Like many modern all-in-one printers, the Dell V515w includes an 802.11b/g wireless card that's supposed to help you cut the cord and free up USB ports that would otherwise be used for an inelegant connection to the host computer. The wireless installation disc that comes in the bundle does an adequate job of walking you through the Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) using your wireless router's SSID and WPA password, but our connection kept giving us an error message that said "Cannot Print over a Wireless Network" despite the green notification light that supposedly indicates a solid connection.
The message goes away after power-cycling the printer and the computer on and off again, but the message kept appearing intermittently, to our confusion. We went online and found that other V515w users reported similar errors on the Amazon.com customer reviews site, and Dell.com support didn't have an answer either. We always default to a hardwired USB connection for our speed tests so the printer doesn't waste time pinging the router before sending a job through to the printer, but we can't imagine the average consumer having an easier time establishing a network connection.
The V515w uses two separate cartridges for tricolor and black inks and ships with standard-capacity cartridges in the box. Alternatively, Dell also sells high-capacity ink cartridges on the company's Web site, but the page yield numbers are no longer listed on the site so we can't accurately calculate the cost per page. We can tell you that the standard cartridge didn't even last long enough for us to finish our quality and speed test, and the customer complaints on Amazon.com and the Dell.com purchase pages echo our experience.
The Dell V515w made quick work of all four speed document tests compared with the competition, producing text pages at a chart-topping rate of 8.39 pages per minute (PPM) over Lexmark, HP, Kodak, and Canon units. The presentation and color graphics page tests yielded average results at 3.5PPM and 3.35PPM respectively, but the printer lagged while printing single 4x6-inch snapshot photos due to a significant pause between prints to allow for the ink to dry on the page before picking up the next sheet.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|Presentation speed (PPM)||Photo speed (1 Sheet)||Color graphics speed (PPM)||Text speed (PPM)|
We weren't quite as impressed with the image quality put out by the Dell. While our full sheet of plain black text looked presentable at first, a closer inspection showed several jagged lines at the corners of text in small fonts, specifically in italicized text--white text on a colored background became unreadable at less than 5 points. Even at the high-quality setting, we wouldn't recommend using this printer for printing PowerPoint presentations or any document to be used in a professional environment. Furthermore, the color graphics page is marred by an overall faded look with a slightly yellow overcast, significantly departing from the color palette of the original image. We can't find any positive things to say about the image quality here, and despite several ink head cleanings and calibrations, the image just doesn't come out as sharp, or as accurate, as we'd expect from a $150 printer.
Service and support
Dell backs the Photo 926 with a one-year warranty, though you can pay to upgrade to two or three years of coverage. Toll-free phone support is available 24-7, and Dell's site offers e-mail support and user forums. Dell's Web site also has product-specific support in the form of online user guides, drivers and software downloads, and a troubleshooting tool.
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