Brother MFC-655CW

This Brother MFC-655CW boasts faxing, scanning, copying and printing functions while also supporting memory card facilities and an Ethernet port as well as 802.11b/g wireless networking. The sleek design and a front-loading paper-cassette also means it won't take up too much desktop space either.

We found the integrated 802.11b/g wireless networking function in the MFC-655CW to be well implemented. It's the easiest to set up of all the wireless printers that we've reviewed thus far.

Initial setup is done through the menu system on the unit itself, where the wireless network needs to be selected as the enabled network function (as the unit also has a LAN port) and then the SSID and encryption details of your wireless network need to be entered. We used WPA-PSK encryption with an AES algorithm. The MFC-665CW also supports WPA2 and WEP encryption methods and can be used in ad-hoc mode, if you don't have an access point.

To access the MFC-665CW wirelessly from all the PCs and notebooks on your network, you must install the drivers for the multi-function device on all of them. Brother has made this process easy; simply make sure that your notebook or PC is connected to your wireless network, and then run the supplied installation CD. Elect to install the software suite and tell it that you will be installing through a 'wireless network connection'. The driver installation will proceed with minimal user interaction and one restart will be required. After that, your MFC-665CW will be installed and set as the default printer.

Not only will you be able to print to the MFC-665CW wirelessly, but you will also be able to send scans from the printer itself to any machine on your wireless network. Simply place your document on the flatbed scanner and click on the 'scan' button. Then, select the option to scan to a PC and a list of all the PCs on your network will be displayed. The Brother Control Centre 3 software will launch automatically on the destination PC and the scan will be sent using the specified image settings in the software suite.

In a similar vein, received faxes can be set up to be received by any PC on your network. When faxes come in, they can be stored in memory, instead of printed out, and then sent to the PC that you have selected in the MFC-665CW's settings.

Unfortunately, inserted memory cards can't be read over the network, but can only be used as an easy way to print out photos from your digital camera. Photos on memory cards can be adjusted before printing, using the MFC-665CW's in-built PhotoCapture Centre settings (contrast, brightness and crop settings can be adjusted) and scans can also be directly saved onto memory cards when using the 'scan to' button on the unit. You can also use PictBridge support is also as well and it functions in the same manner as the memory card.

The scan and print quality of documents is very good. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software is supplied, too, and allows you to easily convert text from scanned documents (our tests showed it to be 100 per cent accurate when deciphering printed text). A typical five-page Word document will print over an 802.11g network in 2min 1sec using the printer's 'normal' print quality settings though this is slow when compared to other units like the Canon MP600R.

Individual print cartridges for cyan, yellow, magenta and black colours are easily accessible from the machine (they are not located on the printhead itself) and capillary tubes are used to transfer the ink from these cartridges to the printhead. The print quality witnessed on our test documents was slightly feathered, but not overly rich and was comfortable to read.

An automatic document feeder is present for scanning and faxing multi-page documents, while the scanner lid has rising hinges for scanning thick source material.

All up, the functionality of this unit is excellent. We found it easy to set up and use on our wireless network and its print quality wasn't too shabby, either. We think it's a very good buy, especially if you're considering a wireless multi-function device for a small or home office

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