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Dell Personal Laser Printer P1500 review: Dell Personal Laser Printer P1500

Dell Personal Laser Printer P1500

Dong Ngo SF Labs Manager, Editor / Reviews
CNET editor Dong Ngo has been involved with technology since 2000, starting with testing gadgets and writing code for CNET Labs' benchmarks. He now manages CNET San Francisco Labs, reviews 3D printers, networking/storage devices, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.
Dong Ngo
4 min read
Dell does printers? As of today, it does. The giant PC maker has stepped into the world of printers for the first time. The $289 P1500 is one of a trio of new Lexmark-manufactured, Dell-branded models, and our findings and CNET Labs' tests indicate that this fast, text-smart machine neither stands out nor disappoints. It gives you just about everything you need in a personal or home-office laser. If you plan to print lots of graphics, however, try the Minolta PagePro 1250E or the Brother HL-5040. Weighing 20 pounds in a 14.2-by-8.7-by-15-inch shell that's the same two-tone silver and black as Dell's flagship Inspiron notebooks, the P1500 looks typically Dell-like and is clearly designed for personal or small-office use.
On top of the machine sits the Dell logo, two control buttons, and five different LEDs that indicate printer status. These lights include indicators for readiness, ink status, paper-tray status, paper jams, and errors--all very useful for troubleshooting. The intake and output paper trays sit atop the machine, and both can retract to save space. The front of the printer also opens out and serves as a secondary, manual-feed output tray.

Standard control and LCD panel.

Connects via USB and parallel, comes without cables.

Thanks to the large, well-illustrated setup poster, you'll be ready to print in virtually no time at all; it took CNET Labs' testers a mere five minutes to plug in and install this machine. The printer connects to your computer via parallel or USB ports, but neither of these cables comes in the box (an increasingly common omission among printer vendors). Make sure to pick up one at your local store before setting up the machine; we recommend USB for speed and ease of use.
If you need more help or simply want to get to know the machine better, you can study Dell's detailed owner's manual, which has about 80 pages of easy-to-understand and useful instructions. The bad news: The P1500 works with only Windows 98 or later--no Macs for this Dell.

Connects via USB and parallel, comes without cables.
Like most other laser printers in the SOHO category, the P1500 generates black-and-white text at up to 600x600dpi. The input paper tray holds as many as 150 sheets of plain paper and supports transparencies, envelopes, card stock, and paper labels of different sizes up to A4 (regular letter). To accommodate heavier printing demands, Dell sells an additional, attachable intake tray that can take 250 sheets of plain paper. That's only half the business-class Xerox Phaser 4400N's paper capacity, but it's still plenty for personal use.
The printer supports both 3K and 6K toner-cartridge sizes, which cost $99 and $149, respectively. To save a little dough, you can also buy use-and-return toner cartridges, which cost $75 for the 3K and $115 for the 6K, provided you submit the depleted items to Dell for recycling purposes.
The printer is equipped with 16MB of RAM (upgradable to 64MB) and a 200MHz processor, which add buffer space and power for heavy print loads. The driver lets you set many different print qualities and carry out numerous functions, such as font, watermark, and overlay management. For example, you can control ink usage by choosing between 10 different levels for darkness, or you can use different effects such as Image Smoothing or Negative Page for graphics. There are also three different print styles, including Normal, Poster (for printing posers), and Booklet (for printing a special layout that can be easily bound into a book).

The P1500 neither impressed nor disappointed with its printing speeds. In our text-printing test, the printer turned out 12.9 pages per minute (ppm), slower than the Brother HL-5040's 13.5ppm but faster than the Minolta PagePro 1250E's 11.9ppm. With graphics-printing speeds, however, the P1500 managed a mere 8.0ppm, compared to the Minolta PagePro 1250E's 11.6ppm.
In terms of quality, the P1500 exhibited similar inconsistencies. CNET's printer jury found the Dell's text printouts to be solid and clear overall. Some text appeared broken at the smallest fonts, the italics sometimes looked jagged, and poor ink saturation made the docs seem somewhat light. But these problems were barely perceptible to the naked eye.
Text and graphic printouts, unfortunately, suffered from severe banding, inconsistent gradients, and jaggy shapes. With these problems, the P1500 earned only fair marks for graphics quality.
Laser printer speed (personal and workgroup)
Pages per minute (Longer bars indicate better performance)

Xerox Phaser 4400N
Brother HL-5040
Dell Personal P1500 laser printer
Minolta PagePro 1250E
Inkjet printer quality
Poor   ••Fair   •••Good   ••••Excellent
 Printer  Text  Graphics
 Brother HL-5040 ••• ••
 Dell Personal P1500 laser printer ••• ••
 Minolta PagePro 1250E •••• •••
 Xerox Phaser 4400N ••• •••
Dell backs the P1500 with a standard one-year warranty. During that time, if your printer turns out to be defective, the NBD Advanced Exchange service will send you a replacement printer by the next business day. Dell's generous free and toll-free technical support is available 24/7 for the life of the printer. At the time this review was written, Dell had not yet launched its printer-dedicated Web site and technical support, but these should be available by March 25, when the printer is available for purchase. Check back soon for our service-and-support assessment.

Dell Personal Laser Printer P1500

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Performance 7Support 6