/> ED I T O R S C H O I C E IN N O V A T IO N A W A R D
X

CNET editors pick the products and services we write about. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.

Dell 1320c Color Laser Printer review: Dell 1320c Color Laser Printer

The Dell 1320c is a low-cost, color laser printer geared for small businesses or work groups. The $300 USB-only printer is slower than its competition with black prints but picks up the slack on color prints. Though not without its faults, the print quality is sufficient for most business uses. If you print a ton of black text documents, you're better off with the $400 Lexmark C500n, and if you want a better balance of print speeds between color and black, try the $400 Oki C3400n. The Oki's print quality is a bit better than the Dell's, too.

6.7

Dell 1320c Color Laser Printer

The Good

Inexpensive; fast color prints; great text print quality; single-sheet manual feed slot.

The Bad

Slow black prints; black prints need to be darker; color graphics printing could use some improvement; memory and paper input are not expandable; no auto-duplexer.

The Bottom Line

The Dell 1320c is a decent choice for a small office or work group, but a little more cash will net you a faster printer with better print quality.

Design
The Dell 1320c's design is basic and straightforward, befitting its small-office role. The dark gray printer sits 15.6 inches wide, 16.6 inches deep, and 14.8 inches tall, and weighs a bit less than 40 pounds. The control panel is limited to two buttons (cancel and continue) and a graphic representation of the printer with LEDs that light up to indicate where a problem is occurring. For example, the paper tray area icon lights up when the tray is open, and the four toner icons light up if toner is running low--useful since the printer lacks a text LCD.

The main paper tray holds 250 sheets of regular paper, and a single-sheet manual feed slot resides on the front of the paper tray. The input capacity is not expandable on this model. The top-mounted output bin holds up to 150 sheets.

The four toner cartridges are hidden behind a panel on the right side of the printer. The cartridges for this unit are small and lightweight. Pulling them out, however, causes toner to dust your desktop--you've been forewarned. Each cartridge comes in two capacities: 1,000 prints and 2,000 prints. The small black costs $45, and the small color cartridges cost $59 each. The larger versions of each cost $60 and $79, respectively. Using the larger cartridges for best value, we calculate that a black-only print costs about 3 cents and a full color page costs about 15 cents. Both costs are reasonable, though slightly higher than those for the Oki C5500n. The monthly duty cycle is 35,000 prints.

Features
The Dell 1320c has the basic features you'd expect from a basic color laser printer. The base model connects via USB only, but you can add on a network adapter for $50. It ships with a 333MHz processor and 64MB of nonexpandable memory. There's no duplexer unit available for the 1320c, but the printer's driver will assist you with a manual duplex print job. Likewise, the driver can help you shrink or enlarge a print, create a poster or booklet print, and make N-up prints.

Performance
Compared to its similarly priced competition, the Dell 1320c is a bit slow with black prints, but faster with color. It printed black text at a rate of 12.11ppm, slower than the Samsung CLP-300N, the Oki C3400n, and the Lexmark C500n. With black graphics, it fell well behind both the Lexmark and the Oki, but was much faster than the Samsung. The Dell was the fastest of the bunch at color prints, just edging out the Oki and was the second fastest at color graphics, falling behind the Oki.

CNET Labs' color laser speed tests (pages per minute)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Color graphics  
Color text  
Black graphics  
Black text  
Lexmark C500n
6.43 
6.88 
19.80 
19.86 
Oki C3400n
11.92 
8.38 
16.01 
15.55 
Samsung CLP-300
3.71 
3.77 
3.68 
13.49 
Dell 1320c
9.94 
8.79 
13.11 
12.11 

The Dell's print quality was more than serviceable for a small office or work group. The black text print showed excellent quality, though the text leaned more toward dark gray than a true black. The color text could be improved with better color blending. The black graphics print looked faded (again, more dark gray than black), and the photo elements need to be sharpened up. The color graphics print showed the most problems. We saw banding in color and grayscale gradients, and the colors were too ruddy while the blacks weren't dark enough. We also noticed that the Dell had problems handling barcode patterns. On the other hand, the photo elements showed good detail, and color blocks were nicely saturated. Overall, the Dell 1320c's print quality is good enough for normal office use, but it's not the best choice if you value speedy black prints.

CNET Labs' color laser quality
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Color graphics  
Color text  
Black graphics  
Black text  
Lexmark C500n
Good 
Good 
Excellent 
Excellent 
Oki C3400n
Fair 
Good 
Good 
Excellent 
Dell 1320c
Fair 
Good 
Good 
Excellent 
Samsung CLP-300
Fair 
Good 
Fair 
Good 

Service and support
Dell backs the 1320c with a standard one-year warranty, though you can pay to extend the warranty to up to five years. Dell provides 24-7, toll-free phone support. The company's Web site provides drivers and downloads, FAQs, manuals, as well as user forums.

6.7

Dell 1320c Color Laser Printer

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 6Performance 7Support 8