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Dell 1130n review: Dell 1130n

Dell 1130n

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Justin Yu
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Justin Yu

Associate Editor / Reviews - Printers and peripherals

Justin Yu covered headphones and peripherals for CNET.

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5 min read

The Dell 1130n delivers the basic features we'd expect from a budget monochrome laser printer; it includes wired networking through the Ethernet port on the back, an ample 250-sheet paper tray, and a separate one-sheet manual feed tray for irregular media. We wouldn't think twice about recommending getting the 1130n if you see it on sale, but its simple design and modest functionality don't justify its $180 retail value. If you're on the hunt for a new laser printer, we'd instead point to the Samsung ML-2525W, an aesthetically similar device with the added benefit of Wi-Fi access.

Dell 1130n
6.1

Dell 1130n

The Good

The <b>Dell 1130n's</b> low-profile design, basic setup procedure, and decent output results make it a strong contender to be your next light-duty office printer.

The Bad

The 1130n's graphical output quality needs improvement, and it doesn't include Wi-Fi connectivity.

The Bottom Line

Although it performed adequately in our print speed tests, this basic monochrome laser printer is outgunned by competitive devices with wireless networking for the same price.

Design and features
The 1130n measures only 14.2 inches wide, 15.3 inches deep, and 7.8 inches tall, and its slim dimensions make it easy to camouflage in a busy work space. As with many laser printers, Dell uses a conservative black for the same reason, with a curved paper path that places the output tray on top of the small, rectangular unit. Conversely, the input tray pulls out of the lower half of the front and can hold up to 250 sheets of standard 8.5x11-inch paper. Dell also tells us the printer can handle approximately 12,000 pages per month (also called the duty cycle), which should be more than enough for up to a medium-size business. You can also load thicker media like cardstock and envelopes into the single-sheet manual feed slot that sits just above the main paper drawer.

We hesitate to call the top portion of the printer the "control panel," since you only get two buttons (power and cancel print job) and two error notification lights to work with. Considering the simplicity of a monolaser, you aren't likely to 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, and with no wireless networking installed in the 1130n, the printer is simple for even the most amateur technophobe to operate.

The setup is also painless thanks to the driver installation disc that comes with the printer. According to Dell, the 1130n 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 10.3 through 10.6. The onscreen instructions guide you through the 2-minute unboxing, physical setup, and software installation process using a USB cable, which you'll need to purchase separately since it doesn't come with one.

Folding down the front panel drawer uncovers two separate paper bays: one to hold 150 sheets of plain white paper, and a plastic lip on top that corrals outgoing sheets. The tray also features slides on either side that adjust to fit standard legal paper as well as alternative media sources like coated paper, envelopes, and labels. Unlike other business-oriented laser printers, however, there's no manual bypass feeder of the kind some find useful for loading transparencies or 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 for $63 on the Dell Web site that will supposedly print up to 1,500 sheets. That comes out to about 4.2 cents per page, which is just higher than the average cost for a plain sheet of black ink on both laser and inkjet printers. Alternatively, if you find yourself printing more than average, we recommend investing in the $88 extra-large-capacity toner with a 2,500-page yield that comes out to 3.5 cents per page.

Dell keeps the retail cost of the 1130n low by leaving out two features: autoduplexing (double-sided printing) and the ability to print over a Wi-Fi network. Employees in an office can still link multiple stations to the 1130n using the Ethernet networking port on the back, but we're troubled by the choice to omit Wi-Fi at this price, when the Samsung ML-2525W and the Brother HL-2270DW both include wireless connectivity for $150.

Performance
The 1130n trails the competition slightly in our monochrome text throughput test, but you likely won't notice a speed difference unless you're consistently printing over 20 pages at a time. While Dell can't match the Oki B431dn's impressive 33.86 pages per minute (PPM) text-speed scores, it was still able to exceed the speed of the Lexmark E460dw in three out of the four tests.

Printer performance (in pages per minute)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Presentation   
Black graphics  
Black text  
Oki B431dn
38.16 
33.3 
33.86 
Samsung ML-2525W
20 
20.19 
18.82 
Brother HL-2270DW
18.15 
19.03 
18.64 
Lexmark E460dw
9.96 
25.99 
17.61 
Dell 1130n
17.05 
18.12 
17.37 

The Dell 1130n performed well, but not exceptionally, in the output quality assessment portion of our tests. As expected, it produced a beautiful page of black text with solid lines and clean edges with uniform character spacing and fully formed figures down to an unreadable font, but the printer failed to deliver similar results with a page of graphics. While we still don't doubt its ability to create handouts and presentation documents for the boardroom, we did notice malformed gradations and inconsistency in the finer lines. The same goes for snapshot photos, although we'll assume you aren't buying a monolaser printer to enrich your career as a photographer.

Service and support
The standard warranty for the Dell 1130n 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 has product-specific support in the form of online user guides, driver and software downloads, and a troubleshooting tool.

Conclusion
The Dell 1130n monochrome laser printer serves up acceptable quality for home offices and small business, with consistent performance, simple setup, and Ethernet networking, but if you're looking for a bargain or care about a Wi-Fi connection option, we recommend the Samsung ML-2525W instead.

Dell 1130n
6.1

Dell 1130n

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 6Performance 6Support 7