There aren't a whole lot of A3 printer-scanners on the market that are aimed at consumers, but despite this, Brother's MFC-J6510DW shows that you don't have to pay an arm and a leg to get your hands on an all-in-one printer that's capable of handling larger format paper sizes.
Available for around £145 online, not only does this multi-function model allow you to print and scan A3 pages, but it's also got fax and copying features on board.
Design and features
You get a lot for your money with the MFC-J6510DW. This is a big beast of a machine, measuring 540x489x257mm, so you're not going to be able to perch it on the end of your desk. The sheer scale of the thing means it's not exactly dainty, and the matte black finish doesn't help its aesthetic appeal.
As this is a multi-function model, its control panel offers more buttons than a space shuttle's flight console. The right-hand side of the panel houses the main four-way cursor pad, as well as the numerical keypad for dialling fax numbers. Next to this is a print cancel button, as well as dedicated buttons for black and white and colour photocopying.
A landscape screen that measures 77x30mm sits in the centre, and to the left of this are dedicated buttons for the fax, scan, copy and photo capture features. Brother has also added another keypad for storing quick-dial numbers for the fax function.
Just beneath the control panel is a PictBridge-compatible USB port as well as a SD and memory stick card reader, so you can print photos directly from camera or memory cards, without first having to transfer them to your computer.
Mindful of the already large size of this printer, Brother has sensibly made the bottom cassette paper tray telescopic. When you're not printing A3 sheets, the tray can be reduced in size, allowing it to completely slide into the body of the machine. This tray can take up to 250 sheets of paper at a time. However, this model doesn't have a secondary tray, so you have to empty the main tray when you want to print photos.
Sitting on top of the scanner is a 35-sheet automatic document feeder so you can scan or copy multi-page documents without having to manually place each sheet on the scanner's surface. Also, it can scan full A3-sized sheets, which will be handy for some people.
Setting up this model is very straightforward. Just open the flap on the front-left of the printer, insert the four ink cartridges and then load the drivers onto your PC. The printer can be used directly via USB. Alternatively, you can hook it into your network using either Wi-Fi or Ethernet.
Scanning, faxing and photocopying
Like this machine's print engine, its scanner can also work with A3 pages, so you can produce direct one-to-one copies of larger documents. The scanner has a resolution of 19,200x19,200 dpi and scans generally looked pretty crisp and clear, which also helped this machine to deliver good quality copies.
The copier function took 20 seconds to complete a copy of our A4 test sheet, which is not particularly fast. The fax functions are standard, but the automatic document feeder is a great time saver when faxing multi-page documents. The quick-dial keys are handy if you regularly have to fax a lot of documents to the same numbers.
Print speeds are fairly good by inkjet standards. It took 1 minute 14 seconds to produce my 10-page black and white text document and 2 minutes 42 seconds for a double-sided version of the same document. My 10-page graphics test document was completed in 2 minutes 30 seconds, while it took 2 minutes 17 seconds to deliver my 10-page business presentation.
Photo printing is slow, however. It worked on a 4x6-inch snap for 1 minute 7 seconds, whereas most inkjets are capable of printing this type of photo in around 40 seconds. Printing an A3 picture at the best quality was also slow, taking 8 minutes 24 seconds.
Print quality for graphics is actually impressive. There was no discernible banding on my business presentation. And while colours could have been a tad more vivid on my graphics test sheet, the detail and sharpness levels were good. Photo print-outs also look impressive for a four-ink model.
However, text quality isn't quite as good as I would have liked. Text looks a little light on the page and letters aren't as cleanly formed as on the best inkjet models.
If you shop around for ink cartridges, you can actually get them for quite reasonable prices. As a result, print costs are very low. For example, a black and white page works out at around 1.7p, while a colour page comes in at 5.4p.
The MFC-J6510DW does a great job of printing graphics and photos on A4 as well as large A3-sized sheets. It has an abundance of features and it's reasonably cheap to run and quick to use. I find it hard to fault an all-in-one A3 printer and scanner at this price, especially when it handles printing tasks so well.