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Brother MFC-250C multifunction printer

Brother MFC-250C multifunction printer

Brother's budget MFC-250C multifunction printer offers decent print quality and has low running costs.

Brother's MFC-250C multifunction printer is cheap as chips and serves up decent quality photo prints. We would have liked it to print a bit faster, but this multifunction is still a good buy for those who only need the basics.

The Brother MFC-250C is the MFC-290C without the automatic document feeder and media card slots. You are left with a copier, printer, scanner and fax.

Direct printing is still available through a PictBridge-capable USB port, which can be connected to a compatible mobile phone or digital camera. Disappointingly, Brother hasn't included support for direct printing from a USB stick.

Most low-end printers and multifunctions use a combination colour ink cartridge, but the Brother MFC-250C uses separate inks connected to the print head through a capillary tube system. Page yields are fairly low, forcing you to head back to the shops soon after buying the printer, but at 27c per A4 page, running costs are low enough to justify the trip.

Many Brother multifunction printers are slow, so we weren't surprised that this is case with the MFC-250C. The MFC-250C manages to print the first page of draft colour and mono documents in a respectable 13.7sec. The printer achieves a reasonable 15.9 pages per minute for mono draft documents and 14.5ppm when printing colour documents. However, the results are often faint and unreadable. To achieve reasonable results you should use normal quality; you can expect an average speed of 3.2ppm. Standard 4x6in photos take 36.5sec to print, while A4 photos take 1min 36sec.

We found text to be crisp and readable, with no aberrations when printing at 12pt or 20pt. At 7pt, we noticed some slight feathering on text characters, though this is expected due to the multifunction's comparatively large ink droplet size of 1.5 picolitres; higher-end multifunctions like the Canon PIXMA MP980 use 1pl ink droplets. Colours are solid, though aren't as vivid as they could be and lack the accuracy required for professional documents. Nevertheless, the print quality will suffice for school work and small splashes of colour in documents.

Considering the Brother MFC-250C's cheap price, the quality of photo printing exceeded our expectations. Banding is not a problem and colours are attractive if slightly inaccurate. On close inspection there is a noticeable amount of grain and noise in photos, which affects gradients and darker colours. If photo print quality is a priority, then the HP Photosmart C5380 will prove more useful.

The Brother MFC-250C is good enough basic for document scanning. Photos lack fine detail and colour isn't accurate; scans also turn out overly light. There is no automatic document feeder.

The Brother MFC-250C multifunction printer doesn't particularly excel at any one task. However, it has a low price and is adequate at most tasks.

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