Tag: T.37 fax-over-email

Product Review–Brother MFC-J4710DW colour multifunction inkjet printer


The Brother MFC-J4710DW colour multifunction printer that I am reviewing is based on a new paper-feed concept where the paper is fed through the machine by the long edge and marked across the long edge when the document is printed, which would be described as being “landscape orientation”. The key advantages of this design yield a relatively compact machine compared to most desktop inkjet printers which are much deeper as well as a quicker turnaround when the document is printed.

I am reviewing the MFC-J4710DW which is the top of the line model in this series and this has two paper trays as well as Wi-Fi networking. Lesser models like the MFC-J4510DW have a single paper tray as well as omitting the single-pass duplex automatic document feeder. The cheapest models like the MFC-J4410DW also have a slower print speed for those who don’t value the quick turnaround.

Brother MFC-J410DW sideways-print multifunction inkjet printer

Print Scan Copy Fax /
Paper Trays Connections
Colour Colour Colour Colour 2 x A4 USB 2.0
Piezoelectric Ink-jet 2400dpi Optimised book copy, ID copy, duplex copy Super G3 Multi-purpose tray with A3 capability Ethernet, 802.11g/n Wi-Fi
Auto-duplex Single-pass duplex  ADF T.37 Internet fax, scan to email IPv6



Recommended Retail Price: AUD$299


Standard High-Capacity
Price Pages Price Pages
Black AUD$30 600 AUD$37 1200
Cyan AUD$24 600 AUD$34 1200
Magenta AUD$24 600 AUD$34 1200
Yellow AUD$24 600 AUD$34 1200


The printer itself

Brother MFC-J410DW sideways-print multifunction inkjet printer - loaded deck view with lengthways document output

Loaded deck view with lengthways document output

As I mentioned before, the Brother MFC-J4710DW prints along the long edge of the A4 sheet of paper. There are two paper trays so you can use different media types or sizes like A4 and A5 or letterhead and regular paper.

Installation and setup

Brother MFC-J4710DW sideways-print multifunction inkjet printer USB and Ethernet connections

USB and Ethernet connections under scanner bed

Like with the previously reviewed Brother MFC-J6910DW, this printer uses a cavity in the top of the machine under the scanner bed for connecting USB or Ethernet cables. This is different to the common practice of having these connections on the back of the printer and may impede in having them easily accessible if you wish to move the machine between different locations. Of course, the power and telephone connections are kept easily accessible.

For network connectivity, this printer supports Ethernet and 802.11g/n Wi-Fi connectivity. It also is ready for IPv6 networks which are becoming the norm for business networks and will become the norm with the next-generation broadband Internet.

Brother NFC-J4710DW sideways-print multifunction inkjet printer print cartridges

Print cartridges loaded from the front

Like the other inkjet multifunction printers that Brother offers and the newer HP OfficeJet small-business Inkjet printers, this printer has you load the cartridges via the front of the machine. This is a method which I applaud because you don’t have to lift a lid to change the ink cartridges when you run out of ink and this printer doesn’t require much effort to remove or insert the cartridges. It didn’t require much effort to load the cartridges in the printer which would work well with its useability.

Walk-up functions – can be started from printer’s control surface

I have done a few copying jobs with this printer and have found that it could benefit from a few improvements when it comes to locating the document on the glass platen for copying.

Here, you have to have the markings for where you locate the documents for scanning and copying in a contrasting colour so you can find where to position that document.

As well, the automatic document feeder can appear to be confusing for the unitiatied especially when it comes to locating the document. Here, you have to make sure that it is between the light-grey document guides and this issue may also be of concern with printers that use ultra-compact automatic document feeders. As well, the pages that are finished with are appear to be on top of the pages that are yet to be scanned which can be very confusing when you wish to remove pages that are finished with and / or add more pages to the job during a scan or copy of a large document.

It has copying features like optimised book copy, “copy to A3” and ID copy which are features I would start to expect from most copying devices. The optimised book copy feature worked very well when I was doing some copying of recipes from some cookbooks for someone who was cooking these recipes at another kitchen. It was also very accurate when it came to copying the documents.

The Brother MFC-J4710DW supports Super G3 colour faxing over the regular telephone line and has the expected capabilities of a business fax machine. As well, you can download a free add-on from Brother’s Website to enable it to become an endpoint for T.37 “fax-via-email” services. This includes the ability to forward faxes received via email to regular fax machines that don’t support this technology using the phone line.

