An inkjet all-in-one printer that won't waste ink and is actually reliable: The Brother MFC-J870DW wows experts and owners simply by doing its job without fuss. The paper tray only holds 100 sheets, but that's fine for personal or home-office use. Printouts and photos look nice, and the Brother MFC-J870DW can print wirelessly, too. It handily wins the title of best all-in-one printer.
Simple, reliable and frugal with ink. Experts and most owners have no trouble setting up the Brother MFC-J870DW: It networks via Ethernet or Wi-Fi, and the 2.7-inch touch screen makes it easy to navigate the menus. One source calls it "one of the easiest printers to use." It doesn't waste ink -- even if you only print occasionally. While other brands guzzle ink with their "head-cleaning" cycles, the Brother MFC-J870DW uses only 11 percent more ink with intermittent printing in one test. In another similar test the entire Brother brand proved the most frugal with ink.
Brother printers score highest for customer satisfaction in two separate surveys. It's also the most reliable printer brand in one survey and number two in the other (right behind Canon). The Brother MFC-J870DW carries a two-year warranty, too -- twice as long as most all-in-one printers'.
Good speed and print quality. Printing, copying, scanning, faxing -- the Brother MFC-J870DW handles all tasks nicely. It's fairly quick, especially for the price: 9.1 text pages per minute, in one test, and about one minute for a 4-by-6-inch photo. Text, graphics and photos all look good, although not outstanding. Photos on photo paper look about like drugstore prints, PCMag.com says, and graphics look "good enough for any internal business use. Depending on how critical an eye you have, you may or may not consider it good enough for PowerPoint handouts or the like as well."
Packed with goodies. Despite its low price, the Brother MFC-J870DW comes loaded with features that even pricier all-in-one printers lack. It auto-duplexes (printing on both sides of the paper) and will print on CDs. You can print from your iOS device (iPhone, iPad, etc.) over Wi-Fi using Apple's AirPrint feature, and (another rarity) from NFC (Near Field Communication) phones like the Samsung Galaxy S4, connecting by simply touching the phone to your printer. (PCMag.com tests NFC printing and finds it "impressively easy.") There's a PictBridge port, so you can connect a camera or USB stick and print directly.
Paper capacity is small -- a 100-sheet main tray and 20-sheet automatic document feeder for copying or scanning a stack of papers -- so the Brother MFC-J870DW all-in-one printer is best suited for personal or home-office use.
ConsumerReports.org tests 74 all-in-one printers, including the Brother MFC-J870DW. Each printer is rated in a dozen categories (print quality, ink use, etc.), and editors rank the printers from best to worst.
Review: Brother MFC-J870DW, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not Dated
Brother printers are the only brand that's "consistently frugal with ink" in real-world-style, intermittent printing tests. ConsumerReports.org reports on its findings in this free article.
Review: The High Cost of Wasted Printer Ink, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, June 2013
The Editors' Choice Brother MFC-J870DW has just one notable flaw: low paper capacity, M. David Stone says. It's a great all-in-one printer for personal or home-office use, Stone says, and it performs well in tests here.
Review: Brother MFC-J870DW, M. David Stone, Sept. 27, 2013
4. Which? magazine
This British magazine, similar to ConsumerReports.org in the U.S., tests the Brother MFC-J870DW alongside 117 other printers. Each printer earns ratings for printing, scanning, copying and more, and editors pick best buys. Which? also surveys subscribers to find out which printers work best in real life.
Review: Brother MFC-J870DW Review, Editors of Which? magazine, Not Dated
For the fifth straight year, Brother printers win PCMag.com's annual reader satisfaction survey. Brother earns high marks for reliability, tech support and overall.
Review: Readers' Choice Awards 2013: Printers, Ben Gottesman, July 31, 2013
With more than 440 owners posting reviews here, the Brother MFC-J870DW earns 4.2 stars (out of 5). As with most printers, a minority of users (about one in 10, in this case) gives it low marks for being unreliable.
Review: Brother Printer Work Smart MFCJ870DW Wireless Color Inkjet All-in-One Printer with Scanner, Copier and Fax, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of March 2014