About a year ago in an effort to reduce costs, my small business employer decided to trade in the lease on our brute Canon Office Copier/Printer. It did all the things you would expect an office copier to do, like; print at high speed and scan/copy up to 11×17 (Ledger). An 8 cylinder/4 barrel, by any definition. It was replaced with a petite Canon machine that holds its own, but often sounds like a 4 cylinder towing a boat, going uphill. One big downside is it can only copy/scan/print at up to 8.5 x 14 (Legal), which is a big problem for me as I often copy/print engineering drawings which are always Ledger size. One other problem that I haven’t been able to conquer is the machine’s resistance to making copies of 110lb index stock from the manual feed tray. I’ve tried curling, bending edges, doing anything I can to get the heavy stock to feed, but I usually waste as much or more material than I successfully print. Not to mention the sprints back and forth between my machine and the printer, and the marked increase in blood pressure during the process. It was time to do something about it.
I saw an advertisement for a new line of Brother inkjet printers around the same time we replaced our office machine, touting 11×17 print capability from a standard tray. I’ve never owned or used a Brother printer, but was intrigued by the idea. With several new engineering drawing on the way, I decided it was time to solve this problem. I looked over all the models, most with fairly similar specs, but settled on the MFC-J6920DW. What Brother calls a business class machine. That basically means it has two paper trays (250 sheets each) and can handle a larger monthly volume.
The MFC-J6920DW is jam packed with features. It starts with a 3.7” color touch display that connect you to; Facebook, Flickr, Picasa, GoogleDrive, Evernote, Dropbox, Box and OneDrive. It is also compatible with Mobile drevices via; AirPrint, Google Cloud Print, Wi-Fi Direct, Brother iPrint & Scan (available for Windows Phone) and Cortado Workplace. Scan resolution tops out at 2400 x 2400 dpi. The auto document feeder can handle up to 35 sheets of paper as wide as 11.7”. Prints speeds of 35 ppm Black and 27 ppm Color are possible in fast mode. You can connect to the printer via; USB, Ethernet, Wireless (802.11b/g/n), Wi-Fi Direct and NFC. The J6920 has two paper trays, each capable of hold 250 sheets of paper, up to 11” x 17”. The bypass tray can also handle up to 11” x 17” stock. The scanner glass, at 11.7” x 17”, is huge enough for those big projects. A 2 year Limited Warranty rounds out the features of this versatile ink jet printer.
Setup was really easy. No packing materials or orange tape on the printer. No assembly required. The 4 ink tanks load from the front of the machine, behind a door on the right side. There is an orange print head “transport holder” that Brother suggests you save (there is a storage bay in the machine belly) in case you plan to store or move the machine long distances. Once the ink is loaded, the printer starts its setup process which takes several minutes. But so does loading paper into the somewhat complex paper trays the first time.
As noted, the printer has two 250 sheet paper trays. They can both handle anything from 4×6 photo prints to 11×17 Ledger paper. As the printer is wide format, 8.5×11 Letter size paper feeds from the long edge, although Legal and Ledger paper feeds from the short edge. In order to use the two larger paper formats though, you need to extend the paper trays. Unlike extended trays I have used on HP Laserjets, these trays are flush to the back (where the paper is fed into the machine, and they extend out the front of the printer. Fully extended, the paper tray will stick out about 9” beyond flush with the front of the machine. I loaded the top tray with standard Letter size paper, which sits in the back of the tray. The top tray also has a slide out paper holder to keep printed sheets from falling on the floor. I setup the bottom tray for Ledger paper. Moving all the levers and sliders was a bit of a task, but I don’t expect to have to do it again. Note that these paper trays are NOT high end office class HP Laserjet quality. Actually, a bit flimsy when you load 250 sheets of Ledger size paper (better use two hands). But remember, this is not a $1.000 printer. So, not that big a surprise. If you will need to fill your trays every day though, buy a better printer.
Once I had the two trays loaded with paper, a test page spit out without prompting. The 3.7” color touch display asked if the patterns looked ok, which they did. At that point the printer (as a copier) was good to go. I tapped the Wi-Fi icon on the display and after selecting my network and entering my passphrase, Wi-Fi was up and running. Easy as it gets.
The next challenge was installing drivers and software on my PC. I usually never do this, but I chose the “Install Everything” option from the install disc. As soon as it finished I knew I made a mistake. Aside from the basic drivers and a Brother Scan Utility, the disc loaded a bunch of software from Nuance. I have no idea what it all does, but I suddenly had four different apps loading in my Startup screen. I went on the attack, deleting everything from Nuance, which required a reboot after disabling the services that were already running. With that out of the way, it was time to test printing and scanning in both directions. The printer was assigned one of those WSD ports, which wasn’t going to work for me. After logging in to the printer web portal, I changed the IP address to match a fixed address that I set on our office router, and created the port on my machine. Printing and scanning worked in both directions. All was good. Almost.
After testing everything I noticed that the Node Name was some unrecognizable cluster of letters and numbers. So I decided to change it to the printer model number. That was a mistake. As soon as I made the change, the printer lost the ability to scan in either direction although printing was still working. After several frustrating attempts the Brother Troubleshooter gave me instructions for removing, rebooting and reinstalling the software. This time I selected a Custom install, loading only the drivers and scan tool. All connected perfectly and as I made no changes to the printer itself, the web interface verified that the IP address and the Node Name remained the same.
I haven’t tried printing multiple copies to test speed, but startup and single sheet prints go rather quick. Copying large Ledger size pages was equally as quick, spitting out printed sheets in a few seconds. The ADF tray is huge at 11.7” wide, and long enough for Ledger paper. Overall, this printer is about what I expected. And exactly what I needed for my in office needs. Of course though, nothing is perfect. When scanning, loading a portrait Letter size page under the glass scans just fine and crops out all the white space on the large 11.7” x 17” glass. But if you scan a page that’s landscape, or scan a Ledger size sheet, it displays at a 90 degree angle in Adobe Reader. Turning a landscape page to only fill the top of the scanner glass, leaves a full 8.5” of while space at the bottom of the scan. Although I can rotate the image with my PDF Pro software, it would be easier to do during the scan. Our Canon Printer/Copier has an option to scan as landscape or portrait. Simple enough. Hope a future software update fixes this issue. Another problem. The printer has a single sheet feeder on the back of the machine. Convenient for that heavy 110lb stock. But, you can only feed a single sheet at a time, which in itself is a problem. You also can’t select the tray for printing from the desktop software, which means you need to load a sheet in the sheet feeder before you select a print job. After you send the job, say for three sheets, you have to pull the first sheet out a bit (if you push it in without a print job loaded it shoots through the printer), set it back in, pushing down so it grabs, pressing OK on the touch display. And then load another sheet and repeat. And repeat again. Lots of work.
The list price on the MFC-J6920DW is $299. But you can find it for $199 on Amazon, or $229 at Staples. That’s a great deal for a wide format, small footprint printer. Even if you don’t need to print large sheets everyday, it’s nice to know you can.