NFC (Near-Field Communication) is a buzzword in the technology industry these days, but few manufacturers have really cracked the code of making it useful. Brother is taking their first shot at implementing NFC in printer models, and reviews are very positive. The company has also updated their lineup of portable printers, and included options for smartphone and tablet integration that should make them even easier to use when out and about.
Brother’s first attempt at using NFC for sending and receiving information is with the Brother MFC-J870DW model. As an all-in-one inkjet printer, it includes the standard print, copy, scan, and fax functions one would expect, with wireless networking and ethernet as well. As a successor to the popular Brother MFC-J825DW model, it was recently made a PC Magazine’s Editors’ Choice. Of course, the landmark feature is its ability to communicate with nearby devices via NFC. The way it works is that a user brings their tablet or smartphone within range, opens the Brother app (available for free), and the two devices handle the communication automatically. The process is similar to printing via Wi-Fi, but requires fewer connection steps.
The NFC feature is not without limitations, of course. Currently, the MFC-J870DW doesn’t support the iPhone and some other popular models, but instead leans toward Android devices. Apple devices can still connect via wireless, Bluetooth, and other means for the time being, and support may be added in the future. This is just the first model to include NFC, after all, so we would expect even more improvements and wider support in future iterations.
New Portable Models
Brother has also recently expanded their lineup of portable printers, with several models that can print a full A4 page and yet fit into a laptop bag for travel. Each of the models use thermal paper, so they don’t require Brother ink cartridges, but this means users will sacrifice a bit in quality. Any of the models can run from an optional battery, which adds to the weight, but the power adapters add weight as well, so it is a tradeoff either way.
The PocketJet 6 is the most affordable in the lineup, but it is limited to a 200 dpi resolution that won’t be ideal for sharp text or graphics. For basic printing on-the-go, however, it may suffice. The PockJet 6 Plus bumps the resolution up to 300 dpi, for sharper output, though it’s still on the slow side, at just 6 pages per minute.
Most impressive of the three models, however, is the PocketJet 673, as it not only offers the improved 300 dpi resolution, but it can actually print full-page output from an Apple iPad or iPhone, when connecting with a specialized iOS app. Setup is a bit tricky, though, as it requires an ad-hoc interface. Those who don’t need to print from a mobile device would be better off with the PocketJet 6 Plus and its lower purchase price. For more on portable printing, be sure to read our article on Portable Printing Options.
While Brother has made a name for itself with powerful laser and inkjet printers, the company continues to innovate into new areas. Improvements like NFC show their commitment to innovation, and we can’t wait to see what will be next!