Dell doesn't have its own printer technology, but instead gets other companies to build printers for it based on their existing designs. The multi-function P713w colour inkjet printer looks quite similar to Lexmark's Interact S605, and both printers use the same technology. But the Dell model has a paper tray at the bottom and is about £40 more expensive at current prices.
The P713w is a pretty funky-looking printer for a multi-function model. We like the contrast between the glossy black lid and the white front and sides. The angled control panel at the front also includes a gorgeous colour touchscreen display, so this printer will look the business sat on your desk. That said, it does take up a fair amount of room, with a footprint of 486 by 429mm.
The bottom of the printer is home to a plug-in paper feeder that holds up to 250 sheets. That's a good capacity for a model in this price range. Unfortunately, there's no dedicated photo paper compartment, so you have to remove your A4 sheets when you want to print some glossy snaps.
All printed material gets fed into the output tray, which is really just part of the cover for the input tray. It's a fairly straightforward design that works reasonably well.
The P713w is one of the easiest printers we've encountered when it comes to setting it up. This is mainly because you're guided through the whole set-up process via animated graphics shown on the printer's own screen.
The P713w supports Wi-Fi and Ethernet connections, as well as USB, and you can set it up on your Wi-Fi network directly via the touchscreen display.
The touchscreen uses capacitive technology, like the iPhone, so it's very responsive, even when you just press it lightly. It's also excellent for choosing the photos you want to print when you connect up a camera to the front-mounted USB port or plug a card into the memory-card reader. Memory Stick, xD, SD and MMC cards are all supported, but there's sadly no CompactFlash slot.
This model also lacks the SmartSolutions system that you get on the Lexmark Interact S605. This system allows you to load extra apps from Lexmark's website for print macros and extra features like RSS news readers, so you can view headlines on the display. Sadly, it's completely absent here.
Scanner and cartridge costs
The top of the printer is home to a flat-bed scanner. The scan quality is generally pretty good. Colours are accurately reproduced and detail is among the sharpest we've seen from a multi-function model. The P713w isn't the fastest machine around when it comes to photocopying, though. It took 27 seconds to copy our black and white test page, whereas most inkjet models manage this in around 20 seconds.
When it comes to inks, there are two cartridges: a black one and a colour one that contains the three ink colours. Separate colour cartridges are always better. If you run out of one colour with the P713w, you'll have to replace the whole cartridge.
Unfortunately, high ink prices mean that the cost for a black and white page is a quite expensive 5.7p, which is all the more odd since a colour page works out at a reasonable 7.5p. Both of these figures include 0.7p for paper costs.
Print speed and quality
Print speeds are fairly rapid for machine in this class. It pumped out our ten-page black and white text document in 1 minute and 29 seconds. This model also supports two-sided, duplex printing, and managed to print five double-sided pages of text in 2 minutes and 46 seconds.
Ten pages of our colour graphics test took 4 minutes and 1 second to appear, and the printer managed to produce our ten-page colour business presentation in 3 minutes and 25 seconds. When it came to photo printing, the P713w took just 45 seconds to produce a 4- by 6-inch print.
Print quality is generally very good. Text is quite clean with only minor speckles around the edges of letters here and there. In our graphics and presentation tests, colours were impressively vivid and detail in images was well reproduced. Photo print quality was also good, with detailed shading and rich, punchy colours.
There's much to like about the Dell P713w. The touchscreen display makes it easy to set up and control, it produces impressive prints, and it's very speedy. Unfortunately, the high cost of printing black and white pages is likely to put many people off.
Edited by Charles Kloet