Given the number of printers and MFDs (multifunction devices) rolling off the assembly lines every year, it's easy to forget how much thought goes into designing new models. Until you see a product of the calibre of the Brother DCP-130C, that is.

MFDs in this price bracket are often cheaply built and laid out for maximum inconvenience. Well, not this one. For a start, the DCP-130C has been put together so that as much as possible can be performed from the front. Even ink is installed using a hyper-convenient front-mounted compartment.

Lots of cheap MFDs are marred by flimsy paper feeds, but the Brother comes with a fully fledged paper tray. Admittedly, this isn't as robust as the kind of tray you'd expect to find on a £200 model (nor as capacious), but it's still a huge improvement on what you'd usually get with an £80 MFD. Chuck in a PictBridge port and a memory card drive, and it's hard to see what else Brother could have built in considering the modest price tag.

The resolutions might not be as high as on some models, but there's still plenty of detail. The DCP-130C passes the test on performance, too. The quoted figures may be a little optimistic, but the Brother still packs plenty of speed.

Text produced at a rate of 9.9ppm (pages per minute) was faint but still quite clear, while solid text quality is possible at a rate of 5.3ppm. The graphics are also pretty colourful, although you will need to allow for just 1.5ppm in order to get really good results.

The Brother also works fairly well as a scanning device, producing reasonably accurate colours at competitive rates. It's certainly not the most feature-packed or highest performing of scanning components, but for the money, the facilities are solid.

Brother DCP-130C: Specs

  • Max print resolution 1,200x600dpi
  • optical scanner resolution 1,200dpi
  • quoted print speed B=25ppm C=20ppm
  • actual print speed B=9.9ppm C=6.5ppm
  • USB 2.0
  • ink costs B=£13 C=£7 x 3
  • print life (pages) B=500 C=400 x 3
  • flash memory drive
  • digicam port
  • 1-year onsite warranty
  • 398x360x150mm
  • 7.1kg
  • Max print resolution 1,200x600dpi
  • optical scanner resolution 1,200dpi
  • quoted print speed B=25ppm C=20ppm
  • actual print speed B=9.9ppm C=6.5ppm
  • USB 2.0
  • ink costs B=£13 C=£7 x 3
  • print life (pages) B=500 C=400 x 3
  • flash memory drive
  • digicam port
  • 1-year onsite warranty
  • 398x360x150mm
  • 7.1kg

OUR VERDICT

Overall, HP's PhotoSmart C3180 is perhaps preferable on print quality. However, the Brother is very impressive, and if you're more interested in robust paper feeding and convenient design, this is a strong contender.

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