Like most of the budget monochrome printers in Dell's product lineup, the B1160w wireless laser printer is a mediocre performer for the price, capable of serving up a limited amount of prints in a personal-use environment, like a dorm room or a home office.
Its 150-sheet paper input capacity and lack of Ethernet connectivity certainly aren't ideal for medium and large work groups, but the company builds in 802.11 b/g/n wireless and Dell's mobile printing apps for Android smartphones. If you don't have a lot of money to spend on a printer but still need a wireless device for use around the home, you won't regret investing in the $120 Dell B1160w.
Design and features
The B1160w is easy to set up thanks to an intuitive software guide and the printer's compact dimensions. The printer measures 13.03 inches wide, 8.46 inches deep, and 7 inches tall, so you should still have plenty of room on your desk to work on after setting it up next to a computer. Like many laser printers, Dell uses a conservative black design with a curved paper path that places the output tray on top of the small, rectangular unit.
Conversely, the input tray pulls down from the lower half of the front and can only hold 150 sheets of standard 8.5-inch-by-11-inch paper, so don't expect to print out multiple articles from Wikipedia without refilling the drawer at least once. Dell also claims it can handle approximately 10,000 pages a month (also called the "duty cycle"), which should be more than enough for individual use. Unlike its pricier linemate, the Dell 1130n, this printer lacks the ability to print on cardstock and envelopes without an included single-sheet manual feed slot.
According to Dell, the B1160 is compatible with a variety of Windows versions including 32- and 64-bit Vista and 7, 2000, XP, and Server, as well as Linux and Mac OS 10.4 through 10.7. The onscreen instructions guide you through the 2-minute unboxing, physical setup, and software installation process using the included USB cable.
Unfortunately, the printer's modest price tag means you also don't get the benefit of connecting multiple users to the device on an Ethernet network. The good news is that you can still cut the cord, at least for personal use. The integrated 802.11 b/g/n wireless print server is easy to get going thanks to the detailed instructional booklet that comes in the package and the simplified wireless setup on the driver.
I hesitate to call the top portion of the printer a "control panel," since you only get two buttons for power and alert. Considering the simple features of a monolaser, you won't likely need more. On the other hand, the fixed 90-degree angle of the button layout means that depending on how high you have the printer on your desk, you may need to stand up to see them. Overall, the controls are intuitive to navigate, so even the most amateur users won't likely run into snags during operation.