Dell 1320c review

£179
Price when reviewed

Outwardly, the Dell 1320c is a distinctive, and not unattractive, black cube. Inside, though, it looks suspiciously similar to the Xerox Phaser 6130. Still, there’s no shame in that, and on closer examination we found a few key differences between the two models.

In two obvious ways, the Dell is a lesser printer: it offers neither an LCD panel, nor any sort of network connection. You might expect some penny-pinching from the cheapest printer in this category, but when there’s only £21 between this and the Xerox (which has both) it rankles a little.

As you might expect, running costs for the two printers are almost identical, too. Compared to the rest of our colour lasers, they’re merely average for monochrome printing, and slightly dearer than average when colour printing is factored in.

In our speed tests, the 1320c’s results were again merely average, but it did have one unusual quirk: it repeatedly paused for several seconds during our 50-page monochrome test, which meant it was one of the slowest of the bunch for that test.

But, just when we were ready to write off the 1320c as an also-ran, it put in a fantastic showing in our quality tests. Its blacks were among the cleanest and most solid on show, and gradients were pleasingly smooth and even. Text was well defined, even at tiny point sizes. Photo reproduction was remarkably good for such a cheap printer, too, with great colour and clarity.

Most of this month’s colour printers are designed as workgroup machines, but the 1320c is evidently aimed at the individual. And if you just want to run off a few mono pages a day, plus the occasional colour image, the low initial price makes it an affordable option with great print quality. Replace the toner cartridges a few times, though, and the price looks rather less attractive, especially for a printer that’s neither as fast nor as fully featured as its rivals. Ultimately, the 1320c is only a good choice for relatively light personal use.

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