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Dell Workgroup Laser Printer W5300n

At a Glance
  • Dell Workgroup Laser Printer W5300n

Dell Workgroup Laser Printer W5300n
Photograph: Rick Rizner

Dell's Workgroup Laser Printer W5300n offers a long list of optional accessories to fit any size of workgroup, and its text-printing speed was pretty good. But its print quality was inferior, and its design showed inattention to detail. For the $999 price, I expected more.

The well-equipped W5300n offers plenty of room to grow. Its hefty 80MB of standard RAM is upgradable to a maximum of 336MB. Busy offices can take advantage of the printer's 225,000-page monthly duty cycle. An 18,000-page toner cartridge comes with the printer, and a 27,000-page cartridge is available, too; versions returnable to Dell for recycling are less expensive. You can augment the printer's 500-sheet standard paper drawer with up to four more 250-sheet or 500-sheet drawers. Duplexer and envelope-feeder options enhance the machine's media flexibility.

The W5300n falters on speed. It printed plain-text documents at 19 ppm--pretty good compared to the other workgroup lasers we tested, but far short of the vendor's claimed maximum of 45 ppm. Graphics and photos took even longer, at unimpressive speeds of 7.3 ppm and 3.1 ppm, respectively.

The printed pages' quality was disappointing. Text looked heavy, dark, and a little shiny. Magnification revealed wobbly edges and stray toner particles scattered around the letters. Graphics and photos displayed the same excessive darkness, as well as a grainy texture and severe moire patterns.

The printer's documentation and design can be confusing. The setup poster's small, faint line drawings were difficult to interpret. Illustrations in the other printed and CD-based manuals looked better, and the content was fairly thorough. A few small parts, such as the fuser-area door and the output tray's paper support, aren't documented at all, however.

The undocumented paper-tray support consists of a foldout flap that keeps longer pages from falling over the front of the printer. If curiosity hadn't driven me to play with the flap, I might never have discovered what lurks underneath it: a diagram explaining all of the control-panel buttons. And if you don't have your documentation handy, you may wonder why the Menu button is also a navigation button. The difference between the "Select" and "Go" buttons is hard to deduce, too.

Most users will interact more with the paper drawers and the toner cartridge than with any other parts of the printer, and the W5300n's are hard to use. The size guides inside the paper drawer (which can accommodate letter- or legal-size sheets) are unintuitively designed; explanatory diagrams inside the tray are too small and dim to be useful; and the illustrations in the setup poster and other manuals can be misleading. Similarly, removing or inserting the toner cartridge requires an awkward motion; the cartridge itself offers minimal guidance; and neither the setup poster nor the other documentation illustrates the process clearly.

The W5300n's the paper capacity and media-handling options can satisfy a demanding office, but only if the workplace's primary output is plain-text documents; this printer's graphics speed and quality fall short.

Dell Workgroup Laser Printer W5300n

Rated 45 ppm. Performed at 19.0 text/7.3 ppm graphics, 1200-by-1200-dpi maximum black-and-white resolution, 600 pages input, 250 output.

Melissa Riofrio

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At a Glance
  • Dell Workgroup Laser Printer W5300n

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