Dell printers can induce a feeling of déjà vu. This is largely due to the fact that Dell doesn't produce its own models, but rather gets other companies to make printers for it based on their existing designs.
It's obvious that Dell's 1135n monochrome, multifunction, networked laser printer is based on Samsung's SCX-4623F; yet, at around £167, it's £50 more expensive than Samsung's similar model.
DesignFor a multifunction printer the 1135n has a relatively small footprint at 416x415mm. It does, however, flare outwards at the top to house the flat-bed scanner and the automatic document feeder that sits above it. Like most printers aimed at home office users, it has a matte black design with glossy highlights.
The top lip of the printer houses the control panel, which includes a basic two-line, 16-character monochrome LCD display, along with dedicated buttons for the fax, copying and scanning functions. There's also a numerical keypad for entering fax numbers. Unfortunately there are no quick dial buttons, but there is a phone book function where you can store up to 200 fax numbers for fairly quick recall.
The menus are very basic, as you would expect on a machine that has such a tiny display, but they're pretty quick to navigate around using the four-way direction pad, partly because they don’t run very deep.
At the bottom of the 1135n there's a slot-in paper tray that holds up to 250 sheets of paper. Above this there's a slot for feeding in single sheets of paper, which will mainly be used for printing envelops and the like. All the printed materials get fed into a tray that's formed from a cut-out in the belly of the printer. It's a neat and tidy set up, as you're not left with big protruding trays that would increase its footprint.
The automatic document feeder sits above the flat-bed scanner and can be used to copy or fax multi-page documents of up to 40 sheets in size. This is something that you'll really appreciate if you often have to fax documents, as you can simply load the sheets and go off and do something else while it faxes multiple pages automatically.
The 1135n uses a single cartridge that includes both the toner well and the image drum, so you only have one consumable to worry about. This slots into the belly of the machine once you've pulled down the front cover and is very easy to install or remove. Once it's installed in the printer, you just load up the drivers from the CD-ROM on your PC and you're ready to start printing.
The printer can be connected either locally via USB, or alternatively you can hook it up to your network via its Ethernet port -- the installation software makes using either option very straightforward.
Speed, quality and cost
The scanner produces good quality scans, capturing more than acceptable levels of detail and good, natural-looking colours. The photocopy function is fairly speedy too, as the 1135n took just 12 seconds to copy a black and white page. The copies didn’t look all that hot, though, as pictures and shading tended to lose a lot of detail.
It was pretty speedy when it came to printing. It produced our 10-page black and white text document in 49 seconds, and took 36 seconds to print 10 copies of our graphics test document. Our 10-page business presentation, meanwhile, took a mere 37 seconds to appear.
Print results were, on the whole, very good. Text looked excellent, thanks to the almost total absence of stray toner and the crisp, clean characters that were produced. Graphics results were also strong, as it managed to reproduce the fine shading in the picture of our test document. Although there was some slight banding in large fills on our presentation, the overall quality was still very good.
The high-capacity toner cartridge for the 1135n costs £73.20, which means that a printed page works out at 3.6p when you include 0.7p for paper costs. That's more expensive than most similarly priced rivals, so this model is not going to be very economical to run over the long term.
The 1135n is a very capable multifunction machine. It offers a broad range of features, produces good quality results and is fairly speedy too. Yet it's difficult to understand why anyone would choose this model when the Samsung model costs around £50 less and makes use of cheaper consumables.