Summary

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7/10

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Dell 1320c Colour Laser Printer

Dell is becoming a major supplier of printers in its own right and to offer a compact colour laser for a little over £220 puts it in direct competition with names like Canon, HP, Lexmark and Xerox. It's not just the initial price of the printer, though, that determines the overall cost of ownership.

The 1320c is a big, black and silver cube, though not as big as some of its competitors, with angular, functional styling. While the control panel set into the printer's curved, front edge has no LCD display, it does have six indicator LEDs, which show where on the printer there’s a problem, should any occur.

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Things like low toner and paper-out fall into this category and the useful little power light shows orange when the printer is in sleep mode, green when it's ready to print and flashing green when it's receiving data. There are just two control buttons for continuing and halting a current print job.

The printer can take up to 250 sheets of paper in a single tray at the bottom and there's no option for a secondary tray. A single-sheet feed slot is provided for feeding envelopes or special media and all pages exit to the top surface of the machine where there's a fold-out flap to support longer sheets. At the rear is a single USB socket, as one of the economies in the design is making networking services an option; just about the only option available.

Dell has employed an unconventional design in the engine of the 1320c, so you need to follow the quick setup sheet carefully. A better method, though, is to run the setup CD and watch the supplied video which covers every step in detail.

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You have to insert four toner cartridges in the side of the machine, remove the large Print Head Device (PHD) from the front and pull eight packing tapes out, reinsert it and then remove a protective paper sheet from its front. Quite an involved process, which you should take slowly. By contrast, software installation is very simple as there's only a print driver and supplies management applets, all of which install automatically.

The print driver is surprisingly sophisticated, with options for duplex – though disappointingly this is only manual duplex – multiple pages per sheet and colour profiling. Although there are no instructions to perform manual duplex, if you remove the pages from the output tray and insert them in exactly the same orientation into the feed tray, everything works fine.

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