Brother's printers have a good reputation for offering a broad range of features at a low price, as well as quick print speeds. Yet the company's inkjet line hasn’t always produced the best quality output. Can the multifunction DCP-J725DW, which costs £136 from the Brother online store, do anything about this?
As printers go, the J725 is a good-looking device. Its design is squat, with the result that it stands just 180mm tall, but its footprint is larger, so it takes up a fair bit of desk space. Nevertheless, the glossy, dimpled finish used on the scanner lid looks attractive, while the matte black employed for the sides and control panel protects it from grubby fingerprints.
We also like the way the automatic document feeder at the top of the scanner neatly folds away into the main body of the lid, as it gives this model a much sleeker look.
The front panel has five physical buttons for essential functions such as power, start and stop, but this model also sports a 1.9-inch touchscreen display. The display uses resistive technology, and is pretty responsive to finger presses. Although this touchscreen isn't as bright or vivid as that found on the Lexmark S605, it's still very useable. It's also a great help when selecting pictures to print from the front-mounted memory card slot or USB port.
This model has a cassette-style paper tray that slots in at the bottom of the printer. It can hold up to 100 sheets of A4 paper at a time and also has a separate photo paper tray, so you don’t have to remove your A4 sheets when you want to print photos. You still have to take the tray out of its slot and physically push a lever to switch to photo printing mode, though, unlike some printers that have an automatic mechanism to do this for you.
The J725DW is easy to get up and running. In part this is because once you power it up, the touchscreen displays an animated guide to the steps you need to take to load it with paper, install the ink cartridges and load up the drivers on your computer.
The USB port is slightly awkwardly located: you've got to lift the scanner mechanism to get at it and then trail the USB lead through a channel out the back of the printer. But once connected you never really have to touch it again. Also, this model has Wi-Fi onboard, so you can hook it up to your home Wi-Fi network for wire-free printing.
Scanning and copying
This model's scanner has a resolution of 2,400dpi and does a good job of capturing accurate colours. Yet we felt that it could have done a slightly better job at reproducing fine detail.
The top of the scanner is home to an automatic document feeder that can handle documents of up to 20 sheets in length, so you can scan multi-page documents without having to manually place each sheet on the scanner's glass.
The scanner's fast speed helps it to quickly produce photocopies. For example, our black and white test sheet took just 18 seconds to copy, which is relatively speedy.
Speed, quality and cost
Brother's inkjet prints are known for their speedy output, and thankfully this model is no different. Our 10-page black and white text document took 1 minute 13 seconds to print. Thanks to its duplexer, it produced five double-sided pages of the same document in 2 minutes 42 seconds. Our 10-page colour presentation took 2 minutes 20 seconds to print, while it produced 10 pages of our colour graphics document in 2 minutes 14 seconds. Its photo printing was a touch on the slow side, however, as our 4x6 snap was completed in 58 seconds.
Text quality isn’t bad, but it doesn't look as dark on the pages as the results from Canon and HP printers. There's also some feathering around the edges of individual letters. Colours in our presentation and graphics documents were a tad muted, and there was some banding on larger areas of colour fills. Photo prints were a little lacking in oomph on the colour front too, but switching to the vivid mode in the printer driver did improve things slightly.
The printer uses four inks: one black cartridge and three cartridges for colour. Printing costs compare pretty well to competitors' products. Using the high-capacity cartridge, a black and white page works out at 3.2p, including 0.7p for paper costs, while a colour page works out at 6.4p per page.
The DCP-J725DW certainly doesn't provide the last word in print quality, as it's beaten on both graphics and text results by models from HP and Canon. It is, however, very speedy, and offers low running costs and a good range of features for the price.