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.

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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.

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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.

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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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