The good: Economical LED engine; wireless connectivity; easy installation; prints high-quality color documents; supports manual duplexing.
The bad: Slow print speeds .
The bottom line: If you print a high volume of monochrome and color documents, the Dell 1350cnw color laser printer delivers strong results with a variety of wired and wireless networking options. As long as you're patient with its sluggish output speed and small LED screen, we recommend the Dell 1350cnw for use in a small business or home office.
Suitable for Mac and Windows operating systems, the Dell 1350cnw is a capable, reliable laser printer with a maximum 3,000-page-per-month duty cycle that makes it a suitable accessory for a medium- to high-output environment like a home office or a small to midsize business. With its price already lowered to $299 USD since its release, the device costs as much as the HP Color LaserJet CP1215, but Dell offers more extras by way of built-in Wi-Fi, USB connectivity, and an Ethernet port for networking the printer with several mahines at once. We have nitpicky complaints about the print speeds and the minimal software offering, but the quibbles certainly don't undermine our recommendation of this printer.
Design and features:
Laser printers are typically built around a standard design model that conforms to someone's idea of how a professional office should look, and the Dell 1350cnw adheres to that model with a simple rectangular design and a matte black scheme. The printer weighs about 24 pounds, so it's certainly not easy to transport, but not beyond the capacity of one person to move around.
Aside from its squared-off shape, the top of the 1350cnw is similar to HP's Color LaserJet CP1215, with an output tray on top that can hold up to 100 sheets of plain paper and a small control panel featuring a two-line monochrome LCD and seven buttons that make up the control panel just beneath the display. You get the usual array of buttons: four directional controls, an Enter key, and two buttons that let you access the virtual menu and cancel a job in progress. Dell gives you plenty of paper control options through the LCD as well: you can set paper size or input paper type, select advanced features, and change resolution settings, among other things. The features are nothing special, but the wireless connectivity adds functionality we don't usually see in laser printers at this price.
Near the bottom of the printer, you'll find a tray that folds down to reveal a 150-sheet paper input drawer with tabs that slide to adjust for a variety of media types including plain 20-pound paper, coated paper, envelopes, and labels. Dell also gives you another option for loading single sheets of nonstandard media, such as transparencies or labels.
The back of the printer has a flap that unfolds to serve as an output tray for media fed through the bypasser; this is also where you would look to mitigate a paper jam, although we encountered no jamming in our testing.
Most laser printers have a door on top of the device that pops up to reveal the toner bay, but the 1350cnw moves the access door to the right side, so take note of this to prevent obstruction in your workspace. The 13550cnw takes one black cartridge and three color cartridges for cyan, magenta, and yellow, and Dell gives you a full spread to start off.
Each cartridge yields 700 pages, which factors out to 7.1 cents per black page and 7.8 cents per page of color. These prices fall within the average cost of consumables for an office-worthy printer, and Dell also sells high-capacity toner cartridges at a discount--$70 USD for more than double the page yield maximum of the standards.
The 1350cnw gives you several options for connecting it to a base computer. The back of the printer has a USB port for direct connectivity as well as a 10/100 Ethernet port for networking several computers with the built-in Web server. The printer ships with a Quick Reference Guide that offers installation recommendations for IT professionals using the 1350cnw in a corporate environment.
The 1350cnw also includes Wi-Fi, which we rarely see in corporate-friendly laser printers since most are expected to use Ethernet for multiple users. Still, we approve of this addition and it's always convenient to have options.
The Dell 1350cnw isn't the fastest in our comparison speed tests in the chart below, but it performed consistently and competently with little deviation between each type of document. It printed an impressive 11.4 pages of plain black text pages per minute and scored similarly throughout. It's still not quite as fast as the OKI C3600n in terms of black text, color graphics, and printing a 10-page Powerpoint presentation, but you'll notice little difference between the two unless you're printing out a stack of pages. We also rarely see such consistent performance across all four speed tests, and the Dell performed nearly as quickly when printing color text pages as it did for a full page of color graphics.
Compared with other color laser printers, the Dell 1350cnw got an excellent rating in grayscale text and graphics as well as full-color graphics documents. Smaller fonts that would normally appear illegible printed by cheaper models appear dark and crisp using the Dell; monochromatic graphics illustrate the same attention to detail, with smooth gradients and adequate depth in portraits and photographs--we should note that the best-quality color laser won't deliver the level of detail you would get from a five-cartridge inkjet printer, but the 1350cnw still satisfied our expectations and we'd certainly recommend the output quality for professional handouts.
Service and support
The standard warranty for the Dell 1350cnw lasts one year, but you can upgrade it to up to four additional years. Dell provides free, toll-free phone support 24-7, but it recommends trying the live online chat option first. For less urgent inquiries, you can e-mail Dell's support team or check out its user forums. Dell's Web site also has product-specific support in the form of online user guides, drivers and software downloads, and a troubleshooting tool.
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