REVIEW: Dell B1265dnf

Office printers live a thankless life. Often tucked away out of site and without so much as a nod of appreciation, the office printer is the silent hero of the business. Sure we’re edging closer to the paperless office as each year passes, but for most of us the working day doesn’t pass without printing or scanning some kind of information—invoices, receipts, presentations, web pages, recipes (shhhh!).

Choose the right printer and these chores are effortless. Pick the wrong printer and you’ll have a fear of paper jams, network issues and constant ink replacement. Dell’s latest A4 all-in-one (print, copy, scan, fax) monochrome A4 laser printer is designed to deliver effortless network integration, ease-of-use and value for machines running Windows (XP or later), Mac OS (10.4 to 10.7) or Linux. And it delivers.

From the outset

The Dell B1265dnf is a low-cost but extremely robust monochrome laser printer. It’s not designed for large workgroups, hence its current price of £203 (ex. VAT), but for small teams and home workers it’s a good choice. The printer is extremely well built—nothing flimsy here—and is a snap to set up on an Ethernet network or direct to a computer using USB 2.0. It’s a shame there’s no built-in wireless, but on the plus side it keeps the setup complexity and price down.

Dell includes everything in the box to get the B1265dnf up and running in your office, including a paper-based quick-start guide, driver software, USB and Ethernet cables, and a phone cable for fax connectivity. One of the most appealing selling points of the B1265dnf is its compact size (406 x 338 x 384mm, 11.1kg), thanks to it being a monochrome device with only one toner cartridge. Colour lasers, on the other hand, are much larger as they accommodate four toner cartridges.

Considering the unit offers monochrome laser printing (600 x 600 dpi), colour flatbed scanning (1200 x 1200 dpi), monochrome copying, and monochrome faxing, it has a similar footprint to many office inkjet all-in-ones. Further benefits include a modest monthly duty cycle (up to 20,000 pages), print speed of up to 28ppm (A4), a 250-sheet input paper tray (150-sheet face down output), and competitive running costs. In addition to the input tray, you can feed up to 10 specialty pages through the override tray behind the printer hatch door.

Office workhorse

The B1265dnf is an imaging solution for home offices and small-to-medium businesses, and we were impressed with its reliable print management and its performance when digitising content for sharing throughout an organisation.

A highlight is the Eco mode (dedicated button on control panel), which automatically engages two-sided printing and reduces toner usage by printing in draft mode, and the ability to prevent incoming and outgoing faxes from being accessed by unauthorised personnel by setting up a PIN. You can also use a PC to enable a fax to be sent from the B1265dnf, and incoming faxes can also be programed to be sent directly to a PC.

Copying features are also practical. Pressing the “ID copy” button on the control panel lets you copy both sides of an ID card on a single side of paper. Additional copy features include clone copy, poster copy and N-up copy (copying two or more pages to one piece of paper).

You can even print photos, documents, web content and more direct from an Android mobile device using the Dell Mobile Print app or directly print from an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch using AirPrint. Airprint works with a variety of apps including Safari, Mail, Photos, iWork and PDFs in iBooks.

And by using Google Cloud Print, you can make the B1265dnf available from a smartphone, tablet, Chromebook, PC, and any other Web-connected device. As good as they are, sadly these apps just aren’t as convenient as connecting to and printing from the B1265dnf directly over Wi-Fi.

Summary

Dell’s B1265dnf certainly helps to maximise user productivity and office efficiency by offering an impressive combination of performance and value. It isn’t the most feature-rich all-in-one on the market, but it’s affordable (Dell discount vouchers are easily available on the Web), easy-to-use, and allows you to create a flexible and collaborative digital document ecosystem over a wired network or the Internet.

There are a few shortcomings, however, such as the small LCD which isn’t backlit and can make viewing difficult in low lighting—even though it tilts for easier viewing. And there’s no advanced security management (LDAP or Kerberos authentication). Wi-Fi printing is also absent, so you’ll have to consider more cable clutter. While the ADF lets you scan, copy, and fax multipage documents automatically, it does not support automatic duplexing. To scan two-sided multipage documents, you have to scan pages on one side, then turn the sheets over to scan the other sides.

The B1265dnf performs well for its class and produces good-looking documents, so it’s a good fit for small businesses with modest print-volume requirements (up to 100 pages per day). Print any more and you’ll save money in the long term with a pricier model with a higher duty cycle. Overall the B1265dnf is a very good all-in-one monochrome laser printer that’s worth every penny of its asking price. We’d like it even more if it included Wi-Fi.

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