The Dell 1815dn is an inexpensive monochrome laser multi-function printer that works equally well in a home office or in a small workgroup, provided you don't need colour prints or scans. At £283 direct from Dell, the 1815dn is quite a deal, considering it prints, scans, faxes and copies, comes with a built-in duplexer, is network-ready, and prints black text at nearly 18 pages per minute. It even has a built-in USB port for scanning to or printing from a USB flash drive.
The printer supports Windows, Macs and Unix machines, so no one on your team needs to be left out. The Dell 1815dn is strictly a work-oriented machine, but with its many options and the low cost of its consumables, it's a good choice for home offices.
The Dell 1815dn is reasonably compact for a machine that does so much (450mm wide by 438mm deep by 457mm high), and at 17.5kg with its standard 250-sheet paper tray, it's not too heavy to move around, especially since the body has two deep handgrips on either side. The printer and the scanner lid feel sturdy and well constructed. The hinges of the lid lift out to accommodate bulky books for photocopying or scanning.
The automatic document feeder (ADF) mounted on the scanner lid accommodates up to 50 pages for batch scanning, copying or faxing and has adjustable paper guides. It also acts as an automatic duplexer, which allows for automatic double-sided printing and copying -- a boon to anyone trying to save both money and the environment. The back of the machine is where you'll find the power switch and the connectors: USB 2.0 for directly attaching to a PC and an Ethernet port for sharing the printer on a network.
On the forehead of the 1815dn is the control panel and a two-line text LCD. A full numeric keypad allows you to dial a fax number or key in the number of copies you want. The LCD shows the printer's menus, and dedicated forward and back keys allow you to drill down and up through the menus. A check button confirms the selection on the display, a return button takes you back to the last menu you saw, which saves you from having to drill up interminably, and an X button takes you straight back to the main menu. The menus are intuitive and easy to navigate, despite the limited buttons.
Below the printer's control panel is a gap that serves as the output tray. Since the output tray is contained within the body of the printer, there's no annoying wing-like appendage hanging off the printer. While the output tray can easily hold paper sizes up to A4, it has a small flap that folds out to ensure that your longer printed material doesn't go sailing to the floor. The one downside to this design is that you can't expand the output capacity -- it maxes out at 150 sheets. The 1815dn comes with a 250-sheet paper tray that can accommodate multiple paper sizes, and you can expand its input capacity with an optional 250-sheet tray, for a total input of 550 sheets (including the ADF).