Dell 1320c Color Laser Printer review: Dell 1320c Color Laser Printer

Features
The Dell 1320c has the basic features you'd expect from a basic color laser printer. The base model connects via USB only, but you can add on a network adapter for $50. It ships with a 333MHz processor and 64MB of nonexpandable memory. There's no duplexer unit available for the 1320c, but the printer's driver will assist you with a manual duplex print job. Likewise, the driver can help you shrink or enlarge a print, create a poster or booklet print, and make N-up prints.

Performance
Compared to its similarly priced competition, the Dell 1320c is a bit slow with black prints, but faster with color. It printed black text at a rate of 12.11ppm, slower than the Samsung CLP-300N, the Oki C3400n, and the Lexmark C500n. With black graphics, it fell well behind both the Lexmark and the Oki, but was much faster than the Samsung. The Dell was the fastest of the bunch at color prints, just edging out the Oki and was the second fastest at color graphics, falling behind the Oki.

CNET Labs' color laser speed tests (pages per minute)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Color graphics  
Color text  
Black graphics  
Black text  
Lexmark C500n
6.43 
6.88 
19.80 
19.86 
Oki C3400n
11.92 
8.38 
16.01 
15.55 
Samsung CLP-300
3.71 
3.77 
3.68 
13.49 
Dell 1320c
9.94 
8.79 
13.11 
12.11 

The Dell's print quality was more than serviceable for a small office or work group. The black text print showed excellent quality, though the text leaned more toward dark gray than a true black. The color text could be improved with better color blending. The black graphics print looked faded (again, more dark gray than black), and the photo elements need to be sharpened up. The color graphics print showed the most problems. We saw banding in color and grayscale gradients, and the colors were too ruddy while the blacks weren't dark enough. We also noticed that the Dell had problems handling barcode patterns. On the other hand, the photo elements showed good detail, and color blocks were nicely saturated. Overall, the Dell 1320c's print quality is good enough for normal office use, but it's not the best choice if you value speedy black prints.

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