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The Dell 1720dn is a low-cost mono laser printer that provides fast, high-quality prints for small offices or work groups. For $300, you get a built-in duplexer and Ethernet networking, as well as low print costs. The $350 Samsung ML-3051ND offers the same print quality but faster text prints (and slightly slower graphics prints), a 50-sheet multipurpose tray, and a straight pass-through. If these extras are worth the $50, go for the Samsung. Otherwise, the Dell 1720dn is a great choice for its target audience. If duplex printing and networking aren't high priorities, the baseline $200 Dell 1720 is a good option for home offices.
The Dell 1720dn is a blocky, charcoal gray printer with no-nonsense, all-business looks. It stands 15.6 inches wide, 13.6 inches deep, and 10 inches tall, and weighs just more than 25 pounds. It ships with a 250-sheet paper tray, though you can expand the input capacity with an optional 550-sheet drawer. A slot just above the tray serves as the manual feed tray, in which you can feed single sheets of media. It has adjustable paper guides to facilitate feeding different sizes of paper. The 1720dn lacks a straight pass-through, which is great for thicker media that may be problematic for the printer's rollers. The Samsung ML-3051 has this feature. The printer's control panel is simple: just a continue button and a cancel button, as well as several LEDs to alert you to problems such as paper jams.
Dell offers both standard and high-capacity toners cartridges for the 1720 models and has a use-and-return program that offers a discount to users who return spent cartridges. The standard cartridge yields about 3,000 pages for $100 ($70 through use and return) and the high capacity version yields about twice that number for about $130 ($90 through use and return). Dell estimates that per-page costs are as low as 1.67 cents, which is excellent. The 1720 printers have a monthly duty cycle of about 25,000 pages, which makes it a good fit for a small to medium-size work group.
The Dell 1720 mono laser printer family offers two models: the base model costs $200, while the 1720dn (which we tested) costs $300. The 1720dn includes built-in networking via Ethernet and a built-in duplexer for automatic double-sided prints. Both models feature a 366MHz processor. The 1720 ships with 16MB of RAM, while the 1720dn ships with 32MB. Both are upgradeable to 144MB and 160MB, respectively. Both models also include USB and parallel connectors. Dell offers an optional wireless printer adapter for printing wireless over your network.
The Dell 1720dn kept pace with the competition. It produced black text pages at a rate of 13.46 pages per minute (ppm). The slightly less expensive Lexmark E250dn was a bit slower, and the slightly more expensive Samsung ML-3051ND was a bit faster. The Dell beat both the Lexmark and the Samsung at graphics prints, though, churning them out at a rate of 21.59ppm. It produced PowerPoint prints at a rate of 11.79ppm.
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The Dell 1720dn didn't disappoint with its print quality, either. Text was flawless, as it should be with mono laser printers. The mono graphics page was also sharp and detailed, though some cross-hatching marred the photo elements a bit. This flaw is not uncommon for laser printers, though. Overall, the print speeds and quality of the printer make it a great fit for small office or work group environments.
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Service and support
The standard warranty for the Dell 1720dn lasts one year, but you can upgrade it. Dell provides free, toll-free phone support 24-7, but it recommends trying the live online chat option first. For less urgent inquiries, you can e-mail Dell's 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. You can find basic tips on common how-tos, as well, such as how to change the toner cartridge.