Dell's 3330dn is a monochrome laser printer that's designed for those who aren't very patient when it comes to printing. It boasts among the fastest print speeds we've come across. But at around £350, it's expensive, and has a few annoying flaws.
One thing is certain -- the 3330dn isn't much to look at. Dell couldn't have come up with a more boring design if it tried. The 3330dn is essentially just a large cube with a matte black finish and a nondescript control panel on the top. The control panel includes a small, four-line monochrome display, as well as a four-way direction pad and numerical keypad.
The rear of the printer is home to USB and Ethernet ports, as well as an old-school parallel port, so it can be used with ageing print servers. The bottom of the chassis houses a pull-out feeder tray that takes up to 250 sheets of paper. That's not that much for this type of printer, but there's a 550-sheet optional add-on tray available for just over £100. As this printer is already on the pricey side, adding an extra £100 into the equation makes it seem expensive compared to its peers.
There's also a flip-down tray that's mainly designed to allow you to feed odd paper sizes and other materials, including envelopes, into the printer.
The 3330dn comes with the drum pre-installed. But before you can use the printer, you have to take the drum out, remove some plastic tapes and re-insert it again. Then it's simply a matter of loading the driver onto your computer from the supplied CD.
You can choose to either hook the printer up directly to your computer or connect it to your network via the Ethernet port. If you choose the latter option, you can manage the printer remotely via a Web interface, which is handy.
As with a number of business-focused printers we've seen, this one allows you to set up a PIN code for a document before you actually send it to the printer. When you hit 'Print', the printer will store the code in its memory until the correct pin is entered via the numerical keypad.
This is handy if you need to print sensitive information that you don't want other people in your office to see, such as salary figures or your Justin Bieber fan letter.
Print cost, speed and quality
The 3330dn ships with a standard drum, which is good for around 7,000 pages. Replacement drums will set you back about £40 each. That means a single page works out at around 1.27p, including 0.7p for paper costs. That's quite cheap, even by laser printer standards, so this will be an economical machine to run in the longer term.
It's super-speedy too when it comes to printing, pumping out 10 pages of our black and white text document in just 22 seconds. It took a mere 24 seconds to produce 10 copies of our black and white graphics test page.
While it took 1 minute 9 seconds to print our 10-page business presentation, that's mainly due to the fact that it only has 64MB of memory onboard and this is a graphic-intensive document. As a result, if you print many graphics-heavy documents, we'd recommend upgrading the memory to 256MB, which will set you back around £33.
This model supports duplex printing, which is speedy, taking 40 seconds to produce five double-sided pages of text.
The print quality is impressive for text too, as characters look dark and inky on the page, yet are very cleanly drawn. Graphics documents aren't quite as impressive, because pictures tended to look slightly too dark, losing some of the more subtle shadow detail that should have shone through. There was also some minor banding visible in grey fills.
The Dell 3330dn produces really great text documents and does so at an impressive pace. Its running costs are also very low for a machine in this price range. But it's only really worth the high asking price if you need to produce huge qualities of printed materials every month -- and, if you are one of these types of user, we think you'll find the 250-sheet paper tray rather limiting.