It used to be the case that if you wanted to print A3 pages, you had to pay through the nose for the privilege. Brother has steadily been driving down the cost of A3 printers and this model is one of the cheapest yet.
You can buy it online for around £110, but despite the low price, you get an impressive array of features including fax, scanning, copying and Wi-Fi connectivity.
Design and features
To print to A3 sheets, this model's chassis was always going to be large, so it's no surprise that this is a monster of a machine, measuring 514mm wide, 461mm deep and standing 260mm tall. Suffice to say, it's not the type of printer you can casually hide away in the corner of a home office. It's not pretty either, and the all-over dull matte black plastic gives it a harsh, industrial look.
The control panel is nicely lad out with large dedicated buttons for the fax, scan, copy and photo printing features positioned on the left-hand side, along with a numerical keypad for dialling fax numbers on the right. In between these two is a flip-up colour screen. This isn't a touchscreen but it has a section on the right-hand side with touch buttons for controlling the on-screen menus.
The front is home to a multi-format memory card reader as well as a PictBridge-compatible USB port, both of which are handy additions.
The bottom of the MFC-J5910DW houses the 250-sheet cassette-style paper tray. By default, this is set up for A4 sheets and slots all the way into the chassis. It can be extended out to fit A3 sheets, in which case it protrudes by about 12cm. Printed sheets are fed out into a telescopic tray that also doubles as the input tray's lid.
The slots for the ink cartridges are found behind a flap on the front-right -- they couldn't be much easier to install. The placement of the Ethernet and USB connectors is a tad weird as you have to lift up the scanner mechanism to get at them and then thread the cables through a channel and out the back, before closing the scanner mechanism down on top of them.
This model can be used over USB, Ethernet or Wi-Fi, so there's a good range of connection options. It's easy to install the printer to work with any of these, with the process guiding you through step by step.
Unlike the MFC-J6510DW, this printer doesn't have an A3-capable scanner and Automatic Document Feeder (ADF). Both the scanner and ADF are limited to accepting A4 sheets or smaller. The ADF is still very handy as it allows you to automatically fax or copy multi-page documents of up to 35 sheets in one go.
The scan quality is reasonably good as the amount of detail it captures is strong. However, colours aren't as accurate as they could be, exhibited in a slight blue-ish tinge. Nevertheless, the scanner is quick and this also helps it deliver photocopies at a relatively sprightly pace. For example, my black and white test sheet was copied in just 17 seconds, which is fairly fast for an inkjet model.
Print speed, quality and cost
The MFC-J5910DW is rapid when it comes to print speeds. My 10-page black and white text document took 1 minute 12 seconds to print, while a double-sided version of the same document took 1 minutes 46 seconds. It completed the 10-page colour graphics test in 1 minutes 15 seconds and took 2 minutes 11 seconds to complete my business presentation. An A3 photo took 6 minutes 21 seconds, which was faster than the more expensive MFC-J6510DW.
Print quality is just so-so on text, as the ink tends to run into the page, so characters aren't as crisply formed as they should be. Graphics output is pretty good, with the printer delivering bold colours and good levels of detail. As this is a four-ink model, photos don't have the subtlety on the colour front as dedicated photo printers that use more inks, but they still look quite good.
Print costs are very affordable, especially if you opt for the higher-capacity cartridges, which you'll definitely want to do if you plan on printing lots of larger A3 sheets. Using the high-capacity cartridge bought from Brother's website, a black and white A4 page works out at 2.1p, while a colour page comes in at 6.4p. Both of those prices include 0.7p for paper costs and are very reasonable for a model that costs around £100.
The MFC-J5910DW certainly doesn't deliver the last word in print quality. But it's remarkable that it offers A3 printing as well as scanning and faxing support for just a smidgen over a £100. If you're working to a tight budget, but need a machine to produce larger sheets, then it's the model to get, especially as its running costs are modest.