The Brother MFC-J825DW succeeds the high-end MFC-795CW and has been designed for small companies looking for an efficient all-rounder. The spec is the same: a 4-in-1 with fax and wi-fi. It offers very good value for all the functionality you get. The standard 64 MB memory means it can be shared comfortably by a group of twenty people but has Brother corrected the weak points of the old models with the arrival of the new range?
The first thing to say here is how well equipped this printer is. It has a more modern, pared down design now that the telephone has been removed. Relatively sober, elegant and compact (40.5 x 25.5 x 18 cm and 9.3 Kg), its glossy hood is sure to pick up finger marks and dust. The plastic finish doesn't feel all that robust and the standard 100 page (20 for photos) paper tray isn't particularly practical or intuitive to use. No doubt we'd get used to it however...
The MFC-J825DW has all the features: printing, copying, scanning and faxing, all with double-sided and wi-fi. We managed to set up the wi-fi after three tries. A report is printed (sometimes on two pages) each time you fail, or succeed, in setting up the wi-fi. Is this really necessary?
There's a mixture of buttons and a touchscreen on the front. The controls are intuitive and easy to use. You can set how quickly you want the machine to go into standby mode and given how responsive the printer is (see inset), you won't have any qualms about setting this value quite low.
The paper loader
The four separate cartridges lodged at the front of the printer are very easy to access. We like being able to choose a high capacity format for lower maintenance and cost per page.
SpeedsWe should highlight the efforts Brother has made here in adopting the ISO standard for print speeds at last. Office document prints are fast both for colour and black prints: 14 and 17 pages per minute (ppm) is faster than the Canon MG6250 (11 ppm colour and for black). Note, optimising print speeds does also lead to several pages coming out at the same time and can cause paper jams.
Photo prints are rather slow (which spoils the rating in this section). To return to the comparison with the Canon, it takes 56 seconds (against 127 seconds for the Brother) for an A4 print and 23 seconds (against 1 minute) for a 10 x 15 cm print. We didn't come across any jams with photo prints though we do advise you to load several sheets of photo paper into the tray as, when there's only one, the paper often goes undetected.
QualityThe droplets are very visible and the characters lack depth. The yellow letters get lost in the green background. The single-toned areas are accurate.
The results for colour photos are okay but not up to the standards of Canon or Epson machines (not the same number of cartridges either!). The prints lack precision and the droplets are visible in places. Overall, there's a lack of brio and the black areas tend towards blue.
Scanner and copier
Ten seconds to scan a 300 dpi document is fast. It's easy to scan to a computer, memory card or USB key for your PDFs, JPEGs and TIFFs. Those for whom scanner quality is an important factor will be disappointed. There's a visible loss of detail (see photo) and a high colour difference: 8.4 %.
In copy mode when you've got a ten copy job and upwards, you'll often find several pages arriving at once. Annoying! You can however set enlargement, density and double-sided as well as applying a 'confidential', 'draft' or 'copy' watermark, which is nice and practical. Black copies come out in 18 seconds and colour copies in 19, which is par for the course. In terms of quality, it's the same old story. Copying text is no problem but copying a photo or a detailed graph is touch and go. There's a clear loss of quality and the legibility of the final document will often be affected.
Power consumption is reasonable, with 1.6 Watts in standby and 15 Watts when printing. It's also very quiet when printing photos (42 dB(A)), but a little less so when printing office documents (53 dB(A)) for an average of 47.5 dB (A). Anything under 50 dB(A) and we classify a printer as quiet.
Energy consumption & Noise levels
Cost per pageThe difference in costs between the different cartridge formats is enormous! 19.9 pence for standard cartridges and 9.8 pence for the high capacity versions, which is more than double! Of course, we recommend you to go for high capacity! This pricing policy is a clear attempt by Brother to orientate its clientele towards the XL cartridges. For information, our rating criteria is based on the lowest cost per page (the high capacity cartridges). The four star rating corresponds to 9.8 pence. At 19.9 pence per page, we'd have to give it a zero rating which would naturally adversely affect the final rating.
While cost per page is lower than average with the XLs, Brother is nevertheless still trailing HP: the HP Photosmart Plus comes in at 8.9 pence per page with XL cartridges.
ISO lifespan for text - Standard format: 19.9 pence!
||ISO lifespan||Cost per page|
|LC1220BK (black)||£19.34||300||6.4 pence|
|LC1220C (cyan)||£13.36||300||4.5 pence|
|LC1220M (magenta)||£13.36||300||4.5 pence|
|LC1220Y (yellow)||£13.36||300||4.5 pence|
ISO lifespan for text- XL format 9.8 pence!
|Cartridge||Price||ISO lifespan||Cost per page|
|LC1240C (cyan)||£13.38||600||2.2 pence|
|LC1240M (magenta)||£13.38||600||2.2 pence|
|LC1240Y (yellow)||£13.38||600||2.2 pence|
|LC1240BK (black photo)||£19.38||600||3.2 pence|
- 4-in-1 wi-fi and double-sided
- Cost per page with XL cartridges: 9.8 pence
- CD/DVD and Blu-ray printing
- Print quality could be improved
- Cost per page with standard cartridges: 19.9 pence
- Impractical paper loader
- Paper jam risk
The main pluses: hardware, design and price/quality ratio. The Brother MFC-J825DW is cheap to buy and the cost per page reasonable. Perfection is still out of its grasp however, notably when it comes to print quality.