capsule review

Dell 948 All-in-One Color Inkjet MFP

At a Glance
  • Dell 948 All-In-One Wireless Printer

    PCWorld Rating

    Automatic duplexing and an ADF distinguish this multifunction from most others in its price range.

The Dell 948 All-in-One is a color inkjet multifunction printer that offers good performance and features for a low price--as many others do. But this model has a few bonuses for higher-volume users.

At first glance, the boxy 948 AIO looks unremarkable. It has only a USB connection (Dell sells a $70, 802.11b/g adapter and a $30 Bluetooth adapter). Its 100-sheet input tray is small, although its 50-sheet, foldout output tray is sturdy. And it has the media slots for photo printing.

Two of its features, however, are rare in this price range: automatic duplexing and a 25-sheet automatic document feeder. Only the similarly designed Lexmark X6570 can boast the same. It can even scan a duplex document (with manual intervention) and print a duplex copy--nice for saving paper.

With some MFPs, you get lost in all the control-panel buttons; with the 948 AIO, there are so few that you could hardly go wrong. The two-line, monochrome LCD communicates all menu options in plain English. When it has to say something longer than a word or two, however, the slow scrolling of a line of text across the display will probably seem tedious. The panel can lie vertically flush with the machine or tilt to a set angle.

Dell's All-In-One Center application offers a tabbed interface for major functions, stepping you through processes and calling up the necessary application, such as ABBYY FineReader 6.0 Sprint for OCR or Corel Snapfire for photo editing. Get help by clicking a link in the interface or by going straight to the user guide, which is thorough and provided in both paper and HTML forms.

In our tests, text pages exited at a decent 7.6 pages per minute, but graphics pages crawled at 1.7 ppm. On plain paper, letters looked nicely black but a little fuzzy, as did graphics, which were also grainy and oversaturated. Dell's own photo paper improved the latter considerably: We noted milder oversaturation and reasonable detail. Ink costs vary: 4.3 cents for a half-page of plain text is a bit high, but 10.2 cents for a page with small amounts of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black is cheap. (Printing a full-color photo will use more ink.) Copy and scan samples we made were acceptable.

It's hard to distinguish yourself among a growing pack of competitors, but Dell's 948 AIO has a few special features that make it more useful than others in its price range. While other inkjet multifunctions we've tested are faster or flashier, the 948 AIO is still worth considering.

--Melissa Riofrio

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Automatic duplexing and an ADF distinguish this multifunction from most others in its price range.

    Pros

    • Low price; lots of software
    • Very easy to use; automatic duplexing

    Cons

    • Feathery text quality; pricey black ink
    • Slow graphics printing
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