Review of the Dell Smart Printer S5830dn at Computer ShopperWith HP’s forthcoming acquisition of Samsung’s printer business (Samsung makes laser printers and multifunction laser printers for Dell), Dell’s place in the laser-printer market a year or so from now may be a bit up in the air. (The HP/Samsung deal is expected to close in September 2017.) At the moment, though, Dell is providing some of the most economical to use laser printers available. And that includes today’s review focus, the $999.99-MSRP Dell Smart Printer S5830dn, a very high-volume single-function monochrome laser printer.

A thousand bucks may seem like a lot to pay in 2017 for a print-only, black-and-white-only laser machine. (And unlike many Dell printers, it’s not been discounted by all that much, at least yet. At this mid-January 2017 writing, we saw it around the e-tailer circuit for $900 to $950.) But then, given its 300,000-page maximum monthly duty cycle (with a 50,000-page workload recommended), highly competitive running costs, and multiple expansion options, this is no ordinary beast. If, as we’ll elaborate on later, you use it to anywhere near its ultra-high-capacity potential, you’ll quickly regain (and surpass) in toner savings the few hundred dollars more that it costs, compared to most other laser printers we’ve reviewed.

Dell Smart Printer S5830dn (Front)

But that doesn’t mean that the Smart Printer S5830dn is perfect, by any means. Wireless connectivity, for example, is optional; we get the reasoning for that, because this kind of printer is meant to live on a wired network. But more concerning: Unlike most Dell printers we’ve looked at lately, the output quality is merely so-so, especially when printing business graphics. Photos and text came out fine for a monochrome printer, making this an ideal machine for printing reams upon reams of all-text pages and black-and-white renditions of Web pages. But, say, presentations that begin as color documents? We ran into some issues there.

We’ve reviewed many business-minded laser printers in recent months, but none with the potential output volume of this one. Only its sibling, the like-priced Dell Color Smart Printer S5840Cdn (and its 150,000-page monthly duty cycle) comes close, but even that model, not really. And then there’s the consumables cost. Apart from several high-volume inkjet multifunction printers (MFPs), such as the Epson WorkForce Pro WF-R4640 EcoTank All-in-One and Brother MFC-J5920DW, we don’t know of any laser machines with monochrome running costs lower than these two Dell single-function machines. So this machine does have some key strengths.

Of course, those Epson and Brother color inkjet MFPs don’t come close in capacity to today’s Dell; both have much lower maximum monthly duty cycles, of well under 100,000 pages. (Also, the Epson machine actually costs $200 more than our S5830dn review unit, on a list-price basis.) Our bottom line for this machine is that, as we’ll get into in more detail near the end of this review, we can’t suggest it for printing Excel bar charts and PowerPoint handouts, if that’s your main aim. But if, on the other hand, you print tens of thousands of plain-text and/or text-document pages containing photos each month, the Smart Printer S5830dn was built for just that. We don’t know of a more economical-to-use, focused solution for mass monochrome laser printing, month in and month out, of up to 50,000 pages or so, and even as much as 250,000 pages, on occasion.

See the entire review at Computer Shopper

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Several entry-level single-function monochrome laser printers have debuted recently, including the Canon imageClass LBP151dw and the Brother HL-L5200DW, both Editors’ Choice winners. The Dell Smart Printer S2830dn ($279.99) is similar to the Canon LBP151dw in that it quickly churns out good-looking black-and-white pages, but it does so at a significantly lower cost per page. Although its running costs are slightly higher than those of the Brother HL-L5200DW, the S2830dn delivers better graphics quality. In fact, it brings enough to the table to make it our new Editors’ Choice mono laser printer for a micro or home office.

Read the entire S2830dn review at PC Magazine

 

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Dell E525w Color Multifunction PrinterWith apologies to the philosopher Heraclitus (assuming he even said the original in the first place), the one thing that’s constant in tech is change? Somebody tell Dell.

In all the years we’ve been looking at laser-class printers, Dell’s machines have been the ones that have changed the least, and the most slowly, on the outside. Take, for example, 2011’s Dell 1355cnw, a multifunction color-laser-class printer that looks almost identical to the new Dell machine we’re reviewing here in 2015, Dell’s $329.99-list E525w Color Multifunction Printer. And, when we looked even further back, we found other Dell multifunction printers (MFPs) that looked an awful lot like that E525w.

