Review: Dell B1265dfw is a decent monochrome laser MFP with pricey toner

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At a Glance
  • Dell B1265dfw

Thinking of the $280 Dell B1265dfw as a monochrome laser printer with benefits puts it in its best light. Besides good print speed, it offers copying, faxing, and scanning in color. There's even an automatic document feeder (ADF), though the duplex scanning features are restricted to the flatbed portion of the scanning system and are manual only. The B1265dfw also suffers particularly pricey toner--well over three cents per page even with the high-capacity supplies.

The B1265dfw is your standard medium-sized, boxy small-to-medium business MFP. It's solidly constructed, and though its standard warranty lasts just one year, a 3-year advance-replacement warranty is available for an additional $40.

Great connectivity, easy control panel

The B1265dfw is a triple treat connectivity-wise, with USB, Wi-Fi, and Ethernet on board. The software Installation is easy, and Dell has made an effort to simplify Wi-Fi setup, even providing a WPS button on the control panel. Said control panel is on the right front of the unit, flips up for easy access, and is intuitively laid out. There's a numeric keypad for faxing and a two-line monochrome display. It's rendered in off-white which helpfully focuses your attention on it from the otherwise charcoal colored unit. On the other hand, Dell made the embossed icons on the circular cursor control difficult to read by not differentiating their color. Go figure.

Paper handling features include automatic duplex printing; a 250-sheet bottom-mounted paper cassette; a front-loading, single-sheet auxiliary feed; a 151-sheet integrated output tray directly above that; and a 40-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF) for the scanning portion of the unit. The flatbed scanner is letter/A4-sized, and the lid telescopes slightly more than an inch to accommodate thicker materials.

Though the B1265dfw has an ADF, it's limited. While there's help (prompts on the LCD) for manual 1-sided to 2-sided, and 2-sided to 2-sided copying, it's