capsule review

Dell P703w

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At a Glance
  • Dell P703W

Dell's P703w color inkjet multifunction is designed for home users who want a little bit of everything. Unfortunately, the P703w errs too much on the little side: it's slow; its print quality is uneven; and its ink cost for text is exorbitant.

The P703w covers the casual user's basic needs. Installation is a cinch because of Dell's well-designed Setup Guide; driver installation is almost completely automated. The black and multicolor ink cartridges lock quickly into place. You can connect to your network via USB (the cable is included) or wireless. Two slots support SD/MS/xD, MMC, and CF digital media; the device also has a PictBridge port.

The control panel's intuitive design features a 3-inch, adjustable color LCD with large, compass-style navigation buttons. Help files covering several common troubleshooting and maintenance tasks are accessible from the main menu. Initially I couldn't figure out whether to use the Start button or the checkmark button to execute a function, but in every case directions on the LCD told me which one to press.

The P703w's paper handling is both skimpy and awkward. The nonremovable main tray holds a mere 100 sheets of plain paper, and the output tray maxes out at 50. The secondary tray holds up to 20 sheets of 5-inch-by-7-inch photo paper. Once you load the photo tray, you have to push the tray several inches into the printer until it locks into place. If you don't, the printer will default to the main paper tray or tell you that it's out of paper.

The P703w labored to produce text speeds of 6.3 ppm and graphics speeds of 2.1 ppm on our performance tests. That's well below average, and not even close to Dell's specified rates of 31 ppm for text and 26 ppm for graphics. On plain paper, black text looked nice, but photos were dull and muddy. Printing on Dell's own photo paper removed these problems--obviously, at a greater cost.

Ink costs are another problem. The P703w ships with standard-size cartridges: a 338-page black (K) and 375-page, five-color cartridge. Replacements cost $18 or a whopping 5.3 cents per page for black, and $23 or a more reasonable 11.5 cents per page for color. The multicolor ink cartridge includes cyan, magenta, yellow, and photo-black inks as well as a clear protective coating.

The Dell P703w covers the basics but not much more. It is too slow, and its black ink too expensive, for us to recommend it.

--Susan Silvius

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At a Glance
  • Sluggish and allergic to plain paper, the P703w simply can't compete with like-priced models.


    • Easy to set up, very good text quality


    • Very slow
    • Graphics suffer on plain paper
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