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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Epson’s WorkForce ET-4550 EcoTank All-in-One Printer

Epson recently announced a new line of printers (new to North America, anyway) known as EcoTank. In most ways, these all-in-one (AIO) printers are much like their Epson Expression and WorkForce counterparts. For example, the topic of this review, the $499.99 MSRP WorkForce ET-4550 EcoTank All-in-One Printer, is essentially the entry-level $129.99 MSRP WorkForce WF-2650, which strongly resembles the WF-2660 reviewed here a few months ago, with the EcoTank ink tanks attached to the right side.

The ET-4550 is one of five initial EcoTank offerings announced today. (For a description of the five models and a more detailed discussion of EcoTank in general,check out this About.com article.)

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Canon’s Color imageCLASS LBP7660Cdn Laser PrinterNot every small or medium-size office requires laser output, but many do. If you’re looking a good color laser printer, Canon makes several, including the print engines for many HP laser printers. And, like most Canon imaging devices, the topic of this review, Canon’s $499 MSRP Color ImageCLASS LBP7660Cdn Laser Printer (now there’s a mouth-full) is no exception. It’s a top-notch entry-level/midrange single-function color laser printer with average print speeds and above average output.

Before going on, though, keep in mind that the LBP7660Cdn has been on the market for a few years now; hence I found it at a few outlets for well below $350. As with most laser printers in this class, my main objection is its high cost per page, especially compared similarly priced (and often cheaper) inkjet models that print what are often better-looking pages for a lot lower ongoing operational cost. But then they’re not lasers…

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Brother’s MFC-J4320DW, a Multifunction Wide-Format PrinterThe Printer / Scanner section of About.com has recognized Brother’s Business Smart series of multifunction printers for a number of reasons, often including relatively fast print speeds, overall print quality, a relatively low cost per page, or CPP, and support for wide-format (tabloid, or 11×17-inch) paper. However, the level of support each machine has for tabloid paper varies from model to model.

This brings us to the subject of this review, Brother’s next generation entry-level Business Smart model, the $149.99 MSRP MFC-J4320DW. Like the MFC-J4000 series models before it, such as the MFC-J4420DW I looked at a while back, it takes tabloid-size paper via an override slot on the back of the machine. Hence, you can print only one 11×17-inch page at a time, limiting this particular Brother to an occasional-use wide-format printer—and an all-around great little standard, letter-size machine.
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HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M277dw Review and RatingsLaser printers are as staid as modern PC technology gets. We’ve been saying for some time now that, aside from tacking on the occasional new productivity and convenience feature, or increasing speeds a smidge on occasion, we haven’t seen any heavy-hitting improvements to the laser printer in ages.

If something is going to change in lasers, though, HP is as predictable a source for that innovation as printer makers come. And what the company has done is not so much change the printer, as much as its diet.

That would be the toner. HP’s recent toner reformulation, dubbed ColorSphere 3, is part of an overall toner-cartridge and print-engine revamp that it is calling “JetIntelligence.” According to HP, between the toner reformulation and logic built into both the “new Original HP Toner cartridges with JetIntelligence” and the printer, your LaserJet will use up to 53 percent less energy, take up to 40 percent less space, as well as wake up and print duplex (two-sided) pages faster.

HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M277dwIn fact, in a recent press release, HP’s vice president and general manager of LaserJet hardware and technology, Tuan Tran, claimed, “Today’s announcement represents our most significant laser printing re-engineering since the introduction of the first LaserJet in 1984.”

The biggest thing to hit the laser in 30-plus years? That’s worth a closer look to see whether there’s heft or hype there. HP sent us one of these initial printers based on JetIntelligence and the new toner tech, the $429.99-MSRP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M277dwBest Price at Amazon. Again, many of the JetIntelligence benefits come from reformulated toner and reengineered cartridges, which we’ll discuss in some detail in the next section.

What we will say here, though, is that HP’s JetIntelligence promotional material makes a lot of the idea that you get significantly more prints per cartridge (33 percent more, according to its estimates), rather than more prints for your money. And this is a key distinction: While that may mean fewer toner-cartridge swap-outs over the life of the printer, the technology doesn’t necessarily mean more money in your pocket. While this is a great little printer, as you’ll see in our Setup & Paper Handling section later on, it is somewhat pricey to use, especially for color pages.

HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M277dwHence, as we’ve said about many an entry-level and midrange printer, no matter how attractive and up-to-date it is, this model just doesn’t compute for environments with heavy print loads. HP does offer some uncharacteristically high-volume toner cartridges (up to about 2,400 pages) for a printer this size. But, again, the actual per-page cost of using the Color LaserJet Pro MFP M277dw is too high for all but small and home-based offices with print loads of, say, just a few hundred pages per month.

Again, we’ll discuss why this makes sense as a low-volume, personal color laser printer later on. In the meantime, though, know that the M277dw is a sharp little color laser all-in-one (AIO), well worth taking a good look at if you’re not trying to outfit a business that prints all day, every day. As we wrote this in early August 2015, HP was offering a $100 discount off the MSRP, trimming the price to $329, so this model could make good sense for environments that need modest numbers of color-fast prints.

