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Brother MFC-845CW 

When you need help with various office tasks, calling on your Brother could provide the solution.

When your multifunctional device already contains an inkjet printer; flat-bed scanner; photocopying facilities; fax capabilities; network support; ADF (Automatic Document Feed) features built in; media card reader; PictBridge support; and a telephone handset, you would be forgiven for thinking that, apart from speed issues, any developments would be purely cosmetic.  But then you have not taken into consideration the inventive minds in Brother's R&D department.  With its latest MFC-845CW offering, Brother has opted to free up the telephone handset, previously attached to the multifunctional device by a lead, by turning it into a wireless DECT phone.

This change from fixed to roaming handset has required a slight change to the overall appearance of the unit and the addition of a base station, which doubles as a recharging facility, for the phone.  Brother has been able to reduce the width of the unit somewhat although you do have to make allowance for the swivel aerial that has been added to the right side of the box.  Like the main unit, the base station requires its own power source. 

The DECT Phone, which can form part of a DECT network with up to three more handsets, has its own LCD featuring an orange backlight.  It has a full size pad for entering numbers and text plus controls for navigating menus to access features such as a phone book and history list.  On a full charge (initially 12 hours), you get ten hours of untethered talk time or 200 hours on standby.  Digital answer phone capabilities come as standard.

Anybody familiar with Brother multifunctional devices will know that the USB connection is hidden away within the body of the unit.  Before connection the USB lead to the computer you will need to install the provided software made up of drivers and the MFL-Pro Suite which includes a version of ScanSoft PaperPort document management software.  You also get a copy of Systran 5.0 language translation software.

Installing the MFL-Pro Suite software was hardly trouble free.  On the first attempt, a message appeared stating that a problem had been encountered and I should reboot and try the installation again.  A second attempt resulted in the same message appearing.  However on this occasion I ignored the message and encountered no subsequent problems using the MFC-845CW.

This Brother multifunctional device uses four cartridges (black, yellow, magenta and cyan) that are inserted into a front-mounted compartment.  Paper input, using a tray that can hold up to 100 A4 sheets and 10 envelopes, and output is from the front of the unit.  Settings and controls can be manipulated using the 2.5" colour LCD, which can be positioned at various angles, and various top mounted buttons plus a four-way navigation pad.  Running along the front of the MFC-845CW are slots for inserting various memory cards that include Compact Flash, Memory Stick, SD and xD plus a PictBridge connection.

Fax capabilities are provided by a 14,400 bps modem.  You can set up to 80 speed dial numbers; store up to 400 pages in memory; have fax forwarding; automatic redialling; and remote access.  The flat-bed scanner can produce resolutions up to 192,000 x 192,000 (interpolated using the Brother scanner utility) and work with user-defined settings for specific tasks.

Brother rate this unit as capable of producing 27ppm monochrome and 22ppm colour but my tests produced figures that only came close when using the lowest Fast print mode.  With a 102-word document, I was able to get 24ppm in monochrome and 20ppm in colour.  However the print quality was so faint that it was only suitable for internal editing purposes.  Switching to Fast Normal mode reduced the print speed to 12ppm monochrome and 9ppm colour with some improvement in print quality but still not good enough for external correspondence.  Print quality suitable for correspondence was achieved with Normal (7/7ppm) and Fine (4/3ppm).  Used as a photocopier, the MFC-845CW took 40 seconds to produce a full colour A4 copy with Normal setting and 91 seconds for Best mode.

While the connectivity options with network, wireless and memory card features are comprehensive, the print speeds are on the slow side especially when quality is an issue.  With its target audience of small businesses, speed/quality is paramount and needs to be looked at by Brother.  Basic system requirements are either a Pentium II with 128MB of RAM and 250MB of hard disk space running Windows 98 and later or Mac OS X 10.2.4 with {Power PC, 256MB of RAM and 280MB of hard disk space. 

This multi-functional device is available from Amazon for 214.67 :

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Brother-MFC-845CW-Wireless-Multifunction-Printer/dp/B000O1EWFE

Information from Brother :

http://www.brother.co.uk/g3.cfm/s_page/50670/s_level/31200/s_product/MFC845CWU1

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