The Dell 1250c is a suitable match for individuals hunting for a single-function laser printer that can output black and color documents in a light-duty printing environment. Its $150 retail price puts it in the same price category as all-in-one multifunction inkjet printers that can fax, copy, and scan along with printing, but if you can't stand waiting for ink to dry, and don't mind a slight drop-off in image print quality, the Dell 1250c's quick output and crisp laser text and graphics earn our endorsement.
Design and features
The Dell 1250c blends into the background of any professional atmosphere with a dark black exterior and an exceptionally small footprint (15.5 inches wide, 11.80 inches deep, 8.9 inches tall) that saves space on your desktop with a fold-down paper output tray and a top-mounted control panel that sits flush on top of the unit. Depending on how you have the printer positioned on your desk, you might not be able to see the indicator LEDs light up unless you physically get out of your seat to look down on it.
Regardless, there isn't much to speak of in terms of button controls. You get a button to feed paper into the printer and another to cancel a print job in progress, along with four LED lights that roughly estimate the level of laser toner you have left in the color cartridge, as well as a line drawing of where the cartridges fit into the right side panel. Overall the controls are intuitive to navigate, and with no wireless networking installed in the 1250c, the printer is simple to operate, even for the most amateur technophobe.
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 allow the user to adjust for standard legal paper as well as alternative media sources like coated paper, envelopes, and labels. Unlike other work-centric laser printers the Dell offers no manual bypass feeder that some find useful for loading transparencies or labels.
Most laser printers have a door on top of the device that pops open to reveal the toner bay, but the 1250c moves the access door to the right side, so be sure to take note of this to prevent obstructions in your workspace. The 1250c's versatility extends to color prints as well as black, so the access door opens to reveal one black and three color toner cartridges for cyan, magenta, and yellow.
Each cartridge yields 700 pages, factoring out to 7.1 cents per black page and 7.8 cents per page of color, according to Dell's online store. These prices fall within the average cost of consumables for an office-worthy printer, and Dell also sells high-capacity toner cartridges at a discount--$70 for more than double the page yield maximum of the standards.
The printer is simple to set up, but make sure you hold onto the disk that comes in the box, as it has the drivers and installation files necessary to connect it to a PC. The installation files are meant for PC users, but the printer also works with the Mac operating system 10.3.9 or later, and you should be able to find the model number in the list embedded in the Mac Print Center. If you were wondering why the price is low compared to other color lasers, the reason is because you can only connect to one computer at a time through the single USB port on the rear of the device--other laser printers like the upgraded Dell 1350cnw can connect to a 10/100 Ethernet network or through a wireless connection to support multiple users in an office, but it also costs double the price of the 1250c.