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Canon imageCLASS LBP151dw review: Canon imageCLASS LBP151dw review: A single-function laser printer with pricey toner refills

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Single-function printers -- those without scanning or copying capability -- are a rare species these days, but a simple monochrome laser printer like the Canon imageCLASS LBP151dw ($169, £119, AU$230) is all you really need if you print mostly text documents and don't have a need for color output. The printer is fast to spit out jobs and it's great for connecting to a variety of computers and mobile devices. But printers are ultimately judged by the cost of their consumables, and the LBP151dw will ultimately cost you a lot more to refill the toner than competing devices.

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6.3

Canon imageCLASS LBP151dw

The Good

The Canon LBP151DW is adept at printing high quality text documents with respectable print speeds. With the help of its 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi print server, it can also connect to the cloud to print directly from mobile devices and Google Chrome Web browsers.

The Bad

The printer can't scan or copy documents; doesn't support Apple AirPrint; the toner refills are more expensive than average.

The Bottom Line

The Canon LBP151DW is a competent workhorse laser printer, but rival models offer more features and lower ink costs for the same price.

Canon imageCLASS LBP151dw

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Design

The imageCLASS LBP151dw is your basic black box of a printer. You can load 250 sheets of basic white paper into the tray on the bottom, or you can also feed different types of media like card stock or envelopes into the manual feed tray.

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Canon imageCLASS LBP151dw

Sarah Tew/CNET

The unit measures 15.4-inches (39.1 cm) wide, 13.2-inches (33.5 cm) deep and 9.7-inches (24.6 cm) tall, which means it's bigger than the HP LaserJet Pro P1102W and not quite as compact as the Brother HL-L2360DW, but it should still fit just fine on a small desk without taking up too much space.

There's no display on the front so you can't monitor the progress of a multi-page job, but that's to be expected for a monolaser printer. There is, however, an indicator button that lights up on the control panel if you're out of paper, or if there's a jam to clear. To that end, I never experienced a single paper jam in the few days I spent testing the Canon.

Canon imageCLASS LBP151dw

Price as reviewed $84, £59 UK, $114 AU
Dimensions in Inches (Width x Depth x Height)  15.4" x 13.2" x 9.7" (39.1 cm x 33. cm x 24.6 cm)
Functions Print
Inks 1 black toner cartridge
Automatic 2-sided printing (duplexer) Yes
Automatic Document Feeder No
Memory Card Reader No
Connectivity USB, Ethernet, Canon PRINT Business app, Mopria Print Services, Google Cloud Print
Paper Input Tray Capacity 250 Sheets
Display None

Features

The LBP151dw was designed for the economic-minded and has a built-in auto-duplexer, which is just a fancy way of saying that it can flip a sheet and print on both sides before spitting out the paper.

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Canon imageCLASS LBP151dw

Sarah Tew/CNET

Here's a pro tip if you're printer shopping for an office with high volume printing needs: Be sure to check out the manufacturer's recommended "monthly duty cycle." You can usually find the number hidden within the long list of specifications for any particular model, and it tells you the maximum amount of pages you can print per month. In this case, the LBP151dw can output 15,000 pages a month -- by comparison, the similarly priced Brother HL-L2360DW is only rated at 10,000.

As always, connectivity options are important, especially if you're using this for a small business. The LBP151dw can hook up to your computer up using a USB cable or you can put it on your network for multiple people to use by running an Ethernet cable between your router and the printer.

Of course, there's an 802.11 b/g/n network server built into the device so you can connect wirelessly, or you can print through any Google Chrome browser using Google Cloud Print. Weirdly absent is AirPrint -- for easy printing from iPhones and iPads -- despite its presence on other Canon printers. That said, the printer supports mobile printing through the Canon PRINT Business app for iOS and the Mopria Print Service app for Android.

Toner cost

The big drawback for this printer is the cost of toner refills. Canon charges $84 (£59 UK, $114 AU) for a new cartridge that can print 2,400 pages. (The street price is closer to $73, which is still pricey.) That factors to about 3.5 cents per page of black text. That's decent price compared to inkjet printers, but it's a lot more than the Brother HL-2360DW, which only costs 1.9 cents per page.

Both of them have similar quality prints, and while the Canon's engine did register slightly faster results, I'm willing to bet that the fraction of a difference in output speed won't matter to you as much as decreasing your long term investment on consumables.

Better alternatives await

Until Canon lowers the price of toner refills, the Brother HL-2360DW remains our top pick for single-function black laser printers. On the other hand, if you're looking for an alternative and want to stay in the Brother family of mono laser printers, you have the option of choosing three additional models in the same price range.

In fact, for less than the price of the Canon, the Brother DCP-L2540DW beefs up the features with a flatbed scanner, copier, an auto-document feeder (ADF) for scanning batches, an auto-duplexer that saves money by flipping the page over and printing on the other side -- and support for Apple's AirPrint, too. As long as you don't mind the extra bulk, it looks like a worthy option for high volume multitasking, with lower ink prices to boot.

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6.3

Canon imageCLASS LBP151dw

Score Breakdown

Value 5Features 7Performance 7Design 6