. The flower stand was oversaturated, with the wood appearing much too green. There was a lot less detail in the wood of the cabinet, the grain on the porch rails and the blades of glass than on the same photo printed with the MG7520 and XP-820.
A portrait shot of a boy on a bicycle lacked sharpness in the subject's eyes, the helmet strap and the detail on the edge of the helmet, all of which were much more detailed in photos printed by the Canon and Epson. The boy looked undersaturated and flat, with dull skin tones, but the seat of the bike trailer was oversaturated, making it appear a bit too red.
MORE: Top DSLR Cameras
Ink Cost and Yield
Brother has a low cost per page on color prints, but it's a bit pricier on black and-white pages. The company calls its print cartridges High Yield and Super High Yield.
The High Yield cartridges produce about 500 pages of black and about 550 pages for each color cartridge. With retail prices of about $20 for the black cartridge and $32 for a pack with all three colors, that comes out to rates of 4 cents and 6 cents per page — a good rate for color but a poor one for black. (In comparison, Canon's MG7520 comes out to less than a penny per page.)
The black Super High Yield print cartridge currently costs $35 and promises 2,500 pages — a rate of just 1.4 cents per page. A Super High Yield pack with all three colors goes for around $47 and is rated to produce 1,200 pages, for a cost of 4 cents per page — one of the lowest we've seen. In comparison, the Canon MG7520 and Epson XP-820 with high-capacity cartridges cost 12 and 10 cents per page of high-yield color, respectively.
The Brother MFC-J5620DW is a very good all-in-one printer, and the ability to print tabloid pages makes it the clear choice for businesses where 11 x 17 output is required. Its high-capacity paper tray and secondary tray make it more suitable for high-volume printing and office settings than some competitors, like the Epson Premium Expression XP-820 or Canon Pixma MG7520.
Unfortunately, the MFC-J5620DW's photo quality was inferior to that of the Epson and Canon printers. Although the Brother's print and scan times were solid, they usually weren't faster than its competitors' marks. However, if you need to do a lot of printing, require large paper output or want to save money when printing color photos, the Brother MFC-J5620DW is a strong choice.