Brother MFC-J410DW sideways-print multifunction inkjet printer memory card slots and USB port

Memory card slots and USB walk-up-printing / device-charging port

There is of course memory card slots and a USB port to facilitate “walk-up” printing of images and PDF documents from USB thumbdrives or memory cards. This also has the ability to print from PictBridge-capable cameras, but can work as a charging point for your smartphone, tablet or other gadgets even when the printer is in a quiescent standby mode.  These are hidden behind a black drop-down flap on the front of the printer.

Web-based services

Brother supports integration with the popular Web-hosted storage, photo-sharing and social-networking services with this printer. This setup operates in a manner which I like and I was pleased with it after I tested it with my Facebook account to print 2 images from an album of mine.

Here, you don’t have to enter your login parameters in to the device, which avoids using a small touchscreen keyboard for this effort. Instead, you use the Brother Web Connect page to enrol your printer with the cloud storage, social network or other service you have your account with. Once you log in to your service, a user interface will come up to ask you whether to allow this software and service to have access to your resources and those resources you are entitled to have access to. Then, if you give the go-ahead, you are given a temporary registration number which you key in to your printer on its control surface.

Then, at the printer, you select “Web” then select the service you want to use and touch the “Register/Delete” option. This is where you key in this registration number and give the account a known name and have the option to set a PIN to prevent unauthorised access to the account. With the photo-sharing services and the social networks, you have the ability to print out the pictures or download them to removeable media that is plugged in to the printer. As well, you can scan or upload the pictures to the photo sharing service or social network.

If you use Dropbox, Evernote or a similar service, you also have the ability to turn out hard copy of PDF documents and scan hard copy documents to these services as PDF files. Personally, I would like to see the ability to upload PDFs from removeable media that is plugged in to the printer.

It is one of a few method that I would like to see for linking users’ accounts on Web-based services with devices like printers or consumer-electronics devices in order to benefit from these services. Here, it exploits the reduced user interfaces that these devices typically have such as a numeric keypad or a D-pad by avoiding the need to “pick” letters on a virtual keyboard or be nimble with the numeric keypad for text entry when you sign in to Facebook, Picasa or Dropbox from one of these devices.

As for loading images from a Facebook album, it can take a bit of time to show up the pictures from that album but the pictures were gradually loaded one by one. But once you chose the pictures to print, the print duration was very similar to what I would expect for turning out photos.

Working with mobile devices

As for working with a mobile device, the Brother MFC-J4710DW printer worked properly with the iPrint&Scan mobile app on my Android phone. This was more so when it came to turning out photos or PDFs held on that phone.

There is also native support for Apple’s AirPrint technology as well as Google Cloud Print technology which can go a long way with printing from the iOS and Android devices.

Computer functions

Although I use the latest driver software from Brother’s Web site rather than what was on the CD in the box. I had found that the software had loaded very quickly without noticeable issues on my Windows 8 computer.

The ControlCenter 4 desktop-scan software could benefit from a “continuous scan” option available not as a custom setting but as an option immediately selectable from the scanning screen. HP’s desktop scanning software has the option to add pages offered as a default option and you click “Finish” to have the file completed and saved at the end of a scan job. Here, this would come in handy when you manually scan multi-page documents using the scanner platen due to factors like odd paper sizes, bound material or fragile documents; or pass a large multi-sheet document through the automatic document feeder.

The scanning procedure was very quick and accurate and performed properly even when I was scanning some very old fragile documents to PDF files.

As for the print driver, this software didn’t show any unnecessary dialogue boxes or pop-up messages during the printing procedure.

Print quality and reliability observations

Brother MFC-J410DW next to a regular multifunction inkjet printer

This printer takes up less desk space compared to a conventional inkjet multifunction printer

A 30-page printout on one side of the paper had yielded a quick reliable turnout but the colour may not appear to be as accurate as it should be for the printout. The high-speed turnout was brought on by the ability to work along the long edge of the paper.

A test that I do with printers that have auto-duplex facilities is to have the printer print a “download-to-print” door-hanger campaign document master on both sides of the paper using this function. Here, I look for any shift between the front and the back of the document so as to determine whether the duplexer mechanism is causing any unwanted shifting between the front and back of the document which may concern those of us who are using this function as part of creating odd-shaped desktop publishing projects like bookmarks, luggage tags or door hangers. I had noticed a very slight shift between the back of the document is slightly forward on the long edge compared to the front when I completed this test on this Brother printer.

Landscape document output on the Brother printer compared to the portrait document output on an orthodox  multifunction printer

Landscape document output on the Brother printer compared to the portrait document output on an orthodox multifunction printer

The Brother MFC-J4710DW also had passed the reliable printing test where I had it print a 90-page PDF using auto-duplex. This was important because a lot of people may think that the “long-edge” printing may be too “cutting-edge” to be considered reliable in a first-generation implementation of this technology. It has successfully completed the test without causing any worries.

