Dell's range of all-in-one printers continues to grow and the 968 sits near the top of the UK range. Designed for a high-end home customer or for a SOHO environment, the device supports print, scan, copy and fax, as well as being able to print from memory cards and cameras.
Most of Dell's all-in-one printers are made for it by Lexmark and the 968 looks very much like something out of the latter's latest range of devices. Coloured in silver and white, with a wraparound look to its corners, it manages to appear a bit less boxy than machines from its alter ego.
The horizontal, indented Auto-Document Feed (ADF) tray is a nice touch, as is the beautifully simple control panel. For a four-in-one machine like this, a simple number keypad and a total of nine other buttons control all functions of the machine. They work with a 61mm LCD display, which has a well-designed menu and feedback system, including animated instructions for jobs like changing ink cartridges.
There's a ‘150-sheet' paper tray at the front, though Lexmark must use lightweight paper, as we could only get around 120 sheets of 80gsm office paper under the maximum loading marker. On top of the paper tray is a single-sheet feed for envelopes or 15 x 10cm photo blanks. To its right are two memory cards slots, which combine to accept all the common types, and a PictBridge socket for cameras.
At the back of the 968 is a single USB 2 socket and another for phone line connection for the built-in fax. You can also install a combined Ethernet and WiFi adapter, a duplexer and an extra 150-sheet tray as options.
Set up is straightforward. Lift the scanner section, which is supported on sprung hinges, and clip black and tri-colour cartridges into the holders in the carriage. If you're printing photos, you may want to exchange the black cartridge for a three-colour photo one, though this isn't supplied as standard.
Dell provides Abbyy FineReader OCR and Corel's Snapfire photo manager, fax software and the 968's driver. This gives good support to the scan, as well as the print functions of the machine. It has sufficient optical resolution to be able to scan photo prints, as well as text pages for recognition.
Dell claims 31ppm for black print and 27ppm for colour. It took us 51 seconds to print our five page text document, after a 28 second start up from sleep mode. Subsequent documents, of course, don't require the start-up, but you're still talking less than 6ppm for normal mode, black print. Forget 31ppm, unless you're printing very short documents in draft mode and excluding rasterising time.