Dell 2145cn MFP printer review

This duplex capable Dell multi-function printer seems to have all the bases covered.

Physical set up is very straightforward, as pulling down the whole of the front panel reveals four integrated drum and toner cartridges, each of which slides in on runners and locates positively when in position. Software setup is also simple, with utilitarian management tools and the oddly named SmarThru scanning software, which gives the lie to this machine's origin as a Samsung device. There are drivers available for Windows 2000, XP and Vista, OS X and a variety of Linux distributions.

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Dell rates this machine at 20ppm for both black and colour prints and with separate drums for each colour and a single pass mechanism, there should be little difference in speed. This is pretty much what we saw, with a five-page text document producing a speed of 7.32ppm and a five-page text and colour graphics document showing 7.50ppm. Note neither of these speeds is particularly close to the advertised figure, though the machine did creep up to 13.64ppm when printing a longer, 20-page document.

We were keen to test out the duplex functions of the 2145cn and in particular to see if it could correctly copy a duplex document. Although it took a bit of fiddling to get the right settings, it's perfectly possible to get a two-sided copy from both single-sided and two-sided originals.

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There was more trouble with the USB socket. Although the printer recognised all the USB stick drives we tried, it didn't show any folders or files on two of them, so there may be a problem working with certain brands of drive.

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Print quality for text is very good, but there are very few laser printers for which this isn't true. Printed business graphics are rather brighter than on the documents they're printed from, but registration of black text over colour is good. Colour copies are even more intense and there's a certain amount of blotchiness in areas of solid colour. However, even copied documents are fine for internal use.

The drum and toner cartridges are available in standard (2,000 colour and 2,500 black pages) and high yield (5,000 colour and 5,500 black) versions. Using the high yield consumables produces costs of 1.95p for ISO black pages and 9.20p for ISO colour. These costs are on the high side, but not outside the range of other machines in this market.

Overall, this is a good, functional printer, easy to maintain, with high-capacity consumables though it could do with a bigger paper tray.


This is a rugged, well-conceived colour laser multifunction, which is easy to maintain and offers good economy. Its ability to scan, as well as print, in duplex mode makes it relatively eco-friendly and although colour print quality is nothing special, it's adequate for general office duties.

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DPI: 600 x 600dpi, 20/20ppm A4 colour laser multi-function Paper tray: 1 x 250 sheet paper tray + 100 sheet multi-purpose tray Duty cycle: 1,000 – 7,000 pages per month Connections: USB 2, Ethernet Languages: PCL 6 and PostScript L3 in emulation Features: Duplex print, copy and scan, USB drive port

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