The DCP-540CN (£132 inc. VAT) is part of the recently redesigned Brother MFD range where the four ink tanks reside behind a flap on the front of the printer. Previously you had to open the top of the printer, which could be awkward if it was placed between two shelves.
The paper tray has been redesigned as a split-level device, so A4 paper goes at the bottom as usual with 6 x 4-inch paper above it in a dedicated paper guide. When you want to print 6 x 4-inch photos, you slide the guide forwards so the paper can be picked up; however, we found this caused paper jams, which suggests the theory is better than the practice.
The N suffix on the model code indicates that this printer has a 10/100 network function, which carries a £35 (inc. VAT) premium over the USB-only DCP-330C. Brother has continued to route both the USB and network cables through a channel in the printer casing, while the power plug is on the side, so this family of printers can be housed in an extremely restricted space.
Once you have installed MFL-Pro Suite, ScanSoft PaperPort SE and Presto! PageManager, the drivers include a 'click to update' button which then asks how you connect to the internet. The three options are LAN, dial-up and AOL.
Claimed print speed is 30ppm for mono and 20ppm for colour, but our tests show that these figures are wishful thinking as we achieved true figures of 3ppm. Text quality is adequate, but it could have done with being clearer and sharper. Colour printing is much more successful, as the quality is good and the speed is in line with the other printers.
Photo printing is of a high quality, but takes an age, which is a shame as Brother includes a PictBridge port and card reader, so clearly it is keen for you to print photos.