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Dell 3130cn Colour Laser Printer review


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

Review Date: 10 Feb 2009

Reviewed By: Dave Mitchell

Price when reviewed: £251 (£289 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
6 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
6 stars out of 6

6 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

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.

Author: Dave Mitchell

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User comments

Massive Price Increase! Surely not A-List anymore?

I was looking for a Colour Laser Printer and the A-Listed Dell laser printer looked ideal.

However, despite the review notes (obviously from Feb 09), the printer with duplexer is now listed £653, or £596 inc VAT with a bit of haggling. I referred Dell to the A-List review stating that it showed £433 including the duplexer, and they suggested that this was a promotional price. I wasn’t necessarily surprised at this.

The standard printer without the optional duplexer was best haggle price £407 (list is £445), and not the £289 as reviewed (Feb 2009 price).

Prices obviously change, and I wouldn’t necessarily expect Dell (or anyone else) to honour a price from 6 months ago – however, given that the printer is now a whopping £160 extra (duplexer option), or extra £120 (standard option) – then surely this can no longer be A-Listed. My view is that it should not, as it’s an increase of over 40% in price!

I’m looking for a fast (20+ppm) colour laser printer. It does not need to have a duplexer, but one would be obviously convenient! Any recommendations?

By chiholam on 27 Aug 2009

Huge price increase, no extra value

The base price of this has risen to £379 excluding VAT and delivery. Adding the duplexer to this at £179 takes the total to £558. Add the 550 sheet paper tray and you are at £737!!

By maclauk on 8 Oct 2009

Whilst the price from Dell may mave increased (and even at that, it's print quality and speed still makes it reasonable value), in the real world this prnter can still be bought NEW for a decent price. Duplexer and 550 sheet tray too.
V Good printer, fast, Very good colour, and (providing you get them from a good remanufacturer) excellent remanufactured cartridges will be available soon with substantial savings on the running costs.

By HazBeen on 19 Nov 2009

Wireless Mac connection?

I've recently purchased the Dell 3130cn. I have a mac and my partner runs a windows PC. Both of us can connect and print with a LAN cable and my partner can print wirelessly with his Windows PC but I am having trouble connecting wirelessly with my Mac. Any ideas if there is a compatability issue with the Mac's wireless connectivity?

Many thanks!

By Snazzyman on 4 Dec 2009

Pros and Cons

I would like to say about pros n cons of this color Laser Printer
Pros: Great price. Reasonable toner cost. Good Features. Solid construction.
Cons: Bland aesthetics.

By exceltoner on 30 Jan 2011

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