Brother MFC-845CW

  • Editors' rating
    8.0 Excellent


  • Slimline profile
  • Integrated wired and wireless (802.11b/g) Ethernet
  • DECT handset included


  • Average print and scan quality

In response to the growing trend for working at home (either permanently or intermittently), Brother recently launched a new range of stylish multifunction devices. As well as the usual printing, scanning and copying, the MFC-845CW offers fax functionality, integrated 802.11b/g wireless networking and a DECT handset.

The silver-and-black MFC-845CW measures 39.8cm wide by 37cm deep by 18cm high, weighs 8kg and has a solid enough build quality to cope with relatively demanding use — unlike most competing inkjet-based 'all-in-one' devices. It's also the first product in its category to offer a combination of built-in Ethernet, wireless 802.11b/g connectivity and a 5.8GHz DECT handset — creating the ultimate wireless solution for any home office or small office. Although integrated Wi-Fi is not uncommon in printers, the technology has generally been the preserve of office-bound lasers. However, wireless is proving popular with home workers as it provides the flexibility to work from a notebook computer anywhere in the home. Office workers are also enjoying the freedom and space that a cable-free environment offers.

Users will also appreciate Brother’s PhotoCapture Centre, which allows you to slot a photo memory card (CompactFlash, xD-Picture Card Type M/Type H, Memory Stick/Pro, MMC and SD) directly into the machine and print index sheets with thumbnail-size images for selection. You can then print your chosen photograph in a variety of sizes. It comes with a borderless print feature that allows you to create photo-style images. As with all previous Brother inkjets, the MFC-845CW uses single ink cartridges; this means a cost saving because, unlike combined cartridges, when one colour runs out it can be replaced separately. The new range offers a one-year on-site warranty — an important feature for business users who cannot afford downtime.

Brother printers rarely lead the market in terms of speed and output quality. Even so, the MFC-845CW’s relatively fast print speed, standalone fax and copy capability, plus integrated 2.5in. flip-up colour LCD display offer a value currently unmatched by the competition. The impressive base functionality (shared with the recently announced MFC-240C, MFC-440CN and MFC-665CW models) includes colour printing, colour copying, colour scanning, colour faxing, and PC Fax send; you can also scan JPEG, PDF and TIFF files to flash memory cards, plus there’s a PictBridge interface.

The MFC-845CW prints at up to 27ppm (black) and 22ppm (colour), at resolutions up to 6,000 by 1,200dpi using droplet sizes as small as 1.5 picolitres. Should you want to print photographs, the photo bypass tray holds up to 20 sheets of 4-by-6in. glossy paper, while the 10-page auto document feeder allows for unattended faxing, copying and scanning. There’s also a bright 2.5in. flip-up colour LCD for setting up and managing the device, a matching 5.8GHz cordless telephone handset (expandable up to total of four handsets) and a built-in message centre that includes a digital answering machine (stores up to 29 minutes) and a full duplex speakerphone.

The presence of both Ethernet and 802.11b/g Wi-Fi means you can either connect the MFC-845CW to a wireless router via an Ethernet cable or print wirelessly in either infrastructure or ad hoc mode. This gives you the ability to share printing, scanning, faxing and media card access with multiple users on your network. The wireless feature also allows you to place the device in the most convenient location.

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To help maximise user productivity and space efficiency, Brother has integrated a 5.8GHz DECT handset. The handset has a backlit LCD and you can add another three handsets for your colleagues; 3-way calling is possible — between handsets, the base and handsets, or external three-way conference calls. Additional handsets (BCL-D10) are available separately for £59.99 (ex. VAT).

Brother’s MFC-845CW has plenty of technological advantages, but its sleek, compact design and well-engineered construction will also be appreciated, as will its sheer value for monry. Wi-Fi, Ethernet, standalone faxing and an automatic document feeder are just some of the functions many other manufacturers do not include at this price point.

Although the quality of photographic prints and scans are far behind the likes of Canon and Epson, the 4-colour MFC-845CW’s strength is its ability to execute a range of core duties effortlessly. Text on plain paper is a little fuzzy, so you’ll have to invest in decent paper and set the print quality to maximum when printing materials for potential customers. Note, though, that inkjet printing is expensive compared to monochrome laser printing. The MFC-845CW’s Innobella inks have yields of up to just 500 pages for black and 400 pages for each colour cartridge (based on 5 per cent page coverage). Costs per page work out at roughly 2.1p for black and 7.1p for colour.