Dell B1265dnf Multifunction Mono Laser Printer review

Pros

  • Prints, scans, copies and faxes
  • Impressive text output quality
  • Solid graphics output
  • Duplexer and automatic document feeder

Cons

  • A little bulky to sit on a desk
  • Photo output quality isn’t so hot

Clearly designed for a micro, small, or home office, and priced accordingly at the £160 mark, the Dell B1265dnf Multifunction Mono Laser Printer delivers all the important features a small office needs. It can print and fax from, as well as scan to, your PC, including over a network, and it can work as a standalone copier and fax machine. It also offers a suitably solid output quality, speed, and paper capacity, all of which makes it a potentially good fit as a workhorse mono laser MFP.

The B1265dnf is a near twin of the Samsung SCX-4729FD, which is also currently priced around the same level. Except for their colours – white for the Samsung SCX-4729FD and black for the B1265dnf – they look identical. They also offer essentially the same list of features, which isn't too surprising if you're aware that Samsung builds many of Dell's printers. The simple truth is that aside from who provides support, there aren't that many differences between the two. So if you're considering the B1265dnf, you should check out the latest online prices and potential offers on the Samsung SCX-4729FD as well.

The basics

As with its Samsung doppelganger, the B1265dnf is a bit too imposing to comfortably share a desk with. However, at 406 x 338 x 384mm (WxDxH), it has a smaller footprint than many inkjets, so it shouldn't be hard to find room for the device even in the smallest of small offices. You might even consider it a personal MFP.

Paper handling is suitable for most micro and small offices, with a 250-sheet tray, a single-sheet manual feed, and a built-in duplexer (for printing on both sides of a page). One key office-centric feature is the 40-page automatic document feeder (ADF). As is common for office MFPs, the ADF supplements a letter-size flatbed to let you scan both stacks of paper and legal-size pages.

Speed and output quality

For my tests, I connected the B1265dnf to a wired network and installed the drivers on a system running Windows Vista. Setup of the hardware was standard and went without issue.

Dell rates the printer engine at 29 pages per minute (ppm), which is the speed you can expect to see when printing a text file with no graphics or photos. On our business applications suite (timed using QualityLogic's hardware and software) it came in at an effective 8.5 ppm, essentially tied with the Samsung SCX-4729FD, which hit 8.2 ppm. As another point of reference, both printers were significantly slower than the Canon imageClass MF4570dn, which reached 12.3 ppm.

Output quality counts as a strong point overall, primarily because of the text and graphics quality. Text is at the high end of the range where most mono lasers fall, making it easily good enough for almost any business purpose, but a little short of what most people would want for desktop publishing applications. Graphics quality, similarly, is good enough for almost any business purpose, including PowerPoint hand-outs and the like.

Photo quality is at the low end of the tight range that includes most mono laser MFPs. It's certainly good enough to print recognisable photos from web pages, but not good enough by most people's standards for photos in client newsletters or the like.

Running cost

One other issue worth mention is the printer’s running cost. The claimed cost per page for the B1265dnf is 3.3 cents (2.1 pence). That's 0.2 pence per page more than the Samsung SCX-4729FD claims, or £2 more per 1,000 pages. But it's also 0.3 pence less per page than the MF4570dn, or £3 less per 1,000 pages. Neither works out to a big difference unless you print a lot of pages – but the more you expect to print, the more of an issue this may be.

Also, keep in mind that it's not the running cost that matters, but the total cost of ownership. If you expect to print 10,000 pages over the lifetime of the printer, the running cost for the B1265dnf will be £20 more than for the SCX-4729FD. But if you can shop around online and pick up the B1265dnf for around £20 less than the Samsung SCX-4729FD, the total cost will obviously be the same.

Verdict

The Dell B1265dnf Multifunction Mono Laser covers all the bases for most small office needs. In addition to printing, scanning, copying and faxing, it delivers a potentially attractive balance of speed, output quality, paper handling, price and features. That said, if you put a priority on speed, you should take a look at the Canon MF4570dn (though it’s approaching £100 more expensive than the Dell). You may also want to figure out the total cost of ownership in comparison to the Samsung SCX-4729FD. If the numbers work out right, the Dell B1265dnf could easily be the right choice.