The primary attraction of any all-in-one device is simply a matter of size, and in this regard the MFC-660CN does not disappoint at just 468 x 370 x 180mm and weighing 8.5kg.
We can remember having a fax machine that was bigger, and heavier, than this just a few years ago! The secondary attraction is hinted at in the name, that multi-functionality, and once again satisfaction is guaranteed here as you get a full colour inkjet printer and photo printer with network capability and memory card readers, that network facility extending to the flatbed scanner and standalone fax machine functionality. Then there’s the photocopying, the hands free telephone and digital answering machine to consider.
Yes, it does all of these things, but it doesn’t do any of them with a sense of superiority. That is the price you pay for convenience, and at around £175 you would be hard pressed to come up with separate devices for less that would come anywhere near the levels of performance found here.
But, and it really is an opera diva sized but, there are much faster inkjets, much higher quality photo printers, much more fully featured answering machines, and more flexible scanners.
Not that the MFC-660CN does anything particularly badly, you understand. Black and white printing can reach a maximum 27 pages per minute, colour up to 22 pages. Colour photo printing is much, much slower and despite the claimed maximum 6000 x 1200dpi print resolution the results of our photo prints were a tad disappointing, lacking in colour vibrancy compared to many standalone photo printers.
You do get a 20 sheet photo paper feeder, a 2.5-inch colour LCD for previewing images direct from the memory card (multi-card reader built-in) or camera (via PictBridge connection) and accessing menu functions. A nice touch is the inclusion of a facility to print out thumbnail index sheets directly from a memory card.
The device is also network ready, which is nice, but not wireless which is a shame. And talking of shame, the 100 sheet paper capacity would have us screaming very quickly as it really doesn’t take long to get through that sort of volume even in a small home office.
The telephony is certainly adequate for this kind of environment, with an auto document feeding fax (up to 10 sheets) and a modem speed of 14,400, all without the need for a PC to be running as this is a proper grown up standalone fax. The telephone itself has 80 speed dial slots and a digital answering machine all built-in, plus duplex speakerphone to allow both parties to be heard at the same time.
Other office functions are equally well supported, so there is flatbed photocopying which allows for enlarging or reducing of documents in 1% increments between 25 – 400%. The scanner will scan to email, OCR, file or print with a maximum interpolated resolution of 19200dpi (600 x 2400dpi non-interpolated).
This Brother device uses single colour ink cartridges, so there is no wasteful throwing away of unused ink to pollute the environment which is good. A black cartridge will give around 500 pages @ 5% coverage for £15, while the Cyan, Magenta and Yellow cartridges provide 400 for £8.50 at the same coverage rate.
Yet despite all this, truth be told we would rather sacrifice a little table space and have a better photo printer, a decent laser for documents, and a fully featured cordless telephone answering combo. Trouble is, we wouldn’t have anywhere to put the flatbed scanner then…
Falls into the jack of all trades but master of none category, yet for the home office it remains an attractive space saving option and offers good value for money.