Folding down the front-panel drawer uncovers two separate paper bays: one to hold 150 sheets of plain white paper, and a detachable plastic lip on top that corrals outgoing sheets. The tray also features slides on the sides that allow the user to adjust for standard legal paper as well as alternative media sources like coated paper, envelopes, and labels.
The monochrome toner cartridge is easy to pull out after you disengage the plastic front panel, and Dell includes a standard-capacity toner cartridge with the unit. You can pick up a refill that will supposedly print 1,500 sheets for $59.99 on the Dell Web site . Doing the math, that comes out to about 3.9 cents per page, just under the average cost for a plain sheet of black ink on both laser and inkjet printers. Unfortunately you're out of luck if you find yourself printing more than average, since the site makes no mention of an extra-large-capacity toner cartridge that works with the B1160w.
The B1160w trails behind the competition in our monochrome text and graphics throughput tests, but the difference between the scores is so slight that you won't likely notice a speed difference unless you're consistently printing multipage (20+) documents at a time. While Dell can't match the Oki B431DN's impressive 33.86-page-per-minute (PPM) text speed scores, it was still able to beat the Lexmark E460dw while printing out a 10-page slideshow presentation.
The Dell B1160w performed well in the output quality tests as well, but the graphics quality needs improvement. As expected, it printed a beautiful page of black text with solid lines and clean edges with uniform character spacing and full-formed figures, but the printer failed to deliver similar results with a page of graphics.
While I still don't doubt its ability in the boardroom for handouts and presentation documents, I did notice malformed gradations and inconsistency in the finer lines. The same story goes for snapshot photos, although we'll assume you aren't buying a monolaser to support your photography career.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|Presentation (PPM)||Black Graphics (PPM)||Black Text (PPM)|
Service and support
The standard warranty for the Dell B1160w lasts one year, but you can upgrade it to up to four additional years. Dell provides free, toll-free phone support 24-7, but recommends trying the live online chat option first. For less urgent inquiries, you can also contact Dell's e-mail support team or check out its 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.
The Dell B1160w monochrome laser printer is an efficient, dependable workhorse for individual use at home or on your work desk. The ability to add users over a wireless network is useful as well, but keep in mind that the low price means that you won't get fancy features like an auto-document feeder, manual bypass feed tray, or an Ethernet port. If you're comfortable with those omissions, you'll be satisfied with your purchase.