The Brother MFC-J825DW produces printed documents speedily but suffers from below-par print quality across text, graphics and photos.
The MFC-J825DW sits towards the top of Brother's current range of multi-function printers and as such has plenty of features.
Not only does it offer duplex printing and an automatic document feeder, but it also supports direct CD/DVD printing and includes both Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity.
It's available from £120 if you buy it online.
In terms of shape, there's little difference between the various models in Brother's current multi-function line-up. They all use the same short and squat design. But as this model is a premium offering, it differentiates itself by sporting a better finish. That equates to the use of a lot more gloss on its surfaces, including an interesting striped pattern on the scanner lid.
The controls can be found on a large panel that stretches across almost the entire width of the printer. We like the way Brother has used big and chunky buttons that feel slightly soft to the touch, but it's the touchscreen that's quite literally the centre of attention here.
It's very wide and can display four large-ish thumbnails at a time when you're selecting photos to print from memory cards or keys. These can be slotted into the multi-format card reader or USB port positioned beneath the right and left edges of the screen.
Below this is a slot that's used for direct CD/DVD printing. All you have to do to print to your discs is load them onto the supplied plastic tray and place it into the slot.
At the bottom of the printer is a slot-in cassette-style paper tray. This is split into two compartments. The first handles standard paper such as A4 sheets. The second is used to store photo paper. However, unlike some competing models, this paper tray isn't powered. If you want to switch between the two paper types, you'll have to manually remove the tray and push a lever to engage the alternative paper source. This is a tad annoying.
Setting up is mercifully quick and easy. The four cartridges are straightforward to install as you simply open a door on the front-right of the printer and click them in. The slots are spring loaded, so you don't have to mess around with any latches.
This model has a USB port, along with Ethernet and Wi-Fi. The Ethernet and USB ports are oddly placed -- you have to lift up the scanner mechanism to get at them and then trail the leads out the back of the machine through a small channel. However, most people will probably connect their computer to the printer via Wi-Fi.
Brother also offers its iPrint&Scan app for iOS and Android devices. This allows you to send photos and documents over Wi-Fi directly to the printer. We tried it with an Android phone and it was very easy to use.
Sitting on top of this model's scanner is an automatic document feeder that can handle up to 20 sheets at a time. Using this, you can quickly scan or fax multi-page documents without having to manually handle each one. However, it doesn't support duplexing so it can't be used to automatically scan both sides of a page.
The scanner produces good results, capturing fine levels of detail and natural colours. It's speedy too. This helps when it comes to photocopying as this model managed to copy our black and white test sheet in just 18 seconds.
This is a pacey model when it comes to printing. Our 10-page black and white text document took a speedy 1 minute and 7 seconds to complete. The printer also has a duplexer and managed to pump out five double-sides pages of the same document in 2 minutes and 30 seconds.
Colour printing is also fast. It completed our 10-page colour business presentation in 2 minutes and 27 seconds. The 10-page graphics test took 2 minutes and 3 seconds. Printing a 4x6-inch snap took 52 seconds. These are all highly respectable times for a printer in this class.
Print costs aren't the cheapest around -- that crown is currently worn by Kodak's models -- but they're far from being the most excessive either. A black and white page works out at 3.2p, while a colour page costs 6.4p. Both of these prices include 0.7p for paper costs.
When it comes to print quality, the MFC-J825DW produces mixed results. Text wasn't as clean as we would have liked. There was noticeable feathering, especially on bolded-up text at smaller font sizes.
This model did manage to avoid banding on large blocks of colour in our business presentation, but colours on the whole were tame, lacking the vibrancy that you get on many competitor models. That's true not just of colour graphics, but also of photo prints.
The MFC-J825DW offers plenty of features for the money. It's good to see duplex support, an automatic document feeder and direct CD/DVD printing at this price.
It's also pacey when it comes to printing. However, below-par print quality across text, graphics and photos lets it down slightly.