When I printed out the test photos on the glossy paper, I noticed a strong yellow overtone on the pictures which was noticeable on the white parts of the image. As well, the flesh tones tended to become a bit more red. There also wasn’t much of the sharpness and definition in the images. I had done this test using the “best” settings for the printer driver rather than the normal settings and it may be a driver-specific issue. When it came to turning out images from the Internet using the printer’s control panel, there wasn’t much of that yellow overtone.

I had to use the manual bypass slot at the back of the printer to load the glossy paper sheets and this required me to load each sheet one at a time. Here, I was able to see the “long-edge” printing feature in action when it came to handling the pictures.

The big question that is likely to be asked about the Brother MFC-J4710DW and its peers is whether the “sideways print” / “long-edge print” / landscape print technology is too “cutting-edge” for reliable operation? Personoally, I had found this to be reliable for a first-generation implementation of this setup.

Limitations and Points Of Improvement

The Brother MFC-J4710DW could benefit from a few extra features and these may be issued with subsequent-generations of this print setup.

One feature that would come a long way would be to allow more than one sheet of paper to be in the manual feed slot for situations where you may be printing many multi-page documents on A3 or special media.

It could also benefit from a document rest that automatically extends and retracts in a similar way to what happens with the HP Envy printers. This can keep the printer having that compact shape that it is known for/

The on-device software could benefit from a few useability improvements. For example, the Web Connect functionality could allow for searching or sorting “other users” on a social network when you are hunting down pictures to print from a “friend’s” album.

The other issue that is of concern not just with this machine but with all of the network-enabled multi-function printers that have fax ability is to support Internet-based time synchronisation. Here, you could just then determine what time zone you are in and the printer sets its clock for you automatically like what happens with most desktop and mobile computer operating systems. Similarly, a lot of these printers could benefit from increased memory or flash memory in order to allow for efficient copy, fax and “walk-up” printing functionality as well as being able to maintain its own network print queue.

Conclusion and Placement Notes

Brother MFC-J4710DW sideways-print multifunction inkjet printerI would recommend that the Brother MFC-J4710DW or its peers be considered as an option when you are considering a general-purpose desktop multifunction printer for the small business, professional’s office or a home office. This is especially where space is at a premium or a large desktop multifunction printer doesn’t look the part in your office space’s aesthetics.

The cheaper models may work well if you are on a budget and don’t place value on printing speed or simply have a high-end laser printer serving your high-speed printing needs.

Product Review–Brother MFC-J6910DW A3 multifunction printer


Previously, I reviewed Brother’s first A3 multifunction printer, the MFC-6490CW, which was one of the first multifunction-class printer that can turn out documents on this large paper size. Estate agents, architects and the like have been licking their lips at these machines because of the availability of a compact desktop multifunction printer that can print out those building plans on the sizes of paper they are accustomed to for these documents.

Since then, HP had introduced a single-tray A3-printing multifunction in the form of the OfficeJet 7500a but Brother have worked further on the idea of A3 printing in the small office which I had talked about in my industry interview with them. This has manifested in the latest run of A3 multifunction printers which the MFC-J6910DW that I am reviewing represents as the fully-equipped model.

There are cheaper versions of this model that neither support duplex scanning nor have a touchscreen LCD display. As well the cheapest model in the range, the MFC-J5910DW can only scan A4 pages where as the other single-tray unit, the MFC-J6510DW can scan A3 pages. The model just below this unit, the MFC-J6710DW has the two paper trays and can scan A3 pages. But they all can do things like print on both sides of A3 pages.

This machine is infact the printer that was used in Brother’s latest TV-commercial series about using A3 paper as a tool to “expand your business horizons”. This is to use the paper size to realise more impact with customers or business partners by benefiting from larger text or room for detail. It may be also worth looking at this article that I wrote on making more use of A3  and similar sizes in the office when you read this review.

North-American readers should think of Ledger paper when I mention A3 paper in this review because of the fact that the paper sizes are just about the same and this printer can scan and print on this paper size. It will also scan double-sided on Letter or Legal paper, which is similar in size to A4 paper.

