Even so, both kinds of printers have their admirers and adherents. Many, many offices and businesses, such as auto-repair shops, insurance agencies, and title companies, don’t need to print in color—and indeed, will garner real savings by opting for old-school, strictly mono lasers. At the same time, many of these types of businesses, small or large, often need to make copies, scan documents and images, and at times even send or receive a fax or two. That’s where the multifunction angle comes in, and it’s where these kind of printers deliver their value.
Granted, many businesses purchase single-function print-only laser models because either (1) the printer is too busy to stop for scanning or making copies, or (2) when it does need to print, what it’s printing is too critical to wait for a long copy or fax job to complete. (After all, you don’t want to keep your customers waiting.) But for those users whodo need all of an MFP’s functionality—print, scan, copy, and perhaps the occasional fax—and can wait for the various operations, Dell has recently released a revised cadre of laser-class machines, including the topic of this review, the $219-MSRP E515dw Multifunction Monochrome Printer. (We call these “laser-class” printers because, technically, these printers don’t use lasers inside to draw your page image onto a print drum; they use an array of non-moving LEDs. From the outside, though, they’re mostly indistinguishable from lasers.)
For those home-based and small-office users who need their MFP to print and copy in color, Dell has also put out an entry-level, color-laser-class machine, the $329-MSRP E525w Color Multifunction Printer, which we have on hand and will be reviewing shortly. Overall, these multifunction machines are part of a group of five printers the company offered up in mid-2015 to refresh its line. The other three are another MFP, the E514dw Monochrome Laser Printer (essentially, the same as our review unit, but rated for slower speeds and with no fax function, for about $50 less), and two single-function models, the Smart Printer S2810dn and the E310dw, both of which we have reviewed. (Hit the links for the skinny on those.)
While all five printers in this group have relatively low out-of-pocket prices, their comparatively high per-page printing costs (which we’ll cover in some detail later on) relegates them to low-volume, occasional-use machines. That’s downright fine, so long as you know that going into the purchase, and that is indeed the kind of printer that you’re looking for.
The E515dw has a maximum monthly duty cycle of 10,000 pages, which is low for a laser-class machine in general. (“Duty cycle?” “LED printer?” See our primer, Buying a Printer: 20 Terms You Need to Know.) But if you plan on printing anywhere close to that amount, as we’ll get into in the Setup & Paper Handling section, this is not the right printer for that. In fact, because of the relatively high cost per page (CPP), we suggest you don’t opt for the E515dw if you plan to print more than a few hundred pages each month—say, 300 to 400. The more you print, the more you should consider a higher-volume model.
But if your print volume fits that 400-pages-max profile, and all you need is the occasional black-and-white document copied (or you don’t mind if your copies are converted to gray scale), this printer isn’t a bad deal at all. The list price may be $220, but we saw the E515dw selling as low as $179.99 at a few non-Dell outlets when we wrote this in mid-August 2015. And, as mentioned, if you don’t need the fax functionality (many people and small businesses don’t, nowadays), there’s always the E514dw. We spotted that slightly stripped-down model as low as $129.99, down from an MSRP of $179.99.
In any case, on the whole, we liked this little MFP LED printer—especially as a low-volume, occasional-use machine for a small office or workgroup, or perhaps a personal-laser companion on your desk. It delivers good value so long as you set your page-output volume expectations appropriately.
Read the entire review at Computer Shopper