Visit a U.S. supermarket in summer, and you may well see two kinds of watermelons for sale: the ordinary, enormous kind, alongside small, round versions dubbed, amusingly, “personal watermelons.” Those one-man melons always give us a grin—if only for the hokey marketing—but that hasn’t stopped us from tucking one under an arm and heading to checkout.
The same goes for laser printers. “Personal lasers” are nothing new, but seldom have we seen laser printers light enough to lug around and small enough to fit on even the most modest patch of desk. (Inkjet printers, that’s another matter: See for example, our recent review of the HP Officejet 150, a full-fledged portable all-in-one model.) In fact, until now, we knew of only one—Samsung’s $129-list ML-2165W, which we reviewed back in April 2012. Not only did this monochrome printer’s diminutive size impress us, but we also appreciated its fast performance and great-looking output.
Dell has followed suit with its own—well, sort of its own—little powerhouse, the B1160w. We say “sort of” because the B1160w is an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) model built by Samsung for Dell. In essence, it’s the ML-2165W in Dell’s clothing. Except for Dell’s signature all-black case (as opposed to the Samsung model’s beige one) and a slightly different control panel, these two models look very much the same on the outside. They also perform similarly and deliver the same excellent output.
Dell went Samsung one better, though, by offering the B1160w at a slightly lower list price, and by selling the printer’s toner cartridges at a lower cost per page (CPP). In addition, if you don’t need this model’s Wi-Fi connectivity, you can opt for a USB-only version, the B1160, for just $99. (That said, we’ve seen the ML-2165W sold on some online outlets of late for as little as $69.99. Shop around carefully if you’re considering one of these models, since you might score a real bargain.)
Like any low-cost “personal” laser printer, the B1160w has a few shortcomings. It’s a single-function monochrome printer, after all; all you can do with it is print black-and white-pages. Conversely, for the same price or less, you can buy a relatively feature-rich multifunction color inkjet printer that prints, copies, scans, and perhaps also faxes. But then, with an inkjet, you’d forfeit this model’s laser-quality text printing, fast print speed, and high—for a printer in this price range, anyway—recommended monthly duty cycle. (“Duty cycle” is the highest number of prints the manufacturer says you can print in a given period without prematurely wearing out the printer.) In addition, also consider that a similarly priced multifunction inkjet will be about twice the size of the B1160w, so one of this model’s primary attractions is its trim dimensions.
Don’t let the B1160w’s small stature fool you, though. It prints monochrome text, business graphics, and gray-scale images with the high quality you’d expect from a laser printer, at speeds comparable to some other higher-priced laser machines.
Read the full review at Computer Shopper.