Dell 5350dn review

Dell isn't well known for its printers, so is the company's latest departmental mono laser a warmed-over effort or a tasty treat? Simon Handby finds out in our review.

As you'd expect for this class, the 5350dn can be upgraded with a variety of add-ons covering storage, connectivity, practicality and paper handling. The standard paper cassette can comfortably hold a full ream and the output tray holds a reasonable 350-pages, but it's possible to upgrade the paper handling to impressive maximums. It's not cheap, however: upgrading to the maximum 4,300-page input would total 886, while bringing the output to the maximum 2,750 sheets would cost 458.

The 5350dn can be upgraded with a variety of add-ons covering storage, connectivity, practicality and paper handling.

In use the 5350dn is as loud as you'd expect, with plenty of noise from the cooling fans and paper transport. Clunks and thumps are generally very well suppressed, but our review sample made a bizarre knocking noise when printing envelopes. It didn't seem to affect the results, however; they printed flawlessly.

The 5350dn's plain paper print quality was equally impressive, with crisp text and well-rendered graphics. The quality of our test PowerPoint slides and pages containing a mix of text and high-resolution graphics was as good as we've seen from a mono laser, while photographs though less impressive were above average.

Our print tests include the time taken to prepare and spool print jobs, so it's no surprise that over 25 pages of text the 5350dn fell far short of Dell's claimed 48ppm. Timed over a 100-page run it edged towards 44ppm, leaving us in no doubt that it's a highly rapid text printer. We were pleasantly surprised by its short warm-up time, with the first page appearing in just 25 seconds after two hours in sleep mode.

While photo printing at 1,200dpi was very quick, we were less impressed with the 5350dn's speed when tackling our graphical test with normal print settings. The PCL driver seemed slow to prepare the 24-page job, and the printer had to pause momentarily to allow the most graphics-rich pages to be processed, resulting in a disappointing speed of just 10.7ppm. Provided graphics prints will be reasonably infrequent, however, their high print quality does make them worth waiting for.

So what's our verdict?

Verdict

With a single consumable and a painless installer and driver, Dell's 5350dn should prove cost-effective to deploy and maintain, with huge scope for customisation and expansion if needed. It's one of the cheaper printers you can buy in this class, but you wouldn't suspect it from its speed, specification or print quality. It wouldn't be our choice if the lowest running costs were a priority, however, and we're unimpressed with its standard warranty. The printer's good value, but less so if you have to budget for a warranty upgrade or it's destined for especially heavy use.

MAXIMUM PRINT RESOLUTION 1,200x1,200dpi QUOTED PRINT SPEED A4 48ppm TESTED PRINT SPEEDS First page from standby: 11s First page from sleep: 25s 25-page text document - total time: 41s (36.6ppm) 100-page text document - total time: 2m 17s (43.8ppm) 24-page graphics document - total time: 2m 14s (10.7ppm) Two 10x8" photos - total time: 14s Six 6x4" photos - total time: 15s PHYSICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL Standard interfaces: USB2, 10/100 Mbit/s Ethernet Optional interfaces: Wireless networking, Gigabit Ethernet Dimensions (HxWxD): 427x425x510mm Weight: 23kg Noise: 55dB(A) Maximum duty cycle (pages per month): 225,000 pages Power consumption standby: 11W Power consumption idle: 13W Power consumption active: 1103W PAPER HANDLING Maximum paper size: A4/legal Maximum paper weight: 163gsm Standard paper inputs (capacity): 2 (650 sheets) Output tray capacity: 350 sheets Duplex: Yes GENERAL Technology: Monochrome laser Language(s): PCL5e, PCL6, PPDS, XPS, PDF 1.6, Direct Image and PostScript 3 Supported operating systems: Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7, Windows Server 2000/2003 running Terminal Services with Citrix MetaFrame Presentation Server, Windows Server 2008, Mac OS 9.2 or later, various Linux distributions Memory: 128MB Upgrades: Up to 512MB RAM (total 600MB), up to three additional 550-sheet input trays and/or 2,000-sheet high-capacity feeder (4,300 max input capacity), 550-sheet output expander and/or 1,850-sheet output stacker (2,750 max output capacity), 80GB hard disk, N8120 Gigabit Ethernet adapter, N8150 wireless interface, Staple finisher kit, Envelope feeder kit, Caster base. Various warranty upgrades up to five-year next business day onsite (£529) BUYING INFORMATION Price: £503 (£604 inc VAT) Cost per A4 page: 0.71p (ex VAT, ISO/IEC 19752) Capacity of supplied toner (pages): 10,000 Warranty duration and terms: One-year next business day (return to base)

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