Brother MFC-J6910DW A3 inkjet multifunction printer

Print Scan Copy Fax /
Paper Trays Connections
Colour Colour Colour Colour 2 x A3 USB 2.0
Piezo-action Ink-jet 2400dpi resolution ID copy
Optimised book copy,
Super G3 Multi-purpose tray Ethernet, 802.11g/n WPS Wi-Fi
Auto-duplex Single-pass duplex ADF – duplex for A4 onlyA3 scanning T.37 email-based faxing (requires free
download from Brother)
IPv6 ready



Recommended Retail Price: AUD$379


Standard High-Capacity
Price Pages Price Pages
Black $39.95 600 $53.95 2400
Cyan $27.00 600 $33.95 1200
Magenta $27.00 600 $33.95 1200
Yellow $27.00 600 $33.95 1200

The printer itself

Setup and Network Connectivity

Brother MFC-J6910DW A3 inkjet multifunction printer - data connections

Where to plug in the USB or Ethernet cable for wired connections

If you are connecting the Brother MFC-J6910DW printer to your computer or network using Ethernet or USB, you have to open the access lid and snake the cable through to sockets installed within the printer chassis. But the phone connections for the fax functionality; as well as the power connection are exposed connections on the left side of the printer. This can be very daunting for people used to a group of sockets on the back of the printer.

The printer works with wired and Wi-Fi networks and is future-proof with IPv6, as expected for a business printer. It does support expected Wi-Fi setup functions like WPS “one-touch” setup.

Walk-up functions

The ability to print directly from the memory card or a digital camera works properly but the paper reserve you can use is whatever is loaded in the upper tray or manual feed slot. I would like to see this improved by allowing one to select whichever paper tray to use or if they print using PictBridge, the printer checks both paper trays for the specified paper size and type.

It has the expected copy functions, with the ability to enlarge an A4 document to A3 which is commonly expected of A3 copying devices. This is done by setting the Enlarge function to 141% and setting the paper size to A3. The ID copy function is very tricky to operate for new users because you have to use the “N-in-1” option to set the ID copy for the job. As well users wouldn’t know where to place the identification document to be copied for each side of that document.

As far as copy fidelity goes, the copies come out slightly paler than the original. It also doesn’t use the memory to quickly scan subsequent pages using the automatic document feeder while the copies are being turned out.

The fax functionality supports Super G3 faxing with colour over regular phone lines as well as T.37-compliant fax over email. This IP-based “fax-over-email” functionality is limited to handling A4-sized monochrome documents. At the moment, this function is enabled through a free download program from Brother’s support Webpage for this unit.

Brother MFC-J6910DW A3 multifunction inkjet printer control panel

Control panel with touchscreen

This printer is equipped with a full-duplex automatic document feeder that scans both sides of the page at the same time, rather than reversing the paper over a roller to expose the other side for scanning. The main benefits that I have seen from this is that the documents are scanned very quickly and the ADF is more reliable because there isn’t any extra paper handling involved. This feature is only avaliable for A4 or smaller documents.

Computer functions

I would prefer that you download the latest driver software for your computer’s operating system from Brother’s Website for this printer rather than install the software that comes on the supplied CDs; as I have preferred when new computer hardware is installed. This is more so with this unit because when I installed the driver software from the CDs on to my Windows 7 PC, there was a weird error message towards the end of the install routine and the driver wasn’t in place.

During printing, the software runs very lean and isn’t demanding on your computer’s resources. Even if you start a scan job from the MFC-J6910DW’s control panel, there isn’t much demand on the computer for the necessary scan monitor software. For that matter, a duplex scan job had both pages on the hard disk simultaneously. As well, you can set the printer up to scan to network (or Internet) storage resources as long using standard file-transfer protocols.

The Brother print driver’s user interface still has that excellent “at-a-glance” view of the settings that you have specified for that print job. This is something that I have seen consistently with all of Brother’s printers since I reviewed the HL-4150CDN colour laser printer.

Use with Brother iPrint&Scan (Android)

If you use the Brother MFC-J6910DN with the Brother iPrint&Scan mobile-printing app, you can print PDFs and photos from your device. It can accept A3 print jobs if the document is a PDF.

But, as I have seen from my Android copy of this program, the program’s current version doesn’t support printing of photos on A3 paper, nor does it support duplex and booklet printing for PDF documents. On the other hand, this app can scan both sides of a document that passes through the duplex automatic document feeder.

Paper and ink handling

Brother MFC-J6910DW ink cartridges

Ink cartridges loaded up front on this printer

This Brother MFC-J6910DW multifunction printer, like the other Brother inkjet printers and the HP OfficeJet 8500a Plus allows you to change the ink cartridges by opening a door on the front rather than lifting a heavy scanner lid. But because the printer, like other Brother and Epson inkjet printers uses piezoelectric inkjet technology, you have to make sure you  have a spare cartridge on hand when it lets you know it is low on ink for that cartridge and be ready to replace the cartridge when the ink volume looks very low. This is to avoid a loss of print quality due to airlocks in the ink system.

It can handle heavy print runs, including auto-duplex print runs, without failing. The auto-duplex function works to the edge for A4 and lower paper sizes but requires a margin at the top and bottom of an A3 document. This can be of concern when you use this function to print out A4-size booklets on A3, which it still can do well.

