An Office Brother 

Space can often be at a premium so why not opt for a multifunction device that can tackle a range of activities without overcrowding the workspace.

Put together a printer, flat-bed scanner, photocopier, media card reader, plus fax and the result is a multi-function product capable of handling numerous home/small business tasks.  All these features, plus a telephone handset, network support and ADF (Automatic Document Feed), are included in the Brother MFC-660CN offering which heads the company's new range of multi-function inkjet products.


Decked out in Brother's preferred option of matt silver livery, this device measures 486 x 351 x 180mm (W x D x H) and weighs 8.5Kg.  This basic box shape unit positions the telephone headset on the left and the ADF feature on the top.  Power and USB connections are arranged in such a way as to not add to the overall footprint of the MFC-660CN.


As mentioned earlier, this is an inkjet printer that uses four cartridges (black, yellow, cyan and magenta).  The cartridges are conveniently housed in a small compartment positioned at the front of the unit thus making it easy to replace them without too much fuss.  Paper input and output is via the front of the device with the former using a paper tray that has separate compartments for A4/Legal sheets and envelopes.  The tray can hold up to 100 sheets of paper and 10 envelopes.  While loading various sizes of paper caused no problems, I did struggle with my standard DL size envelopes.  The ADF can hold up to 10 sheets.


Just above the paper access opening are slots for inserting CompactFlash, Secure Digital, MultiMediaCard, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro and xD memory cards plus a USB port for use with PictBridge compatible devices.  This area is topped by a Control Panel.  Taking up a central position on this panel is a 2.5-inch colour LCD screen that can be raised up to various angles to help with visibility.  Adjustments can also be made to the contrast and brightness of the display which provides status, feedback and menu option information.


Located to the left of the LCD are the various telephony controls including a standard dial pad; telephony answering device (TAD); speaker phone; and speed dialling facilities.  More general controls are arranged on the right side of the LCD.  These controls include buttons to activate specific tasks (fax, scan, copy, photocapture); navigate, select and adjust menu options; select monochrome or colour output; and turn the MFC-660CN on/off.


A built-in 14,400 bps modem is used to provide the fax capabilities.  You can have up to 80 speed dial numbers and store up to 400 pages in memory plus automatically have an incoming fax reduced to fit a single A4 page.  Also supported are features such as fax forwarding; remote access using another touch tone phone; and automatic redialling of a fax number if the recipient is busy.


The A4 flatbed scanner has an optical resolution of 600 x 2400dpi.  Options are available to scan to email, OCR, image file or memory card with and without the intervention of the ADF.  Using the supplied Control Center software you can customise the default settings for these various scan (and other types of) operation.  You can choose the destination, whether an appropriate application or folder location, and set the file format to be used.


By inserting a memory card you can view the image contents either on the computer or the unit's LCD screen.  Options are available to crop and rotate images; adjust settings; and print all or an individual image with or without a border.


Image quality is fine especially at the highest print levels.  However I was unable to match the quoted print speeds even when selecting the fast (really only suitable for internal use) print mode.  Rather than the 27ppm monochrome and 22ppm colour quoted by Brother, the best I could achieve was 21ppm monochrome and 20ppm colour.  These figures dropped to 10ppm monochrome and 8ppm colour when selecting normal print mode which would be suitable for documents to be dispatched.  Further reductions occurred with the highest fine print mode.


As well as Control Center software, Brother includes a copy of Systran 5.0 translation software.  A telephone handset and leads for power and telephone connection are provided but not for the USB connection.  This multi-function device requires Windows 98 or later, Pentium II or better processors, 128MB RAM (512MB for Windows XP) and approximately 400MB of hard disk space for drivers and application.  It is also compatible with a Mac with OS X 10.2.4.  This network ready device has been priced at £179.99 and is more suited to a small office environment.

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