Points for consistency, at least: The family resemblance in Dell’s line over the years has stayed clear and constant. In fact, as we’ll discuss in some detail, from an appearance and interface perspective, the E525w isn’t just long in the tooth. Compared to some of today’s more modern competitors, such as HP’s snappy-looking Color LaserJet Pro MFP M277dw, it’s like stepping back a decade or two in time in printer design.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. And the Dell E525w comes with two offsetting positives: (1) Despite its aging and somewhat ungainly design, the E525w delivers exceptionally good prints, for the kind of printer it is. And (2) a comparable machine 20 years ago would have cost four or five times as much. This model, with a $329 list price, is modestly priced enough, but at this writing Dell was selling it for $199.99 with free shipping, and some other sellers had it as low as $179.99.

Now that’s cheap. And yes, the E525w delivers excellent-looking output, including photos that are better looking than you might expect from a laser-class machine. The only problem? The cartridges…oh, those toner cartridges. The E525w prints at an exceptionally high cost per page (CPP), especially for the color output. It’s the same old printer story of charging a low price up front for the printer itself, only to make it up on the back end with a relatively high per-page price for consumables (in this case, toner).

This, of course, isn’t an unusual practice. It’s certainly common among printer makers in their entry-level and midrange machines. Aside from that all-too-frequent tactic, though, Dell did a whole bunch right in this printer. Besides printing top-notch output for a budget-level laser-class machine, the E525w comes with a decent mix of features. That includes, in a forward-looking fashion you wouldn’t expect from this printer’s backward-looking design, several ways to connect to most mobile devices, which we’ll cover in more detail momentarily.

Before moving on to the next section, though, we should point out that as a “laser-class” printer, the E525w isn’t technically a laser printer at all. Instead it’s a LED-array printer, in which a fixed strip of LEDs does the same (or similar) work that the laser apparatus does in a “true” laser printer, in that it charges the image drum appropriately to transfer toner to paper.

Dell E525w Color Multifunction Printer (Angle View)While LED-based machines operate inside somewhat differently from true laser-based ones (the former are often smaller and have fewer moving parts, for example), the machines themselves appear to operate identically from the outside. The print quality between LED and laser is about the same in most cases, too, and LED-based models tend to use less power—a win-win for all involved.

In any case, aside from a too-high CPP, as well as a few other, more minor grumbles, the E525w is a fine laser-class printer, with better-than-average print quality for the price. You won’t want to print loads of output on it—the consumables are just too pricey for that—but used in moderation, it should be good enough for many would-be MFP owners who have never owned a color laser before and will use it just for occasional output.

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper

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 Dell’s S2810dn Smart Mono PrinterEvery now and then, a manufacturer takes a fancy to calling this or that product “Smart.” We have smart TVs, smart phones, and smart cars; and now Dell gives us a smart mono laser-class printer, the $229.99 MSRP S2810dn Smart Mono Printer—the topic of today’s review.

The first question is, of course, what makes the S2810dn smart—compared to other single-function laser-class machines, that is? (First question or not, the answer is not so ground-shaking as to warrant disruption of the natural flow of this review.) Suffice it to say here that “smart” simply refers to an overall business-centric printer design consisting of several complimentary features, not some ground-breaking approach to entry-level laser design.

Read the entire review at About.com

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Dell E515dw Multifunction Printer Review and RatingsIn the admittedly fusty world of laser printers, few things are less glamorous than a monochrome multifunction (MFP) laser or laser-class printer—except, maybe, a single-function one.

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.)

Dell E515dwFor 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.)

Dell E515dw

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

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Dell Venue 10 7000 (Model 7040) Review and RatingsWe’ve been looking at Dell’s Venue line of Android tablets (not to be confused with “Venue Pro,” the company’s Windows slates) for a few years now. It wasn’t, however, until February 2015’s review of the premium Venue 8 7000 that we really began to take notice of the family. Prior to the 7000 series, Dell’s Venue tablets were, for the most part, ho-hum, budget-friendly models not much different from many others on the market.

Dell Venue 10 7000 Series

With the 7000 models, though, came a revelation. They had aluminum chassis, ultra-high-res displays, high-end sound and other hardware, and Intel’s RealSense 3D camera technology—in other words, a complete reversal, going from entry-level to premium, from previous Venue models. And now, with the $499-MSRP Venue 10 7000 Series, Dell elevates the Venue brand to an all-new level of performance and elegance.

