There aren't many multi-function, black-and-white laser printers available at a bargain price. This means the Dell 1133 hasn't got much competition, and is a good purchase for punters on a budget. It's available now for around £165.
Big black box
The 1133 looks quite chic for a category of product that's normally aesthetically drab. It's practical and functional, but sports a deep black finish and a pleasing texture.
The 250-page input tray sits near the bottom of the unit, and the 80-page output tray resides near the top. The lid has a bulbous shape to accommodate the scanner. Below the scanner lid sits an array of controls, including a comprehensive LCD display, and a four-way navigation pad with a return button in the middle. We found this a cinch to use, thanks to the well-laid-out menu system.
Don't use that toner with me
To cut costs, Dell hasn't included a USB cable, and there's no automatic document feeder or auto-duplexing feature. There's no network connectivity either, which is a vexing omission in a printer designed for small businesses.
Opening up the lid is simple enough if you need to fix a paper jam, although we never had this problem. Doing so reveals an easily accessible combined toner and drum cartridge. Dell bundles only a 700-page cartridge, which is tight in a printer designed for heavy workloads.
At least the company offers a higher-capacity toner cartridge for around £74, though. This should print 2,500 pages at an operating cost of just under 3p per page. If you want to keep your running costs down, you should definitely buy the higher-capacity cartridge, especially if you intend to give this machine a serious workout.
Actually, this printer is more likely to give you a serious workout, as it's a beast to carry. At over 10kg, you'll need a couple of slaves to move it if you don't want to break your back. Fortunately, it feels very robust, so it shouldn't break if you knock it around.
Children of the resolution
The print engine has a 600x600 dpi resolution by default, but you can bump it up to 1,200x1,200 dpi. It also has a claimed print speed of 22 pages per minute. We set the 1133 up to run as quickly as possible, using a one-page text document in draft mode, and we managed 19.1ppm. Well done, Dell, for not making extravagant print-speed claims.
But, as soon as we ran harder print jobs, like a ten-page mix of text and graphics, the speed dropped off noticeably, falling to 16.5ppm. This dropped even further, to 12.1ppm, when we upped the resolution to 1,200x1,200 dpi.
Raising the resolution made little difference to the quality of printed text. But that's not to say that the quality of text at a 600x600 dpi resolution is bad. We didn't see any ghosting issues -- just sharply delineated text with a deep finish.
The 1133 showed slight banding on graphics and photos at 600x600 dpi, as well as lacking decent contrast. Tweaking the settings in the good driver facility and raising the resolution to 1,200x1,200 dpi resolved these issues, though. That makes the 1133 a good choice for most business requirements.
Scanning proved speedy, but the results weren't exceptional. They're serviceable for day-to-day business jobs but no match for the output of a dedicated scanner.
Dell's 1133 delivers good-quality prints at a fair, but not really fast, pace. It scans perfectly well for business applications, but its performance in this regard isn't exceptional. Add it all together, and factor in the bargain price and running costs, and it becomes a good buy. The only problem is that it's a rebadged version of Samsung's SCX-4600, which is cheaper to run and buy, at around £100.
Edited by Charles Kloet