Dell 3010cn review

Price when reviewed

The Dell 3010cn looks distinctly futuristic, and its two-line LCD with live toner levels and a full menu system represents the most space-age user interface of the group.

Dell 3010cn review

Do the maths, though, and you’ll be brought down to earth with a bump. The 3010cn is the most uneconomical printer on test thanks to its expensive consumables. Over 50,000 colour pages, the Dell will cost you £2,000 more than the Konica Minolta 2500W – a price premium of nearly 50%. Even the upfront deal is unappealing: the 3010cn is the only printer here to cost over £200. The 3010cn may boast a network interface and a year of next-business-day on-site service, but Dell bundles colour toners with a low capacity of 1,000 pages.

The extra expense could be justified if the results were special, but the 3010cn did little to set itself apart from the crowd. Its monochrome speed of 24ppm approached the top of the class, but its colour print speed of 5ppm fell near the bottom. Plain text quality was well up to par: letters were even and crisp, with almost no smudging even when printing 2pt text on regular copy paper. Coloured text, however, suffered from ragged dithering.

The 3010cn’s dithering was more effective for images; shades and gradients came out smooth and even, and our photographs appeared bold and crisp. The photo-enhancement driver option gave the colours striking vibrancy. Unfortunately, mono images suffered from horizontal banding, cheapening the overall appearance with subtle striping. More problematic was that the 3010cn seemed unable to produce pale shades, either in monochrome or colour. While mid-tones were clear and even, gradients dropped off abruptly as they approached white, with the result that soft fades came out with hard edges. In other words, the 3010cn’s output doesn’t match up to what you see on screen.

Given the impressive results we’ve seen from the competition, we expected a lot from the largest, most expensive unit on test. Unfortunately, the Dell 3010cn gave us few reasons to recommend it.

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