Brother DCP-J774DW review

Inexpensive but effective inkjet printing

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Our Verdict

This little Brother could be a big help around the office thanks to its accurate inkjet printing and fairly fast duplex page rate. It’s also very easy-to-use, either via its touchscreen interface, or through the helpful app.

For

  • Accurate glossy photo printing
  • Easy setup
  • Respectable print speed of 12 ppm
  • Compact and convenient design

Against

  • No Ethernet port (Wi-Fi only)
  • Limited functionality when printing from USB port
  • Small paper in-tray
  • Tiny touchscreen keyboard makes typing tricky

This is a modest inkjet printer in terms of both size and price – it retails at around £145 (about $195) – and its paper size is limited to A4. There’s no fax functionality here either, but with the ability to scan, copy and print on both sides of the page, it’s enough to suit many small offices.

This device also carries a number of features and specifications that will help productivity such as a surprisingly deep 100-sheet paper tray, and fairly swift 12 pages per minute print speed.

The helpful companion app and intuitive touchscreen interface could also improve your workflow by saving time spent figuring out how to make the thing work. Ease of use is this printer’s strongest suit. 

Design and build

The compact design of the Brother DCP-J774DW makes it very easy to accommodate on the corner of a desk, and it all folds up very neatly if you prefer to put the printer in a drawer when not in use. The innocuous grey color also helps it blend into the background.

Two design points that impressed us were the tilting color touchscreen that clicks reassuringly through four positions, and the concealed square USB-B port, which is located underneath the scanner bed with neat cable management to the rear. We would never have found it if we didn’t know that this device had one.

A flat USB-A port and an SD card slot are located behind a flap at the front. A similar front flap on the right-hand side gives access to the four ink cartridges.

The rear paper tray takes just one sheet at a time and has an extending piece of plastic to support it, while all other paper and envelopes can be loaded into the tray at the front.

Spec Sheet

Here are the full specs of the Brother DCP-J774DW:

Type: A4 multifunction inkjet printer  

Functions: Print, copy, scan

Ink: Color (C, M, Y, BK) cartridges included

Connectivity: Wi-Fi, USB 3.0

Data storage slot: USB, SD Card

Print speed: 12 ppm (black & white)

Main paper tray capacity: 100 sheets 

Print quality: 6,000 x 1,200 dpi

Scan quality: 1,200 x 1,200 dpi

Apple AirPrint: Yes

Google Cloud Print: Yes

App support: Yes

Consumables included: 4 ink cartridges

Size/Weight: 400 x 341 x 151mm (H x W x D); 6.6kg

Features

In addition to the print, copy and scan functionality that define this 3-in-1 machine, you’ll also find Wi-Fi connectivity, a 2.7-inch color touchscreen display, duplex printing and a 100-sheet paper tray. The free companion app called Brother iPrint & Scan is particularly user-friendly.

This device can print onto glossy inkjet paper at an impressive 6,000 x 1,200 dpi resolution and scan at 1,200 x 1,200 dpi, which is enough to produce and capture professional-looking photographs. Paper size is limited to A4, but it can accept all kinds of photo paper and envelope sizes.

It also claims to offer a range of Brother apps via the touchscreen, although these really just make it possible to do things like scan to email and enlarge text, and they aren’t really apps that you can add to your interface as with Xerox ConnectKey.

Setup and operation

Like most printers, there’s a helpful setup wizard to walk you through the procedure which tells you when to insert the four bundled ink cartridges. The process involves printing out a test sheet to visibly check the printer heads are all in line and firing properly. It’s reassuring and incredibly easy, but not fast, because it takes six minutes for the printer to go through its own initiation process.

The only problem we experienced was when the printer failed to update its own firmware, even though the companion app seemed convinced an update was available.  Also, typing passwords into the tiny on-screen display proved difficult for our fat fingers.

In use, this printer is very straightforward and we found printing from a computer or a mobile device presented no problems. The only limitation came when trying to print directly from the front USB port. It seems you can choose almost every print setting via the touchscreen, except for the orientation. So portrait and landscape photos frequently appear the wrong way round.

Performance

We found that Word documents in black and white appeared crisp and consistent, and while the printer churned away steadily, the pages were thrust out with a final burst of speed. We have no complaints, given the cost, but you can achieve more delicate type with a laser printer (and at a much faster print speed).

Color documents on plain paper also look fine and print only a little slower at a rate of 12 pages per minute. Most impressive, however, is the quality of photos printed on glossy inkjet paper. At its finest setting, you can achieve surprisingly vivid, professional-level prints.

The scanner also captures documents and photos in impressive detail, but oddly, there doesn’t seem to be a way to adjust the scanning resolution, so everything is grabbed at 1,200 x 1,200 dpi.

Final verdict

For such an affordable and unassuming inkjet printer, there’s a lot to like about the Brother DCP-J774DW. Firstly, the design and build make it easy to connect and accommodate, but it’s also easy-to-use thanks to the touchscreen interface and smartphone app.

It’s not the fastest printer around and is limited by its 100-sheet A4-sized paper tray, but this device prints reliably and achieves surprisingly lifelike glossy photos.