Brother has been making neat, well-featured all-in-ones for many years and each new generation gets more refined and useful, though the core piezo inkjet engine is still much the same as before. The MFC-J825DW is near the top end of its new range and includes duplex, direct CD/DVD print and a nifty new bit of software in its feature set. It has also added a jolly little wake-up tune, when the machine is switched on.
With only slightly less glossy black than a plastic baby grand, Brother has broken up the gentle curves of the lid of the machine’s 20-sheet Automatic Document Feeder (ADF) with some subtle line decoration. The middle section of the lid flips over to become a steeply raked paper feed.
In front of the scanner lid is a well organised control panel, with Brother's trademark wide-aspect touchscreen in the centre, flanked by large, illuminated mode buttons to the left and a fax number pad and Start and Stop buttons to the right.
Over the front lip are slots for SD and MemoryStick cards and for PictBridge cameras and USB drives. There's also a pull-down feeder, which pops out to take the CD and DVD carrier for direct disc printing, which is very convenient.
The slide-out, 100-sheet paper cassette has a 20-sheet paper tray built into its top, but you have to remove the cassette and slide the photo tray forward manually, before you can print photos, which is much less convenient
The software bundle includes Nuance PaperPort SE and Brother’s own multifunction suite, but there's a new applet which is possibly more useful than either of these.
Brother’s iPrint&Scan, as the name suggests, prints from phones and tablets via WiFi, but without the need for separate drivers. It isn't the same facility as HP and Kodak have added to their machines, as it doesn't work over the Internet or require the printer to have an individual IP address.
It can, however, both print to and scan from the all-in-one onto a handheld device –there are versions for both iOS and Android – and then crop and rotate images before storing or sending them on. We tried it with a Samsung Galaxy Mini smartphone and were impressed with the program’s speed and convenience.