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Brother DCP-J572DW review: Gets the job done... slowly

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
88
Inc VAT

A solid, well-designed multifunction printer for the home, but Brother needs to boost its speeds and raise its game

Pros 
Good, compact design
Easy to set up and use
Duplex printing
Cons 
Slow print speeds
Average photo quality
High running costs
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Modest, functional and unassuming aren’t words to set the heart racing, but they’re a perfect description of Brother’s DCP-J572DW. It’s an all-in-one inkjet printer lacking exciting whizz-bang features, but still compact, solidly built and ready to take on all the tasks you’d expect a modern all-in-one to handle.

For a lot of homes and home offices, that’s going to be enough; the only question will be whether it can handle them as well as – or better than – the competition. This is where the DCP-J572DW’s problems lie. It doesn’t annoy or make any serious mistakes, but it also struggles to stand out.

READ NEXT: Brother MFC-J491DW review

Brother DCP-J572DW review: Design and Setup

Brother’s fuss-free approach starts with the design. We’re looking at an almost square, matt black box with the scanner lid bearing the Brother logo and the front hosting a small 1.8in screen and old-fashioned push-button control panel. You can stack 100 sheets of A4 paper into the cartridge that slides out of the front, or 20 photo sheets of 6 x 4in each. There’s also a manual feed slot for single sheets at the rear that can take light card (up to 300gsm) and larger photo papers.

The printer’s roughly 40cm wide and 32cm deep, so it’s not tiny, but the height of just 14.8cm and its one-box design help it feel smaller and neater than it is. You can leave it on or under a desk and it won’t get in the way, and there aren’t any annoying protrusions to knock, bar the arm for the output tray when it’s extended.

Four individual cartridges slot in at the front, where they sit immobile while feeding ink to the moving printhead through a series of tubes. The cost-per-page comes in at roughly 9.7p per full colour page and 3.4p for mono when using high capacity LC3213 cartridges. That’s relatively expensive by office-focused all-in-one standards but hardly exorbitant. If you want to keep your running costs low, there are cheaper options from HP, Epson and Brother itself.

There’s a slot for SD cards beneath a flap on the front-left corner, and a hidden channel below the scanning module that can route a cable from the back to a USB Type-B port. Sadly, Brother doesn’t include the cable. The scanner lid, meanwhile, is too light to pin documents to the glass (keep something heavy handy if you’re scanning books), but its hinge does give you a little more range when scanning thicker items.

Getting the printer up and running on your wireless network isn’t a problem, once you’ve entered a Wi-Fi key using the cursor keys, and general use is pretty straightforward thanks to the simple, menu-driven interface. Configuring some of the more advanced scan to cloud features can be a faff, though, requiring registration through Brother’s website before you can access OneDrive, Dropbox and the rest. Oddly, you also have to press the right cursor to proceed at some points, where you’d think the OK button would be the more obvious choice.

You can scan and print direct from a tablet or smartphone using Brother’s iPrint app. It’s a shame this can’t do any tricks like print multiple photos on a single A4 sheet, but if you want to quickly print a snap or selfie, it’ll do.

Brother DCP-J572DW review: Performance

Don’t turn to the DCP-J572DW if speed is your primary concern. Black text pages emerged at a stately 6.5ppm while printing graphics-heavy colour pages slowed things down to 3.07ppm – not exactly what you’d call fast. While 6 x 4in colour photos took one minute 47 seconds to arrive, 8 x 10in prints stretched that out to nearly three minutes. This isn’t a printer you want to rely on if you’re in a hurry.

Unlike many printers at this price point, it does have a duplexing unit for double-sided printing. However, the process of outputting the sheet and sucking it back in to do the other side saw mono print speeds fall to 3.18ppm.

The news is better on the scanning and copying front, with A4 mono copies completing in 17 seconds and colour copies in just over 30. A full-page A4 colour scan at 300dpi took 16.3 seconds to complete. Bear in mind, though, that there’s no automatic document feeder, so again it’s not suitable for large volumes of work.

Copies look good and have vibrant colours, even when output to plain paper; scans are strong on detail and fairly accurate on colour reproduction, if a little muddy in darker areas. Black text on plain paper is a little lighter than we’d like, but the edges look crisp and the output’s more than good enough for office documents and homework. Colour graphics look fine on standard office paper, with no obvious smearing or banding issues and no soaking of the paper.

Photo quality isn’t bad for an all-in-one printer at this price, and the colours are neither too punchy nor too flat and dreary. The biggest complaint you can make is that there’s not much dynamic range when it comes to highlights. Light blue skies can appear near-white on the printed page while lighter areas of a photo tend to lose their tone and detail. Again, though, we’re not talking about anything disastrous, and we’ve seen a lot worse from home office MFPs.

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Brother DCP-J572DW review: Verdict

The DCP-J572DW is a perfectly likeable multifunction printer. Sure, it’s a bit on the slow side and it could be cheaper to run, but it’s not meant to be a fully fledged office printer. It’s compact, well designed and hard to fault when it comes to paper-handling and general ease of use. Its biggest problem is that it doesn’t excel in any way. It’s not particularly cheap and you don’t have to spend a whole lot more to find something faster or with lower running costs. The HP OfficeJet Pro 6970 has its issues, but it’s better on both counts. Ditto the Canon Pixma TS6250, which produces better photos. Being okay isn’t good enough; if it wants to beat the best home all-in-ones, Brother’s going to have to raise its game.

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