Dell 3130cn Colour Laser Printer review

10 Feb 2009

Dell's 3130cn is an HP beater as this colour laser delivers top quality output, much lower running costs and a good range of print management features

Price when reviewed: 
289exc. VAT
5

Dell's latest A4 colour laser has a keen eye on busy workgroups and departments that want both print speed and quality but low running costs as well. Prices for the 3130cn start at a very modest £299 and the model supplied for review includes the internal duplex unit which brings the total to £433.

There are plenty of other extras as paper capacity can be increased with 550-sheet lower tray, you can add a 40GB internal hard disk for storing print jobs locally and opt for a wireless network adapter. A 1GB upgrade costs £108 which when compared with the extortionate memory prices HP charges is actually very good value.

The only consumables are the all-in-one toner cartridges and Dell scores highly for running costs as even with the standard cartridges you'll see around 1p for a mono page and 5.6p for colour. Go for the high capacity versions and costs drop to less than 0.9p for mono and 4.7p for colour. Dell scores over the Colour LaserJet CP2025dn as HP indulges in the dubious practise of shipping the printer with 'introductory' 1,200 page cartridges - the 3130cn comes with standard cartridges so initial running costs will also be significantly lower.

Installation doesn't get any easier as the bundled utility provides video tutorials for unpacking and connecting the printer and then hunts it down on the network and loads the drivers. Each user gets a status utility loaded where they can keep an eye on consumables and directly order new cartridges online. The printer's web management interface provides plenty of information on printer status and activity and offers direct access to all settings.

Dell's ColorTrack tool is accessed from the Print Volume option where you create user accounts on the printer, decide which ones are allowed to print in colour and place mono and colour page limits on each one. With this activated users need to add their password in the printer driver properties page otherwise they'll fail authentication when they try to print.

Dell delivers in the speed stakes with the printer dashing through a 30-page Word document in precisely one minute. Colour printing was also on the money as our 24-page DTP style document with masses of colour charts, graphics and photos was dispatched in 57 seconds on the standard quality setting. Speed dropped slightly using the high quality mode but only down to 19ppm. We also printed a 153-page colour manual in duplexed booklet form and this took 275 seconds for an impressive average of 33ppm.

When it comes to output quality the good news continues as the 3130cn delivers excellent results. Text is razor sharp even down to the smallest sizes whilst photos and graphics are faithfully reproduced with good colour balance and high levels of detail in darker areas. We were impressed with the complete lack of banding - something that often afflicts high speed lasers. The PC Pro colour performance chart also showed perfect a transition across complex colour fades whilst grey shades using equal mixes of C, Y and M toner were reproduced correctly.

Dell's latest colour laser looks a superb office all-rounder as it delivers on every promise. The 3130cn clearly has the ability to satisfy small businesses and workgroups that want top output quality, good print speeds and low running costs.

Details

Price ex VAT £251
Price inc VAT £289
Performance 6
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 6

Basic Specifications

Colour? yes
Resolution printer final 600 x 600dpi
Rated/quoted print speed 30PPM
Maximum paper size A4
Duplex function yes

Running costs

Cost per A4 mono page 1.0p
Cost per A4 colour page 5.6p

Performance tests

Mono print speed (measured) 30ppm
Colour print speed 25ppm

Media Handling

Input tray capacity 250 sheets

Connectivity

USB connection? yes
Ethernet connection? yes
Bluetooth connection? no
WiFi connection? no
PictBridge port? no
Other connections Parallel

OS Support

Operating system Windows Vista supported? yes
Operating system Windows XP supported? yes
Operating system Windows 2000 supported? yes