It takes only a glance at the Dell B1160w Wireless Mono Laser Printer to peg it as a personal printer. Smaller than an inkjet, it won't take up much room on your desk, and even though it offers Wi-Fi, its 150-sheet paper tray limits its usefulness as a shared printer, even in a micro office. As a personal printer in any size office, however, or a shared printer in a micro office with extremely light-duty print needs, it can be a potentially good fit.
Measuring just 330 x 216 x 178mm (WxDxH), and weighing in at 4kg complete with toner, the B1160w is both smaller and lighter than the similarly priced Brother HL-2240. Much of the HL-2240's extra size comes from its better paper handling, including a 100-sheet larger paper capacity plus a manual feed that the B1160w lacks. The trade-off is that the HL-2240 doesn't include Wi-Fi.
In that context, it's worth mentioning that if you don't need Wi-Fi, but also don't need the HL-2240's paper handling, you can save a few quid by getting the Dell B1160 Mono Laser Printer (£83 direct), which also lacks Wi-Fi. According to Dell the B1160 and B1160w are otherwise identical, so all the comments in this review should apply to that model as well.
Speed and quality
For my tests, I connected the B1160w by USB cable and installed it on a system running Windows Vista. Setup was standard fare.
On our business applications suite, I timed the printer (using QualityLogic's hardware and software for timing) at an effective 7.3 pages per minute (ppm), which is a reasonable speed for a personal printer. As a point of reference, the directly competitive Samsung ML-2165W came in at 7.6 ppm. However, both the Dell and Samsung printers are significantly slower than the Brother HL-2240, which hits 11.4 ppm.
The B1160w does a little better on output quality than speed, but not by a lot. Here again, it's good enough for most purposes, but not impressive. Text quality is at the low end of the scale where the vast majority of mono lasers fall. It's easily good enough for most business purposes, but well short of what you'd want for serious desktop publishing.
Graphics quality is at the high end of the range for mono lasers, making the output easily good enough for most business purposes, including PowerPoint hand-outs and the like. Depending on your level of perfectionism, you might even consider the quality suitable for graphics in, say, a business report that needs to look fully professional. Photo quality is at the high end of the tight range that includes most mono lasers, making it good enough to print web pages with photos, and even print photos in client newsletters or the like.
One potential issue for the B1160w is its running cost. The claimed 4 cents (2.5 pence) per page is roughly double the cost for the HL-2240. How much of an issue this is will obviously depend on how much you print. But keep in mind that after just 5,000 pages, that difference adds up to over £60.
The best argument for choosing the Dell B1160w Wireless Mono Laser Printer is that you need both Wi-Fi and the small size. If you don't need either, the HL-2240 offers faster speed, better paper handling, and a lower cost per page. If you need both features, however, and would benefit from the small size in particular because you don't have much room for a printer, the Dell B1160w Wireless Mono Laser Printer can not only serve nicely, it may literally be the better fit.
Dell’s B1160w doesn’t print particularly quickly, and its text output is no great shakes, although it does better on the graphics front. The device is also on the expensive side to run, but if you need a very compact personal printer with Wi-Fi on board, it fits the bill.