Brother 3-in-1 DCP-J774DW inkjet
The unit is light grey in colour and rectangular in shape with a full size lift-up cover over the glass scan/copy platen. It is 40cm wide x 34cm. This increases to about 38cm when the control panel, with its 6.8 cm diagonal touch-sensitive colour LCD display, is swivelled outwards to a more convenient viewing angle and about 46cm when the paper catcher is extended to the front and still further on those occasions that the rear single sheet feeder is deployed. Although only 15cm high a minimum of 30cm headroom is required in order to lift the cover for scanning and copying.
The pull-out cassette at the front of the machine can hold well over 50 sheets of paper and, inset into the top of it, is a tray for a dozen or more sheets of up to 6 x 4 inch photo paper. At the front corners of the machine are pull-down flaps. The left hand one conceals the SD and USB media slots while the right hand one provides access for the four (CYMK) ink cartridges. Brother offers both standard and high yield cartridges which print either 200 or 400 pages in accordance with the ISO/IEC standard. These figures will not necessarily be achieved in real life.
In this context, one of the first things that one sees in the instruction leaflet when you unpack the machine is a note that says that the ink cartridges supplied in the box contain approximately the same page yield as replacement standard cartridges.
The basic setting up and installing the ink cartridges is straightforward and is done before connecting to the computer. It is followed by a quick check on print quality prior to connecting the printer to the PC. Although a driver disc is provided I downloaded the latest Windows 10 drivers to the PC from the Brother Web site and went through the procedure to make a wireless connection. Using the wireless password from my router this was a straightforward task.
Printing documents from an application such as Word was straightforward with the automatic 2-sided printing being very useful however it should be borne in mind that, in this mode, the print speed is appreciably slower that the claimed up to 10 and 12 pages per minute for colour and B&W respectively.
Copying of documents is controlled from the LCD screen which provides access to a number of useful features. Among these is the ability to remove background colour which has the effect of enhancing contrast and so improving readability and Poster whereby an A4 document is copied and enlarged on 4 pages to make up a poster. Conversely, four A4 pages can be shrunk down onto one A4 page. Another is the ability to copy both sides of an ID card onto one sheet of paper.
As well as printing images from an SD card or USB flash memory one can also print index sheets of the images on the removable medium.
Once the printer has been installed one has convenient access to the facilities via either iPrint & Scan or Brother Utilities. In fact, iPrint & Scan is a subset of Brother Utilities as is Scan and Photo Print etc. The Control Centre, accessed via the Brother Utilities menu, provides access to the majority of the needed settings so that, for example, one can select from the various pre-set scan options for Image, OCR, email and scanning to file. It is worth spending time with the on-line manual to get the best out of the machine.
Overall, for the SoHo user for whom time is money, the ease of use and the range of features, which include automatic 2-sided printing, are important as are the utilities which make it easy to change from normal day-to-day setting to ones that may only be used on occasions such as switching from scanning B&W documents at 300 dpi to capturing a photo at 1200 dpi in 24-bit colour.
However, as there are many 3-in-1 inkjets on the market which are priced lower than the £100 + VAT suggested retail price of the DCP-J744DW so there is the trade-off between cost and the versatility of the machine even though some may wonder whether, for example, the poster print facility is more of a gimmick than actually a useful feature.
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