The concept of the personal laser printer has been around for many years. The models that have fitted the bill haven’t changed that much in overall design, either; a small box feeding paper from a modest paper tray, through a simple laser print engine, to arrive on top of the machine. That's it.
The main advances have been speed, which has risen, and cost, which has dropped. The Dell 1130 laser is a neat little machine, fulfilling this spec well. It has a 250-sheet paper tray at the bottom of its front panel, with a single-sheet multi-purpose slot positioned just above and feeds pages to an indentation in its top cover, in the traditional way. There's a flip-up paper support which lifts pages to a jaunty angle, but in many cases you can leave this folded shut.
Controls set into the top surface could hardly be simpler, with an illuminated power button, another for stopping printing jobs and two indicators, for data and error conditions.
The printer manages to look smaller than it actually is by having a well-designed rear bulge, covering the back end of the paper tray and housing the machine's power supply. From most angles at the front of the desk this bulge isn't visible, leaving the printer looking unusually petite.
The only data connection is a USB socket, though if you need network connectivity, the 1130n can provide this for £140, which seems quite a step up from the price of this model.
The single-piece drum and toner cartridge slots in from the front, once you've folded down the front cover. It's the work of seconds to slot in a replacement. Software is pretty minimal, with a toner management utility more to the benefit of Dell than the customer. Drivers, however, are provided for Windows and various Linux builds. Unusually, and perhaps the start of a trend, Dell also provides a driver for OS X from version 10.3 upwards.