Review: Brother MFC-J430W

A brilliant home printer/scanner/fax, with the only downsides its size and 9kg weight.

NameMultifunction printer: Brother MFC-J430W
At a glance:Best print quality in roundup,High print and scan speeds,Standalone fax functionality,Large and heavy
Summary:A brilliant home printer/scanner/fax, with the only downsides its size and 9kg weight.

The Brother MFC-J430W is the second-largest unit in our roundup at 9kg. Only the Epson Workforce 435 is heftier.

The printer is entirely matte black, apart from a piano-black panel in the centre of the scanner lid. The controls are simple, and feature a 1.9-inch colour LCD screen set at a fixed angle in the front. There are no awkward protrusions or edges; the whole thing is quite sleek despite its size and weight.

The MFC-J430W is the only model in our roundup to feature a totally internal paper tray; the ideal option for long-term paper storage if you’re not printing often.

Setup was easy and I connected the printer to my Wi-Fi network via WPS in less than a minute. Ink cartridges fit into a colour-coded and labelled slot accessible via a small hatch in the front of the printer.

Advertised print speeds are 33ppm (pages per minute) for draft monochrome, and 26ppm for draft colour. In our standard PC World printer tests, the MFC-J430W achieved a fast 10.9ppm for monochrome text and lineart, topped the speed tests in our March 2012 roundup at 9.4ppm for monochrome text and graphics, and was fastest overall at 5.7ppm for colour text and graphics. Full A4 photo prints averaged 4min 38sec per page, which only the two HP models (HP Deskjet 3070A, HP Photosmart 5510) in our roundup bested.

I experienced consistent issues feeding the last page from the paper tray – annoying when trying to print on glossy paper. The obvious fix for this is to insert more photo paper than you need, or to add it atop an existing stack of regular paper.

The MFC-J430W displays the best overall print quality in our roundup, with low noise, the highest colour accuracy for photo prints, and sharp text second only to the two HP models. Its blacks aren’t as deep as the Epson Stylus NX430, but it performed well for all print types.

With standard cartridges, print costs from the vendor’s ink-yield and page coverage estimates are 10 cents per black page and 30 cents per colour page. With extended cartridges, that drops to 6 cents per page mono and 20 cents per colour page. Upfront costs for a full set of ink cartridges are $90 standard, and $119 for the expanded tanks.

Like the Epson Workforce 435, Brother’s MFC-J430W features both a flatbed 1200 x 2400dpi scanner and a 15-page auto document feeder (ADF) for bulk scanning. Though we didn’t speed-test the ADF, single-page scans in the flatbed proved the fastest in the roundup across our three tests. 10 seconds per page at 300dpi settings for monochrome, 44 seconds per page at 600dpi in colour, and 2min 32sec per page at the top-end 1200dpi in colour.

Scanned images showed high colour accuracy and relatively sharp edges, with large-grain noise only visible at high magnification – it appears most prominently in darker areas.

Again like the Epson Workforce 435, the MFC-J430W can be connected directly to a phone line and will send and receive faxes independent of a PC.

Brother’s MFC-J430W is the second-most-expensive printer in the roundup at $150, but the best-overall performer in terms of speed, print quality, scan quality and ink cost. A clear editors’ choice if ever there was one, and the best choice for anyone that’s not concerned by the printer’s bulk and weight.

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Harley Ogier

Harley Ogier

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