Brother MFC-9325CW review: Brother MFC-9325CW

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Integrated WiFi and USB connectivity. Compact size.

The Bad No inbuilt duplexing. Poor quality colour. Poor error messages.

The Bottom Line The MFC-9325CW is a step up from the MFC-9125CN in both price and features, although its colour output is still noticeably sketchy.

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Design

Like its cheaper sibling, the Brother MFC 9125CN , the Brother MFC-9325CW is a compact colour multifunction LED printer that's designed for small office/home office (SOHO) use, and small enough to fit onto a desk, although it still dwarfs all but the most bulky inkjets, coming in at 428x491x401mm and 20.1kg. Although it's the higher priced sibling of the 9215CN, it's just a touch lighter — still, you're not likely to shift it around much, and it's advisable to use two people to do so.

The design philosophy that Brother applies to its printer line is very much evidenced with the MFC-9325CW; this is a no-nonsense printer, with a simple two line LED flanked by buttons that handle its printing, scanning, copying and faxing functionality.

Setup was the usual chore with bits of sticky plastic, thumping toner cartridges in, and picking between direct USB, Ethernet or Wi-Fi connectivity. For the purposes of testing, we printed via Ethernet, as it's what we've used for previous colour laser comparisons.

It's worth pointing out (if only for the pedantic) that the MFC-9325CW isn't a laser printer at all; it uses an array of LEDs, but the quality difference in a SOHO printer for monochrome, at least, usually isn't that noticeable.

Wi-Fi connectivity is one reason why you might spend the additional funds on the MFC-9325CW; the other is the presence of a front mounted USB socket for flash drives. It's rated by Brother at the same speed as the MFC-9125CN — up to 19 pages per minute in monochrome or colour.

Performance

Our first run of tests of the MFC-9325CW weren't that inspiring; from a cold start, the printer struggled to get a single page out, taking a leisurely 42 seconds and then increasing in speed for an average of seven pages per minute. With the printer suitably fired up, though, things improved markedly, with an initial page taking 17 seconds, for a total of 12 pages per minute. That's still below the claimed rate, but a little better than the cheaper MFC-9125CN, which only managed an average of ten pages in the same time frame.

Having only a two line display panel doesn't leave a lot of room for error messages, and the MFC-9125CN often annoyed us with both its detection of errors and the way it chose to communicate them. We hit a couple of paper jams during testing — which is fine, no printer is perfect — but it picked them up as the tray being out of paper. Likewise, the first time we tried to scan a document from the front panel, it beeped alarmingly and told us to "check connection" on the front panel. Which connection, and why? Was the scanner plate faulty? Where did it think we wanted to send the finished scan? As it turns out, that's an error message associated with its connection (USB/Ethernet/Wi-Fi), but we couldn't get it to move off the error, even thought the network connection was fine.

While text print quality was acceptable, colour reproduction was, like the MFC-9125CN, a bit of a sore point. If you're only using small areas of colour, it produces passable quality, but anything complex or large tended to have obvious bands of colour within it. It's not sold as a photo printer, and with good reason — when we ran a few photos through the printer, the results were less than impressive, with marked banding in darker areas.

The MFC-9325CW is a fair SOHO printer, but it's not a great one; while it would be worthwhile upgrading your pricing over the MFC 9125CN, the lack of quality colour output puts a definite pall on the whole experience.

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Where to Buy

Brother MFC-9325CW

Part Number: CNETBrother MFC-9325CW

Typical Price: $699.00

See manufacturer website for availability.