Brother DCP-375CW wireless multifunction inkjet printer
Compact and stylish MFD photo printer, anyone?
Review Product design has clearly moved on leaps and bounds since the early days of popular multifunctional devices (MFDs), judging by the Brother DCP-375CW. Not only does it look rather swanky in its dual-finish matt and shiny black casing, but it is extraordinarily compact at just 150mm high, 390mm wide and 360mm deep. How Brother managed to cram a full A4 scanner in there is still a mystery.
Brother's DCP-375CW: certainly stylish, but watch out for finger marks on that shiny plastic
The scanning plate is hidden under the curved top of the unit, the lid fitting flush with the rest of the plastic case. If you didn't know the scanner was there, you would think the DCP-375CW was just a printer. The lid itself rises, rather than just hinges open, thereby allowing you to scan thick originals while keeping the lid flat. The active scanning area is 297 x 215.9mm, minus 3mm on all edges, which you may conclude is an acceptable sacrifice: it caused us no practical problems, anyway.
Towards the front of the scanner lid is the main control pad. This principally comprise a set of copy buttons that control functions such as resizing, quality and quantity, along with Colour and Mono options and clearly labelled Stop button.
There are additional buttons for navigating menus with the single-line, 16-character LCD status window. This window is not backlit and is frankly impossible to read unless you stand directly in front of the device and look down onto it. Further buttons allows you to operate the scanner and access images on any camera card you have inserted.
Camera cards are inserted into a single slot at the front of the case, just below the control pad. There is no PictBridge port. Supporting Secure Digital, Memory Stick and xDigital formats, the slot accepts one card at a time.
The input slot supports Secure Digital, Memory Stick and xDigital camera cards
There is no preview window so you are prompted to print out image thumbnail sheets instead and then choose which photos to print by their index numbers. This is much less troublesome than it sounds and the process is easy to follow.
You can also use the slot as a straightforward card adapter for downloading photos to your computer using the software provided. One especially smart feature allows you to save your scans directly to a camera card in JPG or PDF formats with pixel resolution of up to 600dpi.
No PictBridge support but Wi-Fi included as standard
The paper input cassette is accessed from the front with the output tray on top. The input cassette holds just 100 sheets but is designed flush with the rest of the case. The output tray holds 50 sheets and extends forwards to keep the printouts flat while they dry.
Each of the black, cyan, magenta and yellow inks are sold in separate cartridges, and these slot behind a door at the front, just to the right of the paper trays. Although it is supposed to be efficient to keep the inks separate, each cartridge is quite small: the colour inks are rated good for just 260 sides of A4 business documents, while the slightly larger black cartridge can run to 300 sides.
At the lowest possible prices currently being offered, and ignoring the cost of the paper, this means each four-colour A4 printout will cost about 8p. Remember, this is for documents with only 5% ink coverage. As soon as you start printing photos, the per-item cost is going to rocket. The cheapest way to buy the inks is as a set of four (costing £41.39), which makes you wonder why they are supplied in separate cartridges at all.
USB and 10/100BaseTx Ethernet ports are incorporated inside the machine rather than at the rear. The DCP-375CW is also a wireless device but setting up the Wi-Fi connection is very fiddly due to the tiny LCD status window and the lack of a numeric keypad to configure the network addresses.
The inks are loaded as four separate cartridges into slots hidden conveniently behind a door at the front
In use, the DCP-375CW produced some beautiful photo prints on a variety of stock. Its 1200x2400dpi high-resolution, borderless output onto glossy 6x4 photo cards was especially impressive and full of detail. However, the hi-res output was extremely slow, with large photo images being printed to A4 occasionally dropping the Wi-Fi connection before completion.
For everyday documents, Brother quotes a speed of 33 pages per minute (ppm) for black only or 27ppm in colour. Our tests reported that a black-only A4 sheet of text took 27 seconds to output, while 10 copies took rather more than three minutes. 'Fast' mode brought this down to 13 seconds and 41 seconds respectively, suggesting a real-world top speed of around 20ppm.
Great value for £100 printer, but running costs can easily mount
Using the copier function was simple and effective, with the scanner responding immediately without any waiting around for the lamp to warm up. The scanner has an optical resolution of 600dpi and produced decent scans but we were unable to measure its hardware performance accurately due to the product's automatic image enhancement routines.
Without doubt, the Brother DCP-375CW is one of the finest MFDs you can buy in its price range, and it looks damn smart too. Issues such as speed and the cost of consumables apply to just about any inkjet, but do be aware that lots of borderless photos will drink up all your ink quickly. Any other doubts we might have had were swept away by Brother's generous inclusion of Wi-Fi connectivity as standard – a great feature in any printer. ®
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