Brother’s latest range all-in-ones combine an impressive array of features with extremely compact design. Last month we looked at the budget-priced DCP-J525W. Now it’s the turn of its bigger sibling, the DCP-J825DW, which sits at the top end of the range and as such is the most feature-packed of the lot.
It’s an extremely compact 4-in-1 model that combines print, copy, scan and fax in a beautifully designed chassis that seeks to distance itself from characterless rivals with a gloss black exterior highlighted by subtle grey shading.
What’s most impressive about the build of the J825 is that despite its sleek lines, it offers a massive range of features, including a 15-sheet ADF (automatic document feeder) that unfolds neatly from the top surface, a 100-sheet main tray with a 20-sheet dedicated photo tray, PictBridge USB support for direct printing from compatible cameras, and a multi-memory card slot to enable printing straight from SD cards, MemoryStick and more. There’s also a CD/DVD printing tray that sits snugly above the main tray.
You also get a choice of locally attached USB, as well as wired and wireless network connectivity – and those who like to keep things in order will find secondary USB and phone connections underneath the scanner unit, with a cable tidy running to the rear of the device. It’s a beautiful design that feels extremely solid and hard wearing, something only emphasised by the way so many features have been neatly combined into such a small footprint.
Setup and operation
Setup is pretty straightforward, and can be performed entirely via the provided software or with the help of the device’s touch-sensitive 3.3in full-colour LCD display. Getting used to the various features available is far trickier, however, since the supplied manual doesn’t go any further than initial setup and the PDF documentation does little to walk you through the key features of the device.
The same goes for Brother’s ControlCenter4 application, which does a good job of helping you control printing and scanning, but offers no mention of how to print images onto compatible discs. This must be done through the control panel on the device, and while it works well enough in that the relevant options are presented automatically when the CD printing tray is enabled, we think Brother would have benefited from a more user-friendly interface for the supplied software, to help guide users through some of the printer’s more ‘unconventional’ features.
Text prints were pretty fast for an inkjet popping out at around 9 pages per minute (ppm) at standard quality, and 12ppm at draft settings. Standard quality is impressive with deep blacks, no bleeding of the ink into the paper, and crisp lettering at smaller font sizes. Draft, on the other hand, while very sharp, uses far less ink and the resulting paler grey lettering can be difficult to make out.
Full-colour A4 prints were extremely fast at just one minute for borderless output, though these aren’t up to scratch by comparison with dedicated photo printers, with a slight grainy effect on images. While colours are accurate, photo outpur isn’t really up to the standard of professional-level prints – a feature it shared with its entry-level sibling, the DCP-J525W – so those looking to achieve this with an all-in-one will be found wanting.
Scans take a little while – around 40 seconds at full resolution – to return an image to the screen for processing, though we found results pretty accurate and the printer’s built-in photo editing/enhancement does a good job of cleaning up any issues. Finally, the copier takes around 10 seconds to output an A4 page, though we did have some issues with it grabbing more than one page at a time from the ADF, though this can be avoided for the most part by very carefully and snugly aligning the pages alongside the adjustable brackets.
Ink costs and value for money
Despite its faults, at £159.99, the J825DW represents good value for money. Provided you can live with the – mostly minor – issues concerning photo image quality, as well as what can initially be a frustrating experience in finding your way around the software and more advanced features, it’s a very capable device.
Ink costs are pretty reasonable, particularly if you opt for the high-yield cartridges. These offer 600 pages at £16.27 for black (2.7p per page) and £10.42 for each cyan, magenta or yellow colour cartridge (1.7p per page). This is far more cost effective than 300-sheet capacity black and colour (4.3p per page and 2.7p per page respectively).
Contact: Brother on 08444 999444
- Wide range of features including direct CD/DVD printing; solid and impressively compact design.
- Supplied software and documentation isn’t particularly helpful; image quality could be better.
It’s a shame the J825DW doesn’t quite tick all the boxes when it comes to performance and quality, and what seems clear here is that you’re paying for the compact design and a wide range of features and versatility. Those who would prioritise this convenience over speed and top-quality photo prints should be pleased, though - especially for the price.