Clever and compact: Brother MFC-J825DW review

This compact multifunction device is well featured and cleverly designed. For example the carrier for printing CDs fits into the scanner cover when not in use and the paper tray is a two-tier arrangement — the photo paper carrier slides forward when needed which is easier than swapping papers but less convenient than a completely automatic arrangement. While the touchscreen is small we had no trouble using it.

The J825DW comes with a useful software bundle including PaperPort SE for document management FaceFilter Studio for improving the appearance of portrait photos and NewSoft CD Labeler.

The print quality is certainly adequate for most purposes but close inspection showed text wasn’t quite as crisp as what we’ve seen from other all-in-ones in the $200-$300 bracket. We timed it at 22 seconds for the first page and another 7 for the second page which is close to the claimed 10ppm for ‘laser comparable’ printing. The same two pages took 50 seconds for duplex printing due mainly to the ink drying time.

A 10 x 15cm photo printed in 35 seconds. The gloss was very even but the overall results were slightly darker than we expect especially in skin and sky tones.

Copying took about 20 seconds for A4. That more than doubled after selecting ‘best’ quality but it was worth the wait as the result was much smoother. Colour reproduction was generally good though slightly washed out. The ADF is single-sided but there is provision for making double-sided copies from single-sided originals. Double-sided originals go on the flatbed. We were happy with the quality of scans.

There’s provision for printing JPEGs from and scanning JPEGs or PDFs to USB storage or memory cards as well as scanning to computer with the option to save as a file attach to an email or OCR. OCR performance was mixed — recognition of individual characters was generally good (some errors such as ‘rn’ in place of ‘m’ occurred) but the software didn’t handle the variable margins of our multi-column document very well and some text was completely omitted. Google Docs did a better job of OCRing the same document.

Cloud support includes access to Picasa Google Docs and Dropbox. Options include printing a photo from a Picasa album scanning a paper document into Google Docs or uploading a file to Dropbox from a memory card. One limitation is that scan sizes are limited to A4 and Letter. Multiple PIN-protected accounts can be set up for each service.

Available from Brother retailing for $219.
APC rating: 7/10