Brother MFC-820CW Review - Brother MFC-820CW Review


As well as the drivers for the printer and scanner, and for uploading photos via its memory cards, Brother supplies copies of PaperPort and, more interestingly, Systran Web Translator 5. This application provides translation of printed text from any of 12 languages to English. It can be used in combination with the OCR software in PaperPort provided with the machine to translate foreign printed pages, but can also be used on Web sites, which is a useful bonus.

Printing on the MFC-820CW is not quick. Our five-page text document completed in one minute 37 seconds with the machine connected via USB 2.0, giving a page rate of just over 3ppm. The mixed text and graphics pages took two minutes 59 seconds, giving just 1.7ppm. Times were even slower with a wireless network link, coming in at 1:51 and 4:51, respectively. Printing our 15 x 10cm photo took 3:39 with the driver set to ‘photo’ mode, but when we switched to ‘best’ mode, it took a cup-of-coffee inducing 8:44.

Fortunately, there’s little difference in the output quality of photo and best modes, so little reason to use best. Our photo prints were smooth and well detailed. There was little dithering and no banding apparent and dark colours were as well reproduced as lighter ones. Text and graphics prints were also clean and showed very little feathering. Some slight bleed of black text over coloured backgrounds was the only fault we could raise.

The copy quality of the machine is better than most, with colours coming through close to the originals, with only slight lightening. Detail levels are a little lower on the copies, but no worse than copies on other makes of all-in-one.

The four ink cartridges are the only consumable cost on this machine and we printed 426, five per cent pages from the black tank, a little below the rated 500 pages, but still good. Colour ink lasted even longer; we managed 645 pages against the rating of 400 pages, giving page costs of 3.07p for black and 36.5p for colour. The black print costs are above average, though not out of order, but the colour costs are at the high end of the ink-jet all-in-ones we’ve tested.


This is a neat, well-designed all-in-one machine, which produces above average prints, but in its own time. There’s nothing particularly quick about the MFC-820CW, but if your printing needs are occasional, this may not worry you. The extras, like fax handling, photo card readers and the translation software, add a good bit of value to the machine.

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