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Dell 1600n

At a Glance
  • Dell Multifunction Laser Printer 1600n

Dell 1600n
Photograph: Rick Rizner

Dell's Multifunction Laser Printer 1600n is a networked printer, copier, flatbed scanner, and fax, yet it has the lowest price of the laser MFPs we tested this month--just $399. Considering its low price, the 1600n impressed us with its performance on all functions except graphics printing.

The 1600n is more compact than most laser MFPs. The busy front panel on the simple black and silver case has buttons for most common functions (and even some uncommon ones), divided into sections. The copy section includes controls for selecting the quality, contrast, and size of your reproductions. An extensive fax section has buttons that open a phone book, set the resolution, start a broadcast fax, or initiate a redial. The device can send color faxes, too (but it cannot receive them).

Text speeds were slightly faster than average for a laser MFP, at 15.9 ppm. The 1600n printed dark, sharp text, similar to most of the laser MFPs we tested; in our line art test, it printed clean parallel lines, earning a score of Very Good.

Grayscale graphics printed at a poky 2.4 ppm, however, slower than every other laser MFP in our tests. All of that waiting isn't rewarded, either. Grayscale graphics looked too light and faded, with some banding and fuzzy detail.

Once you scan a document, you can choose to save it as a file, to e-mail, to Paper Port optical character recognition software, or as an image. Color scans received a score of Fair, the lowest score we awarded to a laser MFP this month for scan quality. The 1600n tied with the $1596 IBM Infoprint 1410 for fastest scan time, however, finishing a 4-by-5-inch photo at 100 dpi in just 18 seconds. Copy speeds were also fairly fast at 5.7 ppm for a text document; copies of a grayscale photograph, though, looked too dark, with insufficient detail. Its copy of our text document earned a score of Good, while all of the other laser MFPs we tested received a Very Good mark on that test.

An optional 250-sheet paper tray, which costs a reasonable $100, boosts the total paper capacity to 500 sheets. The 1600n comes standard with 32MB of memory and can be expanded to a maximum of 160MB. Dell includes a complete and well-written printed manual.

Small workgroups that print primarily text would benefit most from this economically priced MFP, as long as high-quality copies and scans aren't required and graphics printing is occasional.

Lisa Cekan

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At a Glance
  • Dell Multifunction Laser Printer 1600n

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