Dell is seen more and more as a supplier of printers, as well as PCs, although many of its printing devices are designed and made by Lexmark. The 1720dn has suggestions of Lexmark roots, but sufficient differences to distinguish it from the likes of the E352dn.
This is a small, neat, very boxy personal laser, coloured in a two-tone black and dark metal finish that will see it fit into most home and business environments without shouting. The layout is conventional with a 250-sheet paper tray at the bottom, a single sheet feed slot above that and the output tray set into the printer’s top surface.
The control panel consists of six LEDs indicating power, ready, replace toner or drum, paper out and output tray full, paper jam and software error. This is rather more indicators than is normal for entry-level laser printers and isn’t as easy to read or as informative as an LCD. Two buttons control Continue and Cancel functions. At the back of the printer are data sockets for USB2.0, parallel and 10/100 Ethernet.
When you come to set the printer up you’ll find the drum and toner unit pre-installed, though you’ll have to remove it and take off the packing before it’ll work. The front cover of the printer folds down to provide easy access to the drum and toner, which is provided as a single unit. However, you can replace the toner cartridge up to 10 times before the drum needs changing depending on the capacity of the toner cartridges you use.
The supplied drum and toner are part of Dell’s Use and Return programme where you’re obliged to return them to Dell when buying a replacement. This helps with recycling of course, but also restricts your choice if you want to buy consumables elsewhere. You can buy cartridges which aren’t Use and Return, but they cost more.
As well as the printer driver, Dell provides a toner management utility, which reminds you when you need to re-order, and a web-based management utility for controlling the printer over a network.
The printer driver is well organised and includes full control of double-sided print – the printer comes with a built-in duplexer – and booklet printing. It can deal with multi-page prints up to 16 per sheet and print posters at up to 3 x 3 pages. It can also add watermarks to a print job on all pages or selected ones.