Brother DCP-J774DW review: A poor-value choice

Brother’s smart inkjet MFP is let down by poor scans and high running costs

Price
£100
  • Dedicated photo paper tray
  • Disappointing photo quality; No SD card slot; Expensive to run; Light on features

Brother's DCP-J774DW is a compact inkjet multifunction peripheral (MFP) aimed at general-purpose use in the home. At this price, though, its specification is a little disappointing. While office users get useful features like automatic double-sided (duplex) printing, there's no fax modem, USB host port or automatic document feeder (ADF). Creative users are similarly short-changed: while it's nice to see a dedicated photo paper tray, there's no SD card slot for direct photo printing.

The DCP-J774DW uses a capillary ink system, where the heads are fed via tubes from stationary ink cartridges. It's a shame that Brother hasn't keyed the tanks to prevent them fitting in the wrong slots. Replacements aren't especially keenly priced, either: we calculated running costs of 11.7p per A4 colour page, of which black ink makes up a whopping 3.6p.

Tested over Wi-Fi, this printer delivered our 25-page mono letter test at a leisurely 8.3 pages per minute (ppm), although switching to draft quality literally doubled the speed. Colour prints were comparatively quick, however, with our complex graphics test arriving at a creditable 5.4ppm. Photocopies were swift, with a single A4 page needing 17 seconds in black or 21 seconds in colour. Scan speeds were a little slow, with a 150 dots-per-inch A4 scan needing 29 seconds, although at 80 seconds our 1,200dpi 6 x 4in photo test was quite competitive.

We were broadly happy with prints and photocopies on plain paper. Text and graphics were strong, and free of obvious inkjet artefacts such as grain, but colours were generally a touch drab. Although fine for occasional use, photo quality wasn't a strong point, with colours again looking a little under-saturated.

We encountered problems with this release of Brother's TWAIN scan interface, which wouldn't return a scanned image to the host application - we used the bundled iPrint&Scan app instead. The results weren't that impressive, looking dark regardless of whether we specified a "Document" or "Photo" original. We couldn't distinguish the eight darkest shades on the Q60 target we use to test dynamic range - one of the poorer results we've seen.

It's hard to avoid the impression that the DCP-J774DW is a bit too generalised. Lacking any stand-out features, and with mixed results and fairly high running costs, it's not great value.

Verdict

It’s hard to avoid the impression that the DCP-J774DW is a bit too generalised. Lacking any stand-out features, and with mixed results and fairly high running costs, it’s not great value.

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