Brother DCP-J525W review

Budget home-office multifunction printer that's let down by image quality
Photo of Brother DCP-J525W
£119.99

The Brother DCP-J525W is the latest in a stream of new A4 inkjet all-in-one printers from the company, specifically targeted at home workers – a rapidly expanding market, given the boom in flexible working and the rocketing cost fo travel.

It’s a multifunction printer with three main fields of expertise – inkjet printer, scanner, copier – and as the entry model of Brother’s new batch, it’s decidedly compact (405x378x160mm), weighing in at a comfortable 10.7kg. Although it’s small, it’s fashioned in stylish jet black with a smart textured dimpled effect on the expandable scanner cover.

Responsive touchscreen
If you like your work tools to be clearly labelled and easy to understand, then the DCP-J525W is simplicity itself. Virtually everything is controlled from the 1.9in colour LCD touch screen that  sits squarely in the front of the main panel, and can be tilted for easier viewing. Zipping through the menus is a breeze, and if want to do instant copying without going through the menu, there are two dedicated buttons beside the display for colour or mono results – shame there wasn’t an extra one for scanning.

It’s not just the control system that’s minimalistic – there’s a mere 100-sheet feeder tray at the bottom, no auto duplex facility, no USB input to enable you to print straight from PictBridge-enabled cameras, and no memory card slots. Its one big selling point over many budget rivals is that Wi-Fi connection comes as standard (and is quick to set up). There’s also a USB port for physically attaching to a PC, but no Ethernet linkage to a network.

Good speed, poor pictures
When it comes to performance, there’s a marked contrast between speed and image quality. Speed-wise, Fast (i.e. Draft) black text documents emerge at a nippy 20 pages per minute (ppm), while at its Normal setting the DCP-J525W only manages a more sedate 12ppm. Likewise, A4 colour prints arrive in 35 seconds and 10x15cm snaps in just 15 seconds – yet the Best quality achieves 4 min 35s and 1 min 45s, respectively. So overall, a relatively respectable production rate.

Turning to image quality, the results are much more disappointing. Black text at Normal setting does appear with solid characters and no signs of smudging or feathering, but Fast text is much grainier and fainter.

Photo quality revealed a persistent yellow tinge at the native resolution, and copies were generally anaemic-looking throughout. Even scanned images betrayed the same yellow wash, together with some signs of banding. Given that users who might choose this this printer in preference to a budget mono laser, would presumably do so mostly for its colour reproduction capabilities, this can only be described as an own goal.

Company: Brother

Website: http://www.brother.co.uk/

Contact: Brother on 08444 999444

Positives
  • User-friendly touchscreen controls; built-in Wi-Fi.
Negative
  • Poor quality colour prints.

Verdict

Brother must be hoping that its new line of home business colour MFP's will prove popular in a growing market but this entry level machine lacks a few basic features and despite good speed averages, is sadly lacking in image quality.