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Dell 5330dn review

Verdict

A speedy workgroup mono laser with low running costs, plus plenty of expansion options.

Review Date: 16 Dec 2008

Reviewed By: Dave Mitchell

Price when reviewed: £549 (£631 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

Performance
4 stars out of 6

Dell's aim to be a one-stop shop for all your networking needs was extended to printers some time ago, and it now offers a solid range of mono and colour models. The latest 5330dn mono laser targets busy workgroups and offers a speedy 48ppm print speed, teams this up with duplexing, and provides plenty of expansion options.

The starting price of £549 exc VAT looks good value and running costs won't break the bank, either. The standard toner cartridge is good for 10,000 pages, while a high-yield version stretches to 20,000, so you can opt for printing costs of 0.7p or 0.5p per page. Dell doesn't ship the printer with a half-empty "starter" cartridge, as the price includes a full capacity standard cartridge, but note it will be getting repeat business for consumables, as the printer is designed to accept only Dell's toner cartridges.

Network installation is a swift process, as the bundled tool locates the printer and offers to install the drivers and management utilities. The print server provides a web interface where you can monitor toner levels, change network settings or add an IP address filter list. There's a quick link to Dell's website to order more toner, and this option is also available from a pop-up status display that can be loaded on each workstation.

Dell delivers in the speed stakes, with a basic 50-page Word document whisked through in just 1min 2secs for an average of 48ppm. It handled more complex documents just as well, with our 24-page DTP print with charts, graphics and photos delivered in 30 seconds. The built-in duplexer is accessed from the driver panel, where you can opt for printing on the long or short side of the page and reverse the order as well.

For general text the 5330dn offers good print quality, with fonts pin-sharp across a wide range of sizes. Reports with simple pie and bar graphs are also handled well, with no banding to spoil your sales pitch. Photos are a different matter, as we found excessive banding was all too evident. The printer offers a 1,200dpi interpolated setting, which had no impact on speed. Unfortunately, it had no impact on quality, either, as we could see little difference between this and the 600dpi sample.

The standard paper capacity can be doubled by adding a second tray, and increased further with a 2,100 paper drawer. Go for the extra 80GB internal hard disk and you get a lot more print-management features, since this can be used to store print jobs for proofing, spooling and collating. All prints are stored on the drive securely, as they're encrypted to 128-bit AES, and there's a secure erase option as well. Along with USB, parallel and network connections, the printer has a spare slot at the back that accepts a wireless adapter upgrade that costs around £69.

For a 48ppm laser, the 5330dn scores highly on value since it delivers plenty of standard features. Print quality for general reports and graphs is good enough, running costs are comparatively low, and Dell offers a good range of upgrade options.

Author: Dave Mitchell

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