Brother MFC-845CW review

Price when reviewed

None of the office-orientated models this month takes the all-in-one tag to quite the extreme Brother does, as the MFC-845CW isn’t just a printer, scanner, copier and fax machine. While other devices allow you to plug a phone into an extension socket, the Brother boasts its own cordless phone with dock.

Brother MFC-845CW review

This gives it an advantage over plugging in a standard phone, as it synchronises the handset display with the printer itself, storing dialled and faxed numbers. We must point out that the fax component operates at only 14.4Kb/sec, rather than the 33.6Kb/sec of the rest, and this may be offputting if your work revolves around the fax on a daily basis.

But there’s much else here to like, not least the compact design and the presence of 802.11g WLAN and wired networking. The wireless module is simple to set up: unlike the Lexmark’s Wi-Fi setup routine, the Brother detects the SSIDs of your network and lets you enter any WEP or WPA (1 or 2) security keys, then the software detects it to complete the step. You also get a ten-sheet ADF on top, although remember to flip up the guide or your pages will fly off as they feed back out.

However, good ideas and design in some areas can’t mask weaknesses in others. One of those is the painfully slow speed, only just reaching a 3.1ppm mono rate at normal quality and taking more than a minute for a single 300ppi A4 scan. Quality isn’t great, either, with photo prints sitting firmly below the Epson and HP in the pecking order, and scanned images displaying far too much noise and murky colours that result in unrealistic tones.

A 6 x 4in photo took nearly four minutes to print, and the photo tray is a pain to use: like the Kodak 5300, you select photo paper by pushing in the tray, but it practically disappears from view. This makes it difficult to see how your prints are doing, and it isn’t helped by the lack of a progress indicator onscreen.

On paper, the MFC-845CW is a solid overall office package, but unfortunately the reality doesn’t match up. For this price, we’d expect much higher quality and better speed, so we can’t recommend it.

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