At $249.99, the Brother MFC-J5340DW is the lowest-price all-in-one printer we’ve yet seen that can print on tabloid-size (11-by-17-inch) paper. Part of the same new generation of printers as the MFC-J5855DW, it shares many of the same key features as that model, including good output quality, support for printing from and scanning to a mobile device, and fast speed. It’s a tad slower and has more limited paper handing, however. Still, its low price and small size for a tabloid-capable printer can make it just right for a small-office or personal printer if you absolutely must print at tabloid size but switch between different paper sizes only occasionally.
Versatile Printing and Scanning, One Size at a Time
At 37.5 pounds and 12 by 20.9 by 15.7 inches (HWD), the MFC-J5340DW is small for a tabloid-size printer, making it unusually easy to find room for in a small office. Physical setup is routine, consisting of little more than loading paper, connecting cables, and inserting the ink cartridges. Unlike the MFC-J5855DW, it’s not one of Brother’s Inkvestment tank printers, so there’s no ink tank to fill, but setup still requires a few minutes to load ink into the printer.
Installing the software, which includes scan and fax utilities as well as print and fax drivers, requires downloading them from Brother’s website. The process is easy enough, but there’s a lot to download and install, including a set of updates to the first set of files, so the process takes longer than with many printers.
Brother also offers apps for Android and iOS mobile devices to let you print from and scan to phones and tablets. In my tests, the Android version worked without problems via a Wi-Fi Direct connection. You can also use menu commands on the 2.7-inch touch-screen control panel to fax, copy, and scan to a PC; print from or scan to a USB drive; and both scan to and print from cloud services, including Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, and OneDrive.
For printing, there’s a 250-sheet paper drawer and a one-sheet bypass tray. Both can hold up to tabloid-size paper, and both allow automatic duplexing (two-sided printing). However, the auto duplexing works only for paper up to legal size.
All told, the printer is suitable for light-to-medium-duty printing by small- and home-office standards, and it’s best reserved for situations where you rarely need to switch between paper types or sizes. The bypass tray lets you use a different paper than is in the drawer if you need to, but for all but the shortest print jobs, you’ll need to swap out the paper in the drawer. Brother’s recommended maximum monthly duty cycle is up to 2,500 pages. If you don’t want to reload the tray more than once a week on average, the most realistic maximum is 1,000 pages a month.
For scanning, the MFC-J5340DW offers a 50-page ADF that can handle up to legal-size paper and is supplemented by an 8.75-by-11.7-inch flatbed, which means there’s no way to scan or copy tabloid-size originals. The ADF is also limited to single-sided scanning, with no option to manually flip the stack of originals and have the odd and even pages automatically interfiled in the right order. The only way to scan in duplex is to place each page on the flatbed and scan one side at a time.
The printer scores reasonably well for running cost. Using its high-capacity cartridges, the ink cost is 1.8 cents for a standard monochrome page and 8.9 cents for a color page. (Double these numbers for tabloid-size output.) As always, you’ll want to focus on the total cost of ownership—meaning the initial price plus the running cost—when comparing it to other printers you’re considering, as discussed in our guide to how to save money on your next printer purchase.
Testing the MFC-J5340DW: Solid Performance
For our performance tests, I connected both the MFC-J5340DW and our testbed PC to the same network, using Ethernet for both. On our 12-page Word text file, not including the first page, the printer basically hit its rated 28ppm speed, at 28.7ppm (23 seconds). That’s a touch slower than the MFC-J5855DW’s 31.4ppm (21 seconds), and a touch faster than the Epson WorkForce Pro WF-7840 and Epson WorkForce Pro WF-7820, which both came in at roughly 27ppm (24 seconds).
For short documents, both Brother printers have the additional advantage over the Epson models of a shorter first page out (FPO) time, at 6 to 7 seconds, compared with 12 seconds for both Epson printers. Including the first page in the results for the Word file puts the MFC-J5855DW in first place, at 26.7ppm (27 seconds), the MFC-J5340DW in a close second place, at 24ppm (30 seconds), and the two Epson printers statistically tied for a convincing third place, at roughly 19.8ppm (36 seconds).
Both Brother models also bested the Epson printers in our business applications suite, which adds several files of four or fewer pages along with graphics and color output. Here again the MFC-J5855DW was fastest, at 1 minute 34 seconds (16ppm), the MFC-J5340DW essentially tied, at 1:36 (15.6ppm), and both Epson models effectively tied with each other, at about 2:05 ( 12.1ppm). For 4-by-6-inch photos, the MFC-J5340DW averaged 53 seconds per photo.
In the MFC-J5855DW review, I pointed out that Brother recommended changing settings to avoid a problem I saw when printing full-page graphics on 20-pound weight paper. The high ink saturation in those cases occasionally caused the paper to curl and block later pages from emerging into the output tray. Using a higher-quality mode gave the ink more time to dry, so the paper stayed flat. I did not see the same issue when testing the MFC-J5340DW, likely due to some combination of my testing it on a less-humid day and the fact that it’s a bit slower, giving the ink more time to dry.
Text, graphics, and photo output quality in our tests were acceptable for most business purposes, but short of boardroom-level quality. For example, every font in our text suite that you’d likely use in a business document was easily readable at 6 points, and most were easily readable at 5 points, but edges weren’t as crisp as with laser output. Viewing individual characters through a magnifying glass revealed ragged edges at both sizes. Similarly, two heavily stylized fonts with thick strokes in our suite were both readable at 10 points, but both filled in loops at that size, and one completely filled in the space between some characters even at 12 points.
Graphics on plain paper offered nicely saturated color and evenly shaded gradients. They also maintained a one-pixel-wide line on a black background nicely. I saw some banding in solid fills that appeared to be from sweeps of the printhead, primarily in solid dark fills on full-page graphics, but even where banding showed, it was subtle. Photos on Brother’s recommended BP71G glossy photo paper lost some of the subtle gradations that give a sense of three-dimensionality, but they were solidly in the range of drugstore quality.
On our ink smudge tests on plain paper, color inks resisted smudging, but pages showed water marks after drying. Black text smudged easily when wet from drops of water but resisted smudging with a highlighter.
Verdict: Smaller, Less Expensive, and Maybe All You Need?
Each of the Epson options and the MFC-J5855DW mentioned above is a potentially good choice, and each has clear advantages over the others and the MFC-J5340DW. The WF-7840 offers the highest paper capacity of the four, a duplexing ADF that can scan up to tabloid-size paper, and the ability to print on up to supertabloid-size (13-by-19-inch) paper. If you don’t need its high capacity, but want the rest of the features, the less-expensive WF-7820 is essentially identical, except that it has two trays instead of three.
The MFC-J5855DW has the same limitations for scanning as the MFC-J5340DW does, so it can’t scan in duplex or scan at tabloid size, but it’s faster enough than the Epson models to notice. It also has essentially the same paper capacity for printing as the WF-7820, so you can load two kinds of paper at once, and it has the lowest running cost of the four.
That leaves the advantages for the MFC-J5340DW: its small size for a tabloid-capable model, its low price, and a close second-place finish on both speed and cost per page. Its combination of price and running cost guarantee that its total cost of ownership will be lower than for either Epson model. It may or may not be lower than MFC-J5885DW’s total cost, depending on how much you print. If you never need to print on supertabloid-size paper or scan at tabloid size, and only occasionally need to switch among tabloid-, legal-, and letter-size papers, the MFC-J5340DW very well could be the right fit.
The Bottom Line
The speedy, tabloid-size Brother MFC-J5340DW delivers good output quality, making it an option for small offices with limited need for printing at tabloid size but no need for scanning at that size.
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