Dell 1355cnw Color MFP: Wireless Is a Plus, Pricey Toner Is a Problem
At a Glance
Dell 2145CN Multifunction Printer
Best suited for small, low-volume offices, this multifunction printer offers versatile connectivity, but provides limited features and uses expensive toner.
The Dell 1355cnw color multifunction printer will appeal to small offices, as it combines print, copy, scan, and fax capabilities in an inexpensive ($420 as of March 1, 2011) package. It has wireless networking for good measure. Using an LED array to create images rather than the more widely known laser technology, it produces good output, too. As is the case with many low-cost MFPs, unfortunately, replacement toner is expensive, and features are somewhat limited. It's a better choice in this price range than the HP LaserJet Pro CM1415fnw color MFP, which produces inferior color images at a slower pace.
Setting up the 1355cnw was easy via USB and ethernet. Wireless setup requires attaching the unit via USB, which is not unusual, but its handling of IP addresses made us pause. The 1355cnw supports both the current IP address standard (IPv4) and the upcoming IPv6. However, instead of creating one Windows printer device with both and IPv6 and IPv4 addresses, the install created two printer devices: one with an IPv6 address, and another with an IPv4 address. We knew what to do (eliminate the IPv6 dual-stack option), but most users will need more help than the documentation provides.
The control panel is straightforward for a multifunction device, with a numeric keypad and buttons to summon each primary function. The four-line monochrome LCD lets you view menu options, which you navigate using standard four-way controls.
While the 1355cnw has a solid-looking chassis and a 30,000-page duty cycle, the paper-handling features are minimal. A measly 150-sheet main input tray sticks out from the front of the unit--a vulnerable position, although it does ease paper loading somewhat. A plastic piece that acts as a partial cover for the main input tray is also the 10-sheet multipurpose feeder; you must remove it to adjust the guides. The pull-out output arm is a mere 3 inches wide and can't hold a lot of paper, but it makes grabbing what comes out easy. You also get a 50-sheet automatic document feeder for the 1355cnw's letter-size scanner. Duplexing (two-sided printing) is manual and available only on the PC platform.
The 1355cnw posted middling speeds in our tests: 11.1 pages per minute printing plain text on both the PC and the Mac, and about 1.4 ppm printing medium-size photos at default or finer settings. On the Mac, a full-page, high-resolution photo printed at 0.9 ppm. A simple one-page text copy took about 20 seconds, while full-page color photo scans took 55 seconds. In anecdotal testing, the ADF seemed slow at feeding multipage documents, especially when we used the bundled OCR program to create editable PDFs or text documents.
Output from the 1355cnw is generally good. Monochrome-text prints and copies are superior, with clean edges. Printed photos had a pinkish cast and some overall graininess. Color copies showed the same pink tendency but were mostly crisp. Scanned photos, while on the dark side, were nicely detailed. In contrast, the Brother MFC-9320CW struggled more with graphics.
Though the 1355cnw's toner cartridges are easy to access and replace via a side door, they're budget-busters. Forget the standard-size, 700-page cartridges: Black costs $39 (or 5.5 cents per page), while each color costs $50 (or 7.1 cents per color). A four-color page would cost 27 cents. The higher-yield supplies, each $70, are tolerable: The cost for the 2000-page black cartridge works out to 3.5 cents per page, and that of the 1400-page cyan, magenta, and yellow comes to 5 cents per color, making a total of 18.5 cents for a four-color page.
Like other color multifunction printers in its price range, the Dell 1355cnw presents a series of trade-offs. Its output quality is better than that of most competitors, which might make an investment in its pricey replacement toner worthwhile.