Dell B3465dnf Multifunction Laser Printer review

Pros

  • Fast printing
  • Standard 650-sheet input capacity
  • Maximum of 2,300 sheets
  • Duplexer
  • 7in colour touchscreen control panel

Cons

  • Photo quality isn't so good

You don't have to look much further than its price to know that the £1,199 Dell B3465dnf Multifunction Laser Printer is meant for a small to medium-size office or workgroup. That said, if you have any doubts about its suitability for heavy duty use, the rated maximum monthly duty cycle for printing, at 150,000 pages with a recommended maximum of up to 15,000 pages, should tell you everything you need to know. Add in the fast speed on our tests, the reasonably high quality output, the 7in colour touchscreen control panel, and the low cost per page, and this MFP is a compelling offering.

The B3465dnf isn't the first small office mono laser MFP we've seen with a colour touchscreen. For example, the much less expensive Dell 2355dn Multifunction Mono Laser Printer has one (it’s close to a quarter of the price of this model). However the B3465dnf's touchscreen stands out as being big enough to be at home on a floor standing departmental MFP or copier.

At a full 7in diagonally, it's bright and highly readable. It also offers a well-designed, easy to use set of menus for faxing, scanning, direct email, and more. And it offers audible feedback in response to a touch, so you know when it has accepted a command.

MFP features

In addition to the touchscreen, the B3465dnf's front panel adds several physical buttons, including a numeric keypad, Cancel and Start keys, and a Home key for returning to the main screen. All are duplicates for options that show on the touchscreen, but it's sometimes more convenient to have a physical button that you know where to find quickly. The keypad also gives tactile feedback, which can be helpful for entering a fax number or the like.

One of the advantages of a large touchscreen control panel is that there's room for lots of information. If you enable all of the options, the home screen will show choices to Change Language, Copy, Fax, Email, send to an FTP site, and more, including an option that will let you print frequently used forms or other documents stored on your network, FTP site, or website. Plug in a USB memory stick, and you'll see additional choices that let you scan to or print from the USB stick.

As you would expect, along with all of these features available from the front panel, you can also print and fax from, as well as scan to, a PC over a network. And if you add the Wi-Fi option (costing £77), you can also print by Wi-Fi from your smartphone or tablet.

Paper handling

Paper handling is another strong point, with both a 550-sheet paper drawer and 100-sheet multipurpose tray standard, along with an automatic duplexer. For most small to medium-size offices, the 650-sheet capacity will be ample, but you can also add up to three 550-sheet drawers (at £115 each) for a total 2,300-sheet capacity (the image to the right shows this Dell MFP with an extra paper tray fitted).

As you would expect for an office MFP, the B3465dnf supplements the scanner's flatbed with an automatic document feeder (ADF). The 50-page ADF can duplex, by turning the page over to scan the second side, so it will work with the duplexer in the printer to let you copy from single or double-sided originals to either single or double-sided copies.

Setup and speed

The B3465dnf is far too large to share a desk with comfortably, at 490 x 480 x 560mm (WxDxH), but once you find a spot for it, setup is typical. I connected it to a wired network and ran my tests from a system running Windows Vista.

Print speed is another strong point. Dell rates the engine at 50 pages per minute (ppm), which should be close to what you'll get when printing a text file with no graphics or photos. On our business applications suite, using not just text but a mix of text and graphics, I timed it (using QualityLogic's hardware and software for timing) at an effective 15.0 ppm, making it one of the fastest mono laser MFPs we've tested. The 2355dn, for example, came in at only 9.1 ppm, and the slightly more expensive HP LaserJet Enterprise 500 MFP managed only 12.2 ppm.

Output quality

As I've already suggested, the B3465dnf scores reasonably well on output quality too. Text is at the high end of the range that includes the overwhelming majority of mono laser MFPs. Small fonts tend to be a little greyish instead of a solid black, but still easily readable. The text isn't quite good enough for desktop publishing applications, but most people should find it suitable for anything short of that.

Graphics quality is just short of the top tier for mono laser MFPs, which makes it easily good enough for PowerPoint hand-outs and the like. Depending on how much of a perfectionist you are, you may consider it good enough for output going to important clients or customers when you need to convey a sense of professionalism. Photo quality is at the low end of par for a mono laser MFP, but easily good enough to print recognisable photos from web pages. Depending on your level of perfectionism, once again, you may or may not consider it good enough for, say, photos in a company or client newsletter.

Verdict

Based just on its output quality, print speed, and standard paper capacity, the Dell B3465dnf Multifunction Laser Printer offers more than enough to make it a good fit for a small to mid-size office. The ability to copy, fax, email, scan to FTP sites, print from and scan to USB sticks, and more, plus the large touchscreen with its well-designed menu system, makes it even more attractive. For offices with heavy duty needs, it's an easy pick for a Best Buy award.

Specifications

Manufacturer and Model

Dell B3465dnf Multifunction Laser Printer

Printer Category

Laser

Direct Printing from Cameras

No

Print Duplexing

Automatic

Rated Speed at Default Settings (Mono)

50 ppm

Type

All-In-One, Copier, Fax

Color or Monochrome

Monochrome

Technology (for laser category only)

Laser

Connection Type

USB, Ethernet