The side of the box for the Brother MFC 9125CN describes it as a "Digital Colour Multi-Function Centre", which rather makes it sound as though, along with printing, scanning and faxing, you might be able to host a wedding reception within its off-white plastic body. Sadly, that's not so; like many of Brother's other printer designs, the accent is largely on the functional, rather than the aesthetic.
The Brother MFC 9125CN is compact enough to fit onto a desk, but at 428x491x401mm and a carrying weight of 22.9kg, you're well advised to get two people to lift it into place. Controls are what you'd expect on a workmanlike SOHO printer, with a simple two-line LED showing current status, flanked by controls for fax, copy and print functions. The flat plate scanner has an automatic document feeder at the top, but there's no provision for automatic duplexing, and there's only a single 250-sheet paper tray at the base of the printer.
Technically speaking, the MFC 9125CN isn't a laser printer, according to the strict definition; it's an LED printer, but that's an under-the-hood distinction that doesn't make much difference in the end text documents you throw out there, whether it's an electrostatic laser or pixel LED printing process. Brother rates the MFC 9125CN as being capable of printing "up to" 18 pages per minute, but, as we've seen with plenty of other printers, those figures can be incredibly rubbery. Its multi-function base covers copying, scanning and, for those who just can't escape the 1990s, faxing with an in-built 33.6Kbps modem.
The MFC 9125CN supports printing either by wired Ethernet or USB cable; there's no Wi-Fi option here if that's important to you, although you could step up to the AU$699 MFC-9325CW if you needed the wireless option.
We tested it with a variety of documents, to gauge both the print speed and quality of the MFC 9125CN. Any LED printer should output straight text documents at good quality, because that's the undeniable benchmark of this category; it's why inkjet printers try to sell themselves as "near" Laser quality. The quality of straight text output from the MFC 9125CN was excellent, but the speed wasn't exceptional. Brother's specifications suggest that the first page should come out from the printer in around 15 seconds or less. Over a 10/100 network connection, we typically found it to be more like 30 seconds. From there, the page flow was quite regular, but it still only hit 10 normal coverage pages in a minute, well down on the "up to" 18ppm figure that Brother quotes.
Print speeds were workable for a very small office without being exceptional; we can't say the same for overall colour quality. The MFC 9125CN tended towards bleached-out colours, with some quite visible banding in most prints, especially those with complex tones. Get the MFC 9125CN to print anything with skin tones in it, and you're likely to get complaints from the owner of the original hide, no matter its real hue. While in-depth photography work isn't the aim of most SOHO LED printers, this does have an impact if you're likely to do a lot of colour printing work, especially if it needs to look particularly sharp.
The standard toner cartridges for the MFC 9125CN are rated for up to 2200 black pages, with the cyan, magenta and yellow capable of 1400 pages each. Prices for replacement toner varied quite widely in our searches — and there's more than a few third-party cartridges out there — but the base price appears to be around AU$80 for a replacement black cartridge, giving you a rough 3.6c per printed page cost, which is quite moderate.