We tested model 7040 in the new 10-inch family. As you’ll see in our Features section later on, in addition to RealSense, this Venue 10 kept many of the features that made the $399-list Venue 8 7000 such an interesting tablet. Meanwhile, this ultra-high-end slate is available at Dell.com in four configurations, starting with a stand-alone tablet with 16GB of storage at $499.

After that comes another stand-alone version, with 32GB of storage, at $549, followed by a combination tablet/keyboard dock with 16GB of storage ($629). Finally, there is the flagship configuration (our review unit), model 7040, with the keyboard dock and 32GB of storage for $679.

Okay, for starters: You’re probably thinking that every one of the above prices is way high for an Android tablet, and you’re right if you look at the field. Normally, we’d agree with you, but this Venue is, like a few other premium slates we’ve seen (such as Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S 10.5 and Sony’s Xperia Tablet Z2), in a word, elegant. Part of being elegant, of course, is the ability to command a high price. Also part of the deal: that you perform well. Like the Venue 8 7000 before it, as we’ll discuss in the Performance section later on, the Intel Atom-based Venue 10 7040 did rather well on our battery of benchmark tests—especially our demanding battery-rundown test, which is a further key attribute of a premium tablet.

Dell Venue 10 7000 Series (Hinge)

Unlike the Venue 8 7000, though, this Venue has several hardware features beyond an elegant appearance and 3D camera, starting with a barrel attached to the bottom edge. Somewhat reminiscent of the grip on Lenovo’s Yoga tablets, this not only holds the unit’s speakers, but also its battery, and it acts as the bulkier part of the hinge for attaching the tablet’s matching keyboard dock. All of that we’ll discuss in more detail next in the section.

Meanwhile, each time we review one of these high-end Android slates, the question that inevitably arises is, is all this high-end hardware and elegant design worth the additional expense, considering that you can buy a not-so-fancy tablet for much less, or an Apple iPad for around the same bucks? Well, one mitigating factor: We are not seeing nearly as many new full-size (9-inch screen and above) Android models anymore, and especially not 10.5-inch slates like this one. Lately, 10-inch-class tablets have become somewhat scarce, and most of them are higher-end models like this one. (One of the most significant additions to the class is actually a Windows model: Microsoft’s high-profile Surface 3, with a 10.8-inch screen and starting at the same $499.)

Even so, we’ve looked at and tested most or all of them, and few measure up to this Venue. Dell’s Venue 10 7000 Series, especially the two models bundled with Dell’s slick keyboard dock, is an impressive Android—even a suitable now-and-then laptop replacement for folks willing to settle for a 10.5-inch display.

Read entire review at Computer Shopper

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Top 100 Products of 2014: Best PrintersHere’s my contribution to Computer Shopper’s “Top 100 Products of 2014.” My beat this year is printers. Here are the best printers of 2014:

Table of Contents

  1. Printer of the Year: Epson WorkForce Pro WF-4630 All-in-One Printer
  2. Best Budget Printer: Dell B1165nfw Mono Laser Multifunction Printer
  3. Best Photo Printer: Canon Pixma iP8720 Wireless Inkjet Photo Printer
  4. Best Small-Office All-in-One Printer: Epson WorkForce Pro WF-4630 All-in-One
  5. Best Inkjet All-in-One Printer: HP Officejet Pro 8630 e-All-in-One Printer
  6. Best Color Laser/Laser-Class Printer: Dell Color Multifunction Printer C2665dnf
  7. Best Basic Monochrome Laser/Laser-Class Printer: Samsung Xpress M2020W
  8. Best Basic Monochrome Laser AIO Printer: Samsung Multifunction Xpress M2070FW
  9. Best Consumer/Small-Office Wide Format Printer: Epson WorkForce WF-7610 All-in-One Printer

Read the entire article at Computer Shopper.

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Dell Venue 8 (2014)If the appeal of a product is all in the name, nobody told Dell’s tablet team.