Read entire review at Computer Shopper

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HP’s Envy 7640 e-All-in-One PrinterHP’s Envy line of printers have gone through a transition over the years, from somewhat high-end (price-wise) and elegant, if not all that practical. Over the past couple years, though, Envy printers have evolved in to sensible entry-level and midrange all-in-one (AIO) machines designed for home based and small offices, as my recent review of the Envy 5660 e-All-in-One Printer illustrates.

Today, though, we’re looking at the flagship Envy printer, the $199.99 Envy 7640 e-All-in-One Printer, which, by the way, I found for as low as $124.99 while writing this review.

In any case, of the entire Envy line, this one is the most full-featured. However, also like the other Envy AIOs, without HP’s value-added Instant Ink program, which we’ll look at in a minute, it’s too expensive to use.
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Epson’s WorkForce WF-7620 All-in-One PrinterAbout a year ago, About.com reviewed several of Epson’s PrecisionCore-based multifunction printers (MFPs), including the notable wide-format WorkForce WF-7610 All-in-One. What impressed me most about it, aside from it being an excellent

It’s an excellent size for posters and oversize spreadsheets, and much more. Aside from a slightly too-high per-page cost of operation, the only thing we really didn’t like about the WF-7610 was that it had only one paper drawer, which really isn’t practical for an oversize printer, unless you plan to print only wide-format pages, that is.

Epson, of course, offers a solution in its $299.99 WF-7620—essentially the same wide-format printer with an additional 250-sheet paper cassette tacked on at the bottom, for (when you include the rear 1-sheet override tray) a total of 501 pages from three input sources, which isn’t bad for an under-$300 wide-format inkjet.

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OKI B412dn Monochrome Printer ReviewFor some years now, we’ve squawked that laser and laser-class LED printers were, in terms of their per-page cost of toner, getting too expensive to use. That’s not because they were doing anything different—in fact, the category has been rather steady, nay, stagnant, for some time. But in that period, business inkjets with aggressive ink costs have swooped in and taken away these printers’ lunch, and have their eyes on their milkshakes, too.

If OKI Data’s most recent round of laser-class printers are any indication, at least one printer maker has heard that warning, or at least seen the flock of inkjets circling overhead. In fact, more than one of that company’s most recent monochrome laser-class printers—among them the OKI B512dnwe reviewed back in April of this year—delivered a cost per page (CPP) for toner under 1 cent, given certain circumstances.

It’s good to see laser and LED printers showing signs of life here in 2015, and the Japanese imaging giant has surprised us again, here with its $199-MSRP B412bn Monochrome Printer—the first under-$200 laser-class printer we’ve seen that delivers an under-2-cent per-page cost. The B412dn is the smaller of a pair of single-function monochrome laser-class printers released recently, with the $349 B432dn being the other.

For the additional $150 in the B432dn, you get, among other things, an 80,000-page monthly duty cycle (versus 60,000 in the B412dn) and support for higher-yield (12,000-page) toner cartridges. (That latter factor, the bigger toner cartridge, allows for an even lower CPP.) The B432dn is also rated at 7 pages per minute (ppm) faster, or 42ppm versus 35ppm.

OKI B412dnAside from these somewhat minor differences, these two single-function models—as well as the much faster-rated (47ppm), higher-capacity (100,000-page monthly duty cycle), and much higher-priced ($499 MSRP) B512dn mentioned earlier—are essentially the same in size, appearance, and features. It all comes down to how much you print, and how much savings you might actually garner from a lower CPP. For some users, the slices of a penny per page saved with the B432dn versus the B412dn might be well worth the additional $150 over the long haul.

That said, then, if a midrange laser-class machine like this OKI is what you need, the only real question mark is your day-to-day print volume. To that end, we’ll take a somewhat detailed look at what all these numbers mean—in terms of actual cost and savings as they relate to this OKI.

Before moving on to the next section, though, we should clarify why we call this a “laser-class” printer, as opposed to a pure “laser” printer. Like many of today’s low-cost laser-class machines, this model does not use an actual scanning laser to trace the transfer of toner onto the drum and ultimately to the paper. Instead, it employs a fixed light-emitting diode (LED) array to perform essentially the same function.

The benefits of using this LED technology for printer makers are many, including lower costs, the ability to build smaller machines, and fewer moving parts. Printer users, on the other hand, get smaller, lighter machines that use less power, all else being equal.

Do we recommend the OKI B412dn? Well, for its price and size, we really liked this printer. However, some of OKI’s other models, such as the two mentioned above, may provide better value depending on your printing-volume needs. This one works from a value point of view under a set of narrow circumstances, governed primarily by how much and what you print. We’ll get into all of that over the course of this review.

Otherwise, though, this is a great entry-level printer for pure text output.

Read the entire review at Computer Shopper.

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Dell E515dw Multifunction Monochrome PrinterI’ve looked at several monochrome printers recently, and a few of them were multifunction (print, copy, scan, and fax) printers, or MFPs. One that stood out was OKI Data’s MB492 Multifunction Printer. It printed good-looking black-and-white pages quickly and at a highly competitive cost per page—less than 1-cent per page in some scenarios.

That, of course, was a high-volume machine; even so, with its $599 MSRP, it was a darn good value.

This review, though, is of a low-volume monochrome MFP, Dell’s $219.99 E515dw Multifunction Printer. If yours is a low-volume monochrome printing volume with the occasional need for copying, scanning, and faxing, you should definitely take a closer look at this printer.
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