Dell rates this machine slightly faster than the 1250c, at 15ppm for a black page and 12ppm for colour. As usual, these claims are optimistic, though the speeds we measured are higher than the earlier printer.
Our five-page black text document completed in 44s, giving a real-world speed of 6.8ppm, but this rose to 10ppm on the 20-page document, two thirds of the speed on the spec sheet. Our five-page black text and colour graphics test returned 7.5ppm, five eighths of the claim. So not bad at all.
There's no draft mode as such, though toner-save does what it says, while taking as long to print. A 15 x 10 cm photo on an A4 sheet, printed at best quality, took 34s, but 25s of that was taken up by pre-processing, before the paper started to feed.
This is a quiet printer, peaking at under 60dBA and without any annoying sound peaks. It just sits in the background and generally goes unnoticed.
Print quality is very good for the class of printer. Black text is clean and fine enough to give clear glyphs at even small sizes. Toner save reduces the contrast of text, but it’s still very readable and suitable for internal documents.
Colour graphics are bright and dense, so colour fills are vibrant and don’t show any banding or dither patterns. This doesn’t mean that natural images, such as landscape photos, are over-colourful, though. That said, our test photo was better than some samples from more expensive lasers and, although dark detail was lost to black in places, the overall print was good for a laser-style printer.
All this is good, but tipping the scales the other way is the cost of running the machine. Although Dell has reduced the cost of its consumables, it’s only a marginal drop. Two cartridge capacities are available and even using the larger, more economical offerings, it still works out at 3.8p for a black page and 17.0p for a colour one, including 0.7p for paper in each case.
This is high. For comparison, the £172 Brother HL-3040CN costs 14.0p for a colour page, a full three pence per page cheaper than this Dell. However, the 1350cnw remains cheaper than the all-time dearest colour laser, Xerox’s phaser 6010 Phaser 6010, which uses the same engine and costs 21p per colour page.
Print quality: fine. Print speed: reasonable. Size: better than most. Serviceability: excellent. It was all going so well for the 1350cnw until it came to running costs. Do you really want to pay 17p for every colour page you print, particularly when business-level inkjet printers offer the same thing for under 10p?