I would like to see Brother add some improvements concerning the ability to use the lower tray for photo-paper or poster-print jobs. Similarly there could be the ability to load the manual feed tray at the back with up to ten sheets of paper and have that considered as a separate paper source. This can improve the workflow for multi-page photo prints or poster-print jobs.

Print quality

The Brother MFC-J6910DW yields very sharp text from regular document print jobs, but some spot colours don’t come out strong on plain paper. I even printed the PDF file of the London Tube and Rail Map on A3 as a test to assess its prowess with complicated maps, plans and diagrams and it did yield a crisp image with legible station-name text. This is because a lot of users who buy this printer will be making it turn out those floor plans, maps and similar diagrams on to big sheets of A3 or Ledger paper as part of their livelihood.

Brother MFC-J6910DW A3 inkjet multifunction with A3 pages

This unti does scan and print A3 pages

When you print photos on this Brother printer, the pictures yield a darker contrast and don’t exhibit strong colour saturation. If the picture is of a person, the flesh tones don’t come out very pale.

Limitations and Points Of Improvement

The Brother MFC-J6910DN has could benefit from improved advanced-copy functions like an easy-to-use ID-copy function with marked out “master areas” for this function on the edge of the scanning glass. It could also benefit from a user interface that can support “one-touch-copy” functions for particular common tasks like A4-A3 enlargement, A3-A4 reduction or ID copy.

As I have said before, this printer can benefit from flexible paper handling options like the use of both trays for special-printing jobs or the ability to feed multiple sheets of paper in the manual feed slot on the back of the unit.

People who have used HP and Canon printers may find that the Brother MFC-J6910DW, like other Brother printers, misses out on “stationery-cupboard-in-a-box” printing functionality like “Quick Forms”. This is where the printer can print out paper like checklists, calendars, ruled notepaper or graph paper by you operating functions on the control panel. Some of us may consider it an unnecessary frill but it can come in handy if you need ruled paper at a moment’s notice.

This Brother A3 printer, like nearly all home, SOHO and small-business printers, could benefit from being able to use commonly-available SD cards as upgradable high-capacity system memory. Here this could allow for quick fail-safe printing, faxing and copying from these devices, with the ability to upgrade the memory for those devices that have higher workloads. It is also more relevant with this printer as it handles A3-size documents which will typically be graphics-rich.

Conclusion and Placement Notes

This current series of Brother A3 multifunction printers has what it takes to bridge the A3 paper size to the multifunction printer. I would recommend the Brother MFC-J5910DW as a general office printer for work environments that are cutting their teeth on the large paper sizes. An example of this is the cafe owner who is wanting to get started with double-sided A3 “specials lists” that they attach to those plate-glass windows.

The MFC-J6510DW would work well as a complementary A3 scan-copy-print “specialist” printer alongside that colour-laser multifunction printer which is serving as your A4 document workhorse.

But I would specify the Brother MFC-J6910DW as an “all-round” document workhorse for people who have fully cottoned on to A3. I would even team this with the Brother HL-4150CDN colour laser printer if you want a “two-box” full print solution for quickly turning out short-order flyers and other high-volume short-order A4 work. The less-expensive MFC-J6710DW could also answer the “all-round” document workhorse if you are willing to forego A4 duplex scanning or a nice touchscreen.

Product Review–Brother MFC-9840CDW colour laser multifunction printer


I am reviewing the Brother MFC-9840CDW colour laser multifunction printer which is pitched as a general high-throughput document “workhorse” for a small to medium business.

Brother MFC-9480CDW colour laser "document centre"

Print Scan Copy Fax /
Paper Trays Connections
Colour Colour Colour Colour 1 x A4 USB
Laser Xerographic 2400dpi Super 3G fax Optional high-capacity A4 tray Ethernet
802.11g WPA2 WPS wireless
Auto-Duplex Double-side automatic document feeder POP3/SMTP email-based fax (T.37)



RRP: $1599

Optional Extras:

High-capacity secondary paper tray: $299

Inks and Toners

Standard High-Capacity
Price Pages Price Pages
Black $112.95 2000 $171.95 5000
Cyan $131.95 1500 $258.95 4000
Magenta $131.95 1500 $258.95 4000
Yellow $131.95 1500 $258.95 4000
Drum Kit $356.95 17000
Belt Kit $179.95 50000
Waste Toner Kit $29.95 20000

The printer itself

Network connectivity

This machine can connect to a network using Ethernet cable or 802.11g Wi-Fi wireless. When you enter the WPA-PSK network password, you can use the numeric keypad to enter it “SMS-style”. I have tested it on Wi-Fi wireless and it hasn’t “gone off the radar” on the network even if it goes in to energy-save mode. Still, I would prefer printers like this one to be connected to am Ethernet or HomePlug powerline network rather than using a wireless network.

