Multifunctional home office hub

CNET’s positive review of the Brother MFC-685cw Color Inkjet Multi-Function Center caught my attention mainly because of the inexpensive price and all the functions it performs. For a price as low as this ($130), you can’t really expect to have high quality photo printing when the device consolidates so many functions into one product. But, if you are in the market for an all-in-one printer, fax, scanner, copier, phone, answering machine, wireless network interface, and photo printer, this may be for you.

You are sacrificing quality for quantity and run the risk of losing all functionality if one of the devices breaks, but you are saving space. Fewer wires and a smaller footprint for your home office can be beneficial to an uncluttered workspace.

20 Comments for “Multifunctional home office hub”

  1. posted by Nicolas on

    “run the risk of losing all functionality if one of the devices breaks”
    with such a low price, you can buy two “home office hub”, use the first and keep the second as a spare..

  2. posted by Aaron Hayward on

    I first thought that the scanner on this unit probably doesn’t do auto document feeding. However, I found that the 10 page ADF applies to scanning as well.

    Not bad for an all-in-one.

  3. posted by E.T.Cook on

    It is a shame that Brother products are garbage.

  4. posted by justelise on

    Only thing worse than Brother products is their customer service. You may also want to make sure ahead of time that this thing works on digital phone lines. If you have phone service through your cable company, or VoIP services (Vonage, etc.), a lot of Brother products will not work. Such crap.

  5. posted by helix on

    The “all-your-eggs-in-one-basket” danger makes this thing not safe for a home office. The power supply is the most likely thing to crap out, leaving you with an appliance that is about as useful as a brick.

    Anyways, do people still use faxes these days?

    A decent BW laser printer, well-positioned wifi access point, and answering service by phone provider are vastly superior to this thrift-store fodder.

  6. posted by H... on

    i think faxes are still popular with businesses mostly for orders and even documents. Word “all in one” can be decieving. it does not always include everything. Check closely before purchasing. Brother products are so-so. Some cant handle heavy-duty jobs.

  7. posted by TC on

    I have a similar one along with a cheap Samsung ML 2010 laser printer and they cover all my scanning / printing needs. The only thing I could criticize on the brother is speed, it does seem to be slow at every task. That’s why I use the samsung for quick print outs.

  8. posted by Craig on

    How about the Epson Stylus Photo RX595 Photo All-in-One Printer?


    Used to be about $150, now it is $99 at Amazon.

  9. posted by Mer on

    Uh, yeah, people use faxes. I just camped out in front of one for 30 minutes today to send in my Flexible Spending Account claims. And because I faxed them in, they’ve already been approved and a check is scheduled to print end of week.

  10. posted by PNWGal on

    Faxing Services at Kinkos are $1.50+/page which gets steep if you’re faxing anything longer than a page or two–maybe it costs so much because it is such a rare thing these days?

    I had a Brother Laser Printer for nearly 10 years before I needed to replace it. The new ones going three years strong. They are nothing fancy; but they work and pages look good.

  11. posted by Aunt Boo on

    Beware the high cost of replacement cartridges. I have had an HP all-in-one for several years and it functions beautifully. My mother bought a Brother all-in-one. Yes, the initial cost was attractive, but it shuts down and won’t print at all if any one cartridge is low (why can’t I copy in B&W just because the cyan cartridge is low?). The Brother cartridges cost as much as my HP replacements and don’t last half as long.

    It depends on your needs. It works fine for my mom, but would not work for me at all.

  12. posted by Martha on

    I was so impressed with this all in one, I quickly sent this post to my husband and we decided to buy the next one up, the one with the cordless phone. We needed all of those things and let me tell you going to kinko’s every time you need to fax something is a hassle.

    I don’t know anyone that doesn’t use faxes anymore, anything hr related usually involves faxing.

    Will add another comment as soon as it arrives and we test it.

  13. posted by SuperChuck on

    I recently purchased an “older” Epson All-In-One (I want to say an RX-580). For what I use it for, it’s great.

