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Dell claims up to 16ppm for black text print and up to 12ppm for colour. Unusually, in our tests colour print was marginally quicker than mono black print. Our five-page text document completed in 43 seconds, giving a real world print speed of 6.98ppm, but the colour text and graphics prints took four seconds less at 39 seconds, a speed of 7.7ppm. The photographic 15 x 10cm colour print took 19 seconds. None of these print speeds is particularly spectacular, even for a comparatively inexpensive colour laser printer such as this.
Print quality is generally pretty good. Black text is dense and well formed even though the printer's resolution at 600dpi is lower than some of its rivals. Solid colour, as in business graphics, is also generally good but we did notice some slight mis-registration of black text over-printing colour backgrounds. That said, in normal use this won’t be a problem.
The photographic print wasn’t spectacular, but no worse than from several other colour lasers in this price bracket. Interestingly, the 1320c made a better job of the image when set to automatic colour than when we went into the driver and chose colour correction for landscape photos.
Total running costs are confused by Dell’s way of handling maintenance. While you can buy toner in either of two cartridge capacities - 1,000 and 2,000 pages - the PHD and transfer belt will also run out at some stage. Dell says this is covered by its service package, which is free in the first year and costs a very reasonable £140 to extend up to the end of the fourth.
To work out overall running costs, we added the toner costs to a notional duty cycle of 100,000 pages over four years (probably high for a small-business, colour laser) using Dell's four-year service option. This produced a page cost of 2.41p for 5% black print and 9.40p for 20% colour. Black print cost is reasonable, but that figure for colour is high, the majority of it coming from the £44, high-yield colour toner cartridges.
There are good and bad things to say about Dell's 1320c colour laser. It's nicely turned out, runs quietly and produces good quality print, but is comparatively expensive to run and lacks any real expansion potential. To add colour to business documents in a small office it would be good value, but it's unlikely to keep up if your business expands.