It wasn’t all that long before we wrote this—about six or seven months ago—that we looked at Dell’s first entry-level Android slate with an 8-inch screen, the Venue 8. (That’s not to be confused with the company’s Venue 8 Pro, which is a Windows 8 tablet.) We found it competent but, as compact Android slates go, rather ordinary. In most ways, it reminded us of umpteen other compact (7-to-9-inch) Android tablets we had looked at around the same time. But what that Venue 8 model did have going for it was a relatively low price, given the screen size and when the tablet debuted: $179.99 MSRP, with the street price ringing up a little lower on occasion.

So, here we are just a few months down the road, and Dell has revamped that same 8-inch Android, keeping the name but hiking the list price to…$199.99. What gives?

Surprising in a market where Android-tablet prices are driving down, down, down, this price rise is a justifiable one. Sure, the Venue 8 is named the same, and the exterior is nearly indistinguishable from its predecessor’s. But this version, thanks primarily to its 1,920×1,200-pixel, high-resolution screen, is an overall better value. (At the same time as the new Venue 8, Dell rolled out a Bay Trail-enhanced Venue 7, as well.)

Not only does this new Venue 8 outshine the last one, but the higher screen resolution also brings this newer Venue into direct competition with certain higher-end compact tabs, such as Google’s2013 Nexus 7 (a 7-incher) and 2014’s LG G Pad 8.3 (an 8.3-incher). The G Pad comes in three flavors: a G Pad 8.3 LTE/Verizon version, the G Pad 8.3 Google Play Edition, and a standard G Pad 8.3. Each version of the G Pad 8.3, as well as the Nexus 7, has a 1,920×1,200-pixel display, like our Dell Venue 8 review unit’s.

Dell Venue 8 (2014) (Vertical)This 1,920×1,200 resolution generates a very tight pixel depth on a screen this size (283 pixels per inch, or ppi, versus 180ppi on a standard 1,200×800 display). This pixel depth makes images, videos, some games, and certain other content more detailed and attractive than on the standard 1,200×800-pixel displays found on most of today’s compact tablets. (We’ll look more closely at the Venue 8’s display panel in the Features & Apps section later in this review.)

In fact, this Venue 8’s high-resolution screen puts it on par with the 8.3-inch G Pad. The various versions of the LG G Pad 8.3 may have slightly larger screens, but they also sell for at least $50 more than this Dell, depending on the promotions of the day. Furthermore, while the G Pad 8.3 deploys Qualcomm’s speedy Snapdragon 600 CPU, the Intel “Bay Trail” Atom processor in this Dell slate helped the Venue 8 perform better on many of our tests. (We’ll look more closely at how this Venue 8 did on our benchmark tests in the Performance section later on.)

On the outside of this tablet, things are just as strong. This Venue 8 is slim, solid-feeling, and light—a pleasure to use in almost every sense. It’s thinner and lighter than its predecessor, too.

As you read on, you’ll note a couple of things, such as its sole audio speaker, that we thought could use improvement. But our bottom line? The Atom-based Dell Venue 8 is one nice compact tablet for the money, even if it’s a little more money than before. We’re just surprised that Dell hid this tablet’s backlight under a bushel by not naming it the “Venue 8 HD” or the “Venue 8 Premium.”

Read the entire article at Computer Shopper.

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The Enduring InkjetAt one time, quite a while back, inkjet printers were homely, noisy machines that often required a lot of patience to put up with their overall poor print quality and lack of dependability. After that, they evolved into decent, fairly dependable machines capable of printing quality documents and photographs, but they were still, when compared to their laser counterparts, a bit too expensive to use, in terms of their per-page cost of consumables—in this case, ink.

Read entire article at About. com.

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Buying a Printer: 20 Terms You Need to KnowIntroduction

You may think of printers as old timers’ tech, but they’re as varied and vibrant as ever today, with certain of the latest models packing in some amazing physics and cutting-edge connectivity technologies. And because hundreds of models crowd the market, you need to know what their features mean and how to read a printer spec sheet to avoid buying too much—or too little—printer for your needs.

You’ve probably purchased a printer or three in the past, but if it’s been some time, you’ll see that printers have changed a lot, especially in terms of how they connect to computers, networks, and—now—mobile devices. And in some cases, their core printing technologies have changed a bit.

If you’re in the market for a printer, there’s a lot you should know, or get up to date with. We’ve summarized most of the essential terms, technologies, and specifications you should have a handle on before you buy.

Read entire article at Computer Shopper.

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