    The printer specs were identical to the Epson inkjet I was looking at, anyway.

    The scanner specs are pretty bad, but for what I’d use it for, it’s fine. I use it to make occasional copies or to scan documents. I don’t scan photos or anything requiring higher resolutions, so I don’t really care about the quality.

    As far as “losing everything” if it dies, there’s no more probability of an All-In-One dying than any component dying. I’ve never have a component die when I don’t need it. They die when you need them.

    However, if you need quality stuff, All-In-Ones are probably not the way to go. The model I have has a good (not great) photo printer and a crappy scanner. When I got it, I was in the market for a good (not great) photo printer, so the scanner/copier was just a bonus. If I needed a scanner, I’d get a separate scanner.

    Bonus Tip: If you do get a separate scanner, an All-In-One’s flat top may double as a space-saving scanner shelf.

  14. posted by Kris on

    I researched one similar to this with a cordless phone option and we’re buying it next week. I’ll fill you in on how it works out.

  15. posted by lanaleprospere on

    Please save yourself the money and don’t buy yourself a Brother All in one. I personall used one for about a year before I got an error 41 which basically makes the machine unusable. Apparently this Error 41 is a common error in the brother AIOs that Brother has acknowledged but doesn’t support.

    I should also mention that if even one of the ink colors runs out on the AIO you can’t print anything at all until that cartridge is replaced. And their ink runs out very quickly because in order for clean printing it requires you to clean the head almost every other day which drains out a little bit of ink at a time.

  16. posted by capucine on

    How interesting this came up; we recently bought this model to save space. I’m pleased with the quality of the photo and regular printing, it is a bit slower than our HP but no big deal. Some of the missing features I would have checked for had I been buying individual devices. Each of my complaints would have been deal-breakers (had I checked). My complaints are very specific:
    – Phone has no mute
    – Answering machine limits how long people can talk
    – No double-sided printing
    – If the phone is in the base when a call comes in, picking it up answers the call; you can’t pick up the handset and check the caller ID first.
    – The base rings, and only on the second ring do the handsets ring and show the caller ID.

    We needed the fax feature – you don’t need one often, but god what a hassle to drive to Kinkos every time you do! People who want you to send a fax often won’t accept a scan via email instead, so now we have one. Problem solved.

  17. posted by Captain Audio on

    You’re getting clobbered on this one. But the AIO’s are a pain AND they take up too much space. Unlike you to recommend this. The answers are easy. Fujitsu Snapscanner 300 (solid as a rock, fast, easy). Then use an online fax service like My printer has been in the closet for 6 months.

  18. posted by Scott on is a minimum of $110 a year, and the scansnap cannot scan anything that’s not sheetfed – so it depends on your needs. Our home has had a multi-function Brother for a few years now – it cost $99 and has networking built in, so it’s easy for my wife and I to both use it.

    We don’t use it a lot, but our needs are such that we:

    1. occasionally need to fax something (5-10 times a year)
    2. occasionally need to make a quick copy of something (sometimes from a bound book)
    3. ocasionally need to scan something (not always sheetfed)
    4. sometimes choose to print out a color version of something (instead of using the BW laser).

    I’d wanted to buy a scanner for a long time, but never wanted to take up the footprint space for one, or spend the money for one just for that, no more often than we needed it. same thing for a fax/copier – wanted one, but didn’t need one enough to spend the money or space on one. When our older color inkjet died, this was a cheap as a color inkjet would be, so it covered that replacement AND all the other needs. Sure, it’s a jack-of-all-trades, master of none – but that fits what we need.

    It all depends on your needs.

  19. posted by Ryan on

    I can’t speak for the AIO, but Brother printers are a pretty good value. We’ve got a very inexpensive Brother mono laser printer that’s held up for several years and while it may not have all the bells and whistles, it has everything we need. Laser refills are generally somewhat pricy, but infrequent.

    If you don’t need the speed or features of the more expensive brands/models then Brother provides good value.

  20. posted by terriok on

    No can opener? ;o)

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