hardware/brother665cw.jpgAll-in-one, multi-function printers have become the rage with home and small business computer users. Why not, they now offer a myriad of features at very reasonable prices. Yet, each manufacturer and each model can vary greatly in capabilities. So purchasing an all-in-one requires some investigation on the part of the end user. I set out to find the most full-featured all-in-one available, and I think I found it.

The Brother MFC-665CW  is a printer, fax, scanner, copier, telephone, and answering machine.  Yet at 15 x 18 x 7 inches, it is compact, well-designed, and has a myriad of useful features.

First of all, it has 3 ways to hook up to the computer: by direct USB to computer, by an Ethernet wired network, or by a wireless network. You must choose your connection type upon installation. If you change your connection method, as I did in my testing, it is best to remove and reinstall the software stipulating the new type of connection. This is an important thing to note since many users may have the tendency to connect the device directly at first to try it out and may later want to add it to their network.

Set up is straightforward, but somewhat time consuming. Instructions are clear, even for a security-encrypted network. You may be perplexed, as I was to find that the USB connection is somewhat hidden under the scanner cover. You must snake the cable through a trench. While this is not difficult, it does take up cable length. The USB cable is not included, so when you purchase one, make sure that it is at least a foot longer than you may think you need.

The printer itself performs admirably, although a bit slower than some. It is rated to print up to 27ppm black and 22ppm color. The paper tray is located under the front panel and while it is said to hold 100 sheets, 50-70 sheets seem to be its limit. A built-in 2.5" color LCD display tilts for easy viewing. The printer controls are slightly angled and rubberized, making them easy to see and press.

The printer is PictBridge-compatible so you can hook up your PictBridge digital camera directly. It also takes most media cards, so you can print directly from your card or the camera by using the LCD screen. On-screen menus are easy to follow. The quality of text was good, picture quality was amazingly good, but the photos all had a washed-out look. While you can certainly use this printer for pictures, it would be best to use some additional software since the included software offers little functionality to print different picture sizes. The photo bypass tray holds up to 20 sheets of 4"x 6" photo paper on top of the regular paper. For other photo sizes, you have to remove the regular paper and insert the photo paper. The printer holds 4 separate print cartridges.

You can scan documents from the glass platen. The top adjusts to accommodate books and magazines that are not too thick. There is also a document feeder that can take up to 10 sheets of regular or legal size paper. ScanSoft Paper Port Se is included for OCR of scanned documents. Paperport software is included for the PC. This software is excellent for organizing your scans. Presto! PageManager is included for the Mac. If you have networked the printer you can select the computer that you want the scan sent to or you can start the scan with desktop software on any computer on the network.

The Brother MFC-665CW comes with its own telephone handset. The buttons near the phone are easy to use, marked "play/record", "erase", and "speakerphone". The built-in answering machine holds up to 29 minutes of messages. It supports Caller-ID and call waiting, so this device can become your main telephone, if you like. If you put the device on a wireless network, you can have it anywhere in the house or office since it won't be tethered to a computer.

Sending and receiving faxes is easy. It's even easy to create a cover page. This all-in-one is also a color copier offering multi-copying and reduction or enlargement from 25% to 400%. The fax machine supports caller ID and distinctive ring modes, auto dialing and 32MB of memory for storage. So you don't need a PC for faxing, but you can set up PC faxing if you like. You can set the machine to answer faxes only or faxes and phone calls.

This Brother multi-function machine also covers multiple operating systems. It supports Windows NT/2000/XP/ Vista. It supports Mac OS X and there are even Linux drivers available.

At a street price of about $150, the Brother is not perfect, but you certainly do get a lot for your money.

Manufacturer: Brother International

Date of Review: August 10, 2007

Retail Price: $179.99