There is a fairly large number of embroidery and sewing machines out there and most of them are quite similar, not just aesthetically. They have similar features and work on essentially the same principle. Rarely do we ever come across a unique machine of this type, but Janome MB-4N is an exception to the rule – this is an impressive, elaborate, almost industrial machine.
But how good is it?
Design and Functionality
As noted in the intro, and as you can see in the picture, this is a unique-looking device. It has an almost industrial appearance, but it is meant to be used at home. Naturally, this is a quite large (dimensions: 27 x 25.8 x 18.2 inches), heavy model that home business owners could potentially fall in love with.
On the right side of the machine is a large LCD display, with controls right below the screen. The large screen bodes well for ease of use. All buttons are within the reach and work well. Much like most machines these days, this one has a couple of USB ports, meant to connect the MB-4N to an external device and, obviously, for plugging in a USB stick with ready-made designs.
The MB-4N has 4 needles, but has space for up to 8 spools of thread. This means the user can have additional thread colors readily available. This can come in especially handy when working with designs that require multiple thread colors.
This is just an example that shows a lot of designer effort, but this isn’t the only highlight of the MB-4N. The machine has a lot of useful features, including: an auto thread cutter, drag and drop editing and embroidery area tracing.
Hoop size is often what makes or breaks a machine of this type and this one has 3 embroidery hoops, with the largest one being 9.4 x 7.8 inches. The medium one is 5 x 4.3 inches, while the smallest one is 50 x 50 millimeters.
A large selection of accessories is also included; 5 bobbins, a lint brush, a seam ripper, a needle threader, 5 spool caps, 9 spool nets, 4 screwdrivers (a large one, a small one, offset and a 3 sided screwdriver). A lint brush, tweezers, an oiler and an accessory case also come with the MB-4N.
This is perhaps the most complex embroidery machine we’ve reviewed so far. Nonetheless, it has been cleverly designed so using all of its features does not require too much extensive knowledge or effort. Still, it’s hard to imagine someone who’s hobby is embroidery wanting to invest in the MB-4N – it is quite expensive after all.
At the first glance, it seems as if Janome have tried to design a machine that will satisfy hobbyists and home business owners both. Whether they have managed to do so, or simply landed in the valley of compromise between two different peaks without truly catering to either demographic, mostly depends on the way the MB-4N performs.
That is what the next section of our review is about.
The complexity of this model is reflected in its performance. The MB-4N is a fast machine, producing 800 stitches per minute. There are 100 built-in designs, 3 different font sizes and a monogramming (2 and 3 letter) feature.
A great thing about this machine’s performance is the threading feature. Threading is easy on the MB4-N. All you have to do is follow color-coded thread guides and the machine pretty much does the rest of the work itself.
On the other hand, the bobbin winder is inconveniently placed on the left side of the machine, which takes some getting used to, but at least you can wind a series of bobbins while working on an embroidery design.
Arguably the biggest downside that greatly impacts performance is the lack of an RCS unit. The unit is optional, but not included. This means unless you buy it too, you won’t be able to actually see your work. However, it’s still possible to operate the machine and use all of its features using the LCD screen only, but a lot less convenient.
The embroidery hoops that come with the MB-4N are very unusual, with silver arms extending from both sides – these arms snap into place on the unit and you can remove them once you’re done with working on your design.
This is another feature that takes some time to get used to, because other embroidery machines have differently designed hoops. If you’re new to embroidery machines this won’t be an issue, but if you’ve got some experience with other machines your hands will go to the wrong places the first few times you use it.
Another good thing is that the MB-4N can also produce lace designs, which is something most embroidery machines can’t do.
As you have probably already concluded, the MB-4N is a complex, unique embroidery machine that truly stands out among the crowd. The question is: Does everyone have the time and the patience to get used to the way it operates?
At least, with all of it flaws, the MB-4N performs well and fulfils its unique set of potentials.
- Dimensions: 27 x 25.8 x 18.2 inches
- Shipping weight: 69 lbs
- Number of built-in designs: 100
- Number of fonts: 3
- Number of needles: 4
- Embroidery area dimensions (hoop size): 9.4 x 7.8 inches
- Maximum Embroidery Speed (Stitches Per Minute): 800
- Pattern Rotating: 1 and 90 Degrees
- Unique design
- Lots of features
- Large number of built-in designs
- Can produce lace designs
- USB connectivity
- Good display
- Not for everyone
- Takes a lot of getting used to
Our Rating: 7.5
Final Verdict: A Complex, Slightly Flawed Embroidery Machine
In a way, this machine’s biggest strengths are also its biggest weaknesses. The toughest question to answer, when coming up with the final conclusion about the MB-4N, is: who is this machine for? Clearly, since this is a pretty expensive, complex model, hobbyists should probably look elsewhere, but it is still very user-friendly and has tons of automatic features.
This is a machine you’ll either love or hate. Polarizing reviews online are a testament to this statement – it seems to me as if beginners and hobbyists purchased this device, looking for a way to explore their creativity, only to feel disappointed for not being able to handle it in all of its complexity.
If the MB-4N is your cup of tea, you’ll have a hard time finding a better one and if it isn’t, feel free to look around our website. Surely you’ll be able to find a device that suits your needs and preferences.
If you’re an intermediate user, a home business owner or someone who wants to kick-start their home business, the MB-4N might just be the right choice.