User interface

The printer uses a bitmap monochrome display which is backlit using a white light and it can make the display easier to read. As well, the typefaces for the display are easy to read even for people with limited sight. The keyboard is also laid out in a logical manner and is easy to read.

Brother MFC-9840CDW Control panel

Control panel

Brother MFC-9840CDW control panel with LCD lit

Control panel with LCD display lit - easy to read

Fax functionality and IP-faxing

The unit has regular support for Super G3 colour faxing over the regular telephone line service to a standard of a business-class fax machine.  This unit can only accept fax documents from the scanner or a computer which uses the “print-to-fax” driver supplied by Brother.

It has inherent support for email-based (T.37) IP-fax operation as well as regular Super G3 colour faxing over phone lines. This is whether it works as a receiving / transmitting endpoint or as an “off-ramp” to regular fax machines. Users can enter their destination email addresses from the control panel by using the numeric keypad in a manner similar to entering text on a mobile phone. But, as I have mentioned before in the Brother interview and an article on IP-based faxing, this feature is very hard to provision and use. The owner needs to establish a separate email address for best results as well as know the SMTP and POP3 details for their email service. Also, at the moment, it doesn’t support any colour “fax-over-email” functionality because as far as I know, this standard doesn’t have any support for colour transmissions.

When you fax from the unit, there is twenty buttons for one-touch dialling but there is also a “shift” key to gain access to a further twenty fax numbers for one-touch dialling. This also works in addition to a large “speed-dial” registry for other regularly-used fax numbers. This registry can also handle email addresses for T.37-compliant IP-based faxing as an alternative to regular telephone numbers.

Printing colour photographs from a digital camera

The unit doesn’t have a colour LCD display nor does it have SD card slots for printing of images from digital-camera cards. But it uses an up-front USB port which allows you to print images from PictBridge-enabled digital cameras, camcorders and mobile phones. The same port can be used to print TIFF, PDF, JPEG and XPS files from USB memory keys but you would have to know your desired image’s or document’s file name and where it is on the USB memory key.

When you print photographs, the pictures come out rather dark and this may be a consequence when a colour laser printer is used to do this job on plain paper. It can be good enough when you need “there-and-then” hard copy of pictures on a digital camera. As well, like all other multifunction printers you aren’t able to send pictures by email or fax from the USB slot or PictBridge.

Scanner and automatic document feeder

The scanner uses a conventional fluorescent lamp to illuminate the document rather than the LED “bar” used in all of the other multifunction printers that I have reviewed. This may yield benefits by providing even lighting for scanning the work but can be requiring replacement on a regular interval for a busy machine.

There is a double-sided automatic document feeder but I have noticed that it has some problems in its use. Here, it can cause some documents to “buckle” up when they are being turned over and this behaviour is more so with older documents that are being scanned. This behaviour is also highlighted with the access panel at the top of the automatic document feeder “creeping open” during the duplex cycle. The ADF has a separate slot where the document partially comes out during the “turnover” cycle. It is also worth knowing that it takes 17 seconds / page to scan both sides of a regular office document.

The reason I am paying attention to this is because most businesses may want to use a double-sided automatic document feeder to expedite the scanning of documents for electronic archiving or optical-character-recognition. Similarly, they may want to use this feature to fax or copy both sides of a document.

Duplex automatic document feeder

Duplex automatic document feeder with narrow slot for paper to emerge when "turned over"


The printer is very reliable although, because it uses an older colour-laser print engine, the cost of replacement toner cartridges is more expensive than the HL-4150 machine that I reviewed previously.

Another penalty of the older mechanism design is a longer duplex-print cycle where only one page at a time can be printed on both sides. Other than that, the printer is very reliable especially when it comes to large print jobs. Infact I have sent through a single-side print of a 225-page document then followed it with the same document printed double-sided and the printer worked very smoothly.

Limitations and Points of Improvement

For a machine of the price range, it could benefit from a colour LCD display and could also benefit from a memory card reader for “ad-hoc” printing from digital camera memory cards. The automatic documet feeder could do with some improvement for a high-duty-cycle type especially when it comes to reliability when doing a double-sided scan of documents printed on older paper.

It, like most other fax-enabled multifunctions, could have support for a “fax-from-mixed-source” function where a monochrome or colour fax job to a single destination could be constructed from document pages scanned via the automatic document feeder;  document pages scanned directly on the scanner glass (such as bound or stapled documents and till receipts) and / or digital images from a digital camera or user-attached flash storage.

