Review: Dell's B1260dn Mono Laser Printer

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Dell B1260DN

Despite falling laser-printer prices in recent years, it's still tough to get our heads around a two-sided, high-speed laser printer with a street price of around $100. Yet that's what on offer from Dell with its B1260dn Mono Laser Printer, a small-footprint workhorse that's tough as nails and lists for just $149.

Occupying less than a 14-by-14-inch square of desk space and needing less than 8 inches of vertical clearance, the B1260 would fit nicely on a bookshelf, small table or under a retail counter for invoice printing. Once connected, the printer's main activities take place in front. Its 250-sheet multipurpose paper drawer (with mechanical capacity gauge) pulls straight out; the toner cartridge access door is just above that; and up to 150 sheets of output appears on top. There's no LCD readout. Instead, Dell opts for dedicated buttons for power, job cancel, information and Eco setting. LEDs indicate there's a paper jam and low toner. We like the simplicity.

We also liked the B1260's printing speed, particularly for black-only output. Rated at 29 pages-per-minute maximum for letter size, the unit got darn close. The B1260 cranked out 20 plain-text pages in about 45 seconds, a rate of 26.6 ppm. As expected, the printer slowed down when graphics were involved, managing to output 20 mixed-mode pages in 2:05, or about 10 ppm. On the plus side, the B1260's print quality is terrific. With a maximum resolution of 1,200 x 1,200, fonts and fine lines appear sharp and have no smudges or jaggies, even under magnification.

Dell rates the B1260 for a duty cycle of 20,000 pages per month, and says the fuser unit never needs to be replaced; it's designed to last the life of the printer. The printer is equipped with USB 2.0 and Ethernet 10/100 connections, and with its speed and duty cycle, it's well suited as a shared printer for a small office or department. But for the cash-strapped small business, cost-per-page is always a concern, and this unit's 3.3 cents per page is relatively high. However, that's offset by its efficient power usage. During our tests, the B1260 exhibited a peak usage of 388 while printing and just 1 watt when in power save mode.


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