Brother’s new INKvestment Tank printer is made for people who hate buying ink cartridges

What if you didn’t have to change your printer’s ink cartridges for a year? That’s the proposition from Brother’s new MFC-J995DW multifunction inkjet printer, which is the first model to use the company’s new INKvestment Tank system that provides a year’s worth of ink before needing replacement. Priced at $200, the J995DW is available now.

The INKvestment Tank is the successor to the INKvestment series, which was developed based on how people were using printers, Phil Lubell, senior director of B2C product marketing at Brother, told Digital Trends. The problem isn’t that people don’t like to print (the industry is declining, but it’s still massive, Lubell said), it’s the inconvenience and expense that they dislike.

“It came down to a couple things we honed in on: providing more ink in cartridge and affordability,” Lubell said. “Those are two foundational things that were pain points for consumers — replacing ink, and frequency and cost of doing it.” While the previous INKvestment printers addressed those pain points, Lubell said INKvestment Tank takes it to another level.

With a white colored exterior instead of the traditional black, the J995DW looks like a typical all-in-one inkjet printer, until you notice the protrusion on the right side of the machine. The design is to accommodate four, newly developed high-yield ink cartridges (black, cyan, magenta, and yellow) that don’t have traditional mechanisms, like levers and springs.

“We re-engineered the ink cartridge, removing a lot of the components from the cartridge and [moving them] to the printer, which allowed it to get significant amount of ink,” Lubell said. And unlike printers that offer high yields through refillable ink tanks, the J995DW uses familiar cartridges that are easy to replace.

How significant? The four cartridges offer up to a year of ink. For high-volume users, Brother is offering the J995DW in an XL model (J995DWXL, $299) that supports even larger-capacity INKvestment Tank cartridges that provide two years of ink. In comparison, the J985DWXL also had a two-year claim, but that was achieved through Brother throwing in three sets of four ink cartridges into the box — you would have to replace the cartridges twice, and then buy three new sets to reach another two years. With the new INKvestment Tank system, customers have the option of one-year and two-year models, with just one set of ink.

Sure, the printer takes up slightly more desktop space, but in return you won’t need to replace ink for some time — depending on your usage, of course. The one-year claim is based on average monthly print volumes of 150 pages, at 60-percent black and 40-percent color. If you print occasionally or you print mostly in draft mode, you’re likely to hit the one-year mark or possibly longer, But if you print a lot of colorful documents, chances are you’ll have to replace the ink before the year is up. (For convenience, you can easily reorder ink through a subscription service that automatically sends you new ink when the printer notifies Brother it’s running low

As for operating costs, Brother says the cartridges translate to $0.01 per page in black and $0.05 per page in color. When it comes time to replace those cartridges, it costs approximately $25 for each of the three colors and $35 for black (approximate yield of 1,500 pages in color, 3,000 pages in black), and $67 for each color and $60 for black in the XL version (5,000 pages in color, 6,000 pages in black). A useful feature is the Brother Intelligent Page Gauge, which tells you how many you can print with the remaining ink; other printers usually display an indicator that shows you just the remaining ink levels.

The J995DW adds new features to the INKvestment series, including fax; support for additional connectivity services; has a higher max monthly duty cycle; and a larger-capacity paper tray — all these benefits, while keeping the price at $200. Despite the larger dimensions, it’s still fairly compact and has a robust construction, particularly with the automatic document feeder. The white is a nice change from the predictable black, but we wonder if discoloration would be an issue down the road. But like its predecessors, there’s a 2.7-inch color touchscreen, support for popular cloud services (Google Drive, Dropbox, and Evernote) and mobile printing (AirPrint, Google Cloud Print, Mopria, NFC), duplex printing, and other features designed for small or home office use. The J995DW isn’t positioned as a photo printer, but we found with previous Brother all-in-one printers that they do a very good job with printing color on photo paper.

“There’s nothing on the market like this, with the feature package, for less than $200,” Lubell said.

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