Conclusion and Placement Notes

This multifunction printer does work well if you intend to use it as a printer for many short-run colour jobs or use it as a high-traffic high-usage machine and not do much in the way of archiving older paper documents to electronic form.

The printer could be cheaper to run as far as materials are concerned if a business expects to buy or specify it for use as the only document centre for their operations.

Faxing and machine-to-machine communications in the IP-based telephony age

The new direction for telephony

There is a new direction for telephony that will be affecting faxing and machine-to-machine communications over the next few years. It is Voice-over-IP which is regular voice telephony carried over an Internet-standard network.

This has been used primarily in large-business telephony but is now becoming a reality with consumers and small organisations. Initially, this technology was being pitched as a way of saving money on long-distance calls but is now becoming part of regular landline telephony.

The main drivers for this direction are the arrival of “naked DSL” Internet services where the telephone wires are used for DSL Internet connection and the customer doesn’t pay the incumbent telephone company for landline telephone service; cable-TV providers stepping to the fore for providing competitive local telephony service; and and the arrival of “single-pipe triple-play” services with multi-channel TV, Internet service and landline telephony delivered over one physical connection as one service package. These services are using the VoIP telephony technology to provide the local landline telephone service.

The next driver that will affect all customers is the national landline telephone system being moved away from the traditional circuit-driven setup to a packet-driven Internet-technology setup. Examples of this are the 21CN project in the United Kingdom and the National Broadband Network project in Australia. The advantage of these projects is to reduce the cost of providing regular voice telephony over short or long distances and to prepare for improved telephony setups like HD wideband voice telephony and video telephony. 

The effect on machine-to-machine applications

This will place a negative effect on machine-to-machine applications like faxing and monitored-alarm setups which are the two main applications that are facing consumers and small organisations. These setups are based on modem-based protocols that are designed for circuit-switched telephone networks like the “plain old telephone service”.

The main effect of this is that the packet-based telephony setups will cause the protocols used in these applications to go “out of step” and lead to communication failure. In the case of a fax machine, the document will either take a long time to go through to the correspondent or the fax transmission won’t succeed. In a monitored-alarm setup, the alarm event that is initiated by the premises-based alarm system will take a long time to register with the monitoring station or at worst won’t register there at all, which is a threat to security and safety – the main reason for these systems in the first place.

Bringing these applications to the IP age


The T.37 Fax-over-email solution

Most high-end business-market fax machines are equipped to work according to the T.37 “fax-over-email” protocol. This is a “store-and-forward” method that uses regular SMTP and POP3 Internet email protocols to send hardcopy faxes as TIFF-F (fax-optimised TIFF) image files attached to emails.

This solution requires that the recipient has a T.37-compliant fax machine or computer which is running an email client and software for reading TIFF-F files to receive the files. This may be no mean feat for a general-purpose desktop or laptop computer hut most smartphones and similar devices won’t have software that can read TIFF-F files.  As well, a person can use a scanner attached to a general-purpose computer that has software that can turn out TIFF-F files from the scanner as well as the regular email client to send hardcopy documents to a T.37 fax machine.

Some T.37-compliant fax machines can be set up to work as a T.37 – G3 gateway to forward faxes to regular fax machines. But this requires the sender to send email to an address formatted as “fax-mailbox@service-domail(FAX#fax_number)”, which can be difficult with many popular email clients. Here, these clients may not handle the phone-number data that is held in parenthesis properly or require the user to “go through hoops” to support this function when they manage their address book. It may be easier if the gateway uses a “international-format-fax-number@fax-gateway.service-domain” address format.

As well, the technology could support colour or greyscale photographic images through the use of JPEG or a colour variant of TIFF-F. This point is raised because of most fax-enabled inkjet and colour-laser multi-function printers being equipped with the ability to send and receive colour faxes using the “Super G3” protocol.

The T.38 real-time-fax solution

The T.38 protocol has been introduced as a method of providing “there-and-then” fax transmission over an IP network. At the moment, it requires a gateway device to be connected to a regular fax machine at each end of the link. This could be achieved by the use of a properly-designed VoIP “analogue telephone adaptor” terminal that becomes a T.38 gateway when it is connected to a regular fax machine.

The standard also requires the use of SIP and other call-setup protocols that are used in VoIP to establish the call. The destination information would have to be understood by the gateway picking up the DTMF “touch-tones” from the connected fax machine.

You can use a single ATA for VoIP and T.38 service, with use of distinctive ring + CNG fax tone to “wake up” client fax for incoming calls and use of the CNG fax tone generated by the connected fax machine to enter T.38 mode. But this would require separate T.38 service with separate number to be provisioned for smooth operation.

Another question is whether a network-enabled fax machine can become a T.38 fax endpoint machine or not? As well, would the T.38 protocol support enhanced fax modes like “photo” resolution or colour faxing.

What can be done

Improved provisioning experience

At the moment, most mid-tier consumer and all business multifunction printers have regular fax functionality and network connectivity. As well, some small-business units, especially the units sold by Brother, have T.37 “fax-over-email” functionality as part of the function set.

Typically these features are difficult to provision and use for most home and small-business users. What could be done is to implement a “wizard-based” user experience for the provisioning routine and / or, there could be the ability to download an XML provisioning file from the Internet provider whenever one wants to set up Internet fax.

As well, the industry could adopt a qualification program for Internet-fax equipment that requires a unit to achieve certain requirements such as compliance with known standards before being able to receive the right to display a particular logo of compatibility. This could also extend to the use of service-information files provided by carriers and service providers so that there is little effort required on the behalf of the home or small-business customer to set up their Internet fax service.

Internet fax service as part of a communication service provider’s arsenal

As far as addresses for T.37 fax services go, there could be the ability for a subscriber to be provided with a “virtual fax number” as well as an email address for their T.37 service. This is a telephone number that a person can dial to send faxes to the T.37 mailbox from the regular fax machine. Similarly, there could be support for an SMTP fax-gateway setup that uses a simplified addressing scheme as I have outlined earlier but uses address and password protection to authenticate customers and these would then be related to the “virtual fax number” which is to show on a regular fax machine’s display and  in the fax transmission reports.

The T.38 real-time-fax service could simply be provided by a VoIP or triple-play communications provider as a secondary fax-only number which works with T.38-compliant fax gateways or endpoints. This could be provided with a T.37-compliant Internet fax mailbox that can lead to such services as controlled transmission or reception setups such as “receive all faxes when you start business” or “transmit international faxes I send on local morning time”.

Equipment and software design considerations

A network-enabled fax terminal should support both the T.37 and T.38 network-fax protocols as well as the Super G3 protocols for circuit-based communications. As well, the setup experience for these machines should be simplified, preferably wizard-driven and with service-host interaction, so that people who don’t have much computer experience can get these machines going for Internet fax. This can be augmented by support for standardised XML-based service-manifest files that are downloaded from the service host.

The same machines could also support the storage of fax addresses as regular numbers or Internet-format email addresses and could simplify the construction of Internet-based fax addresses for regular number-based addresses based on however the T.37 fax server expects such addresses to be formed. This should then simplify the management of the one-touch or speed-dial address book that is part of the typical fax machine’s feature set. As well, email software should support the ability to send and view T.37 fax-over-email messages and support “sub-addressing” and address construction for T.37 fax gateway servers.

Monitored alarms

The main method that is being used for adapting an existing  monitored alarm infrastructure to an IP-based environment is to use a VoIP analogue-telephony-adaptor terminal that is programmed to be a “virtual modem” endpoint. Here, the alarm uses the standard modem protocol to signal the event to the ATA and this device forwards the event message to the control centre using an industry-standard message packet.

On the other hand, a network-enabled alarm system could be connected to the network and sends the event message via its network interface. This also includes existing systems that are designed to be future-proof by allowing a network interface kit to be installed at a later date.

There will also be the desire to provide this kind of network integration to this class of device in order to support enhanced monitoring functionality or building automation. The latter application would bode well with the “green impetus” in order to provide functionality such as synchronised control of lighting and heating / air-conditioning.

Another benefit is that a monitored alarm setup can be upgraded with new firmware without the need for a technician to visit the installation. This is in the same way that computers and mobile phones can be “patched” with software fixes by them connecting to a server to get the necessary software.

What needs to happen

Customers need to know what to do concerning evolving their monitored security or safety services to the Internet-driven world and view it as being important for all such services, not just for high-perceived-risk installations. As well, any monitored-alarm equipment that is pitched at the residential or small-business user has to have inherent IP-based monitoring or have support for the feature at a later date.

Equipment design considerations

The alarm-system industry needs to provide panels that either have inherent support for IP-based  signalling or can be upgraded to this function at a minimal cost through its service life. This is understanding that a typical alarm installation is seen by its users as a “backbone” device in the same context as a central-heating boiler or furnace and is therefore expected to have a service life of at least 10 or more years.

This should mean that a hardware upgrade should be in the form of a card being installed in to the existing alarm panel or a software upgrade is provisioned by, at the most, one visit from a technician.


As telephony systems move towards the packet-driven IP telephony space, the traditional machine-to-machine applications that face most users need to be evolved to support the Internet-based networks. This includes improved in the way these services are set up so that most people can provision them in a competitive manner rather than being tied to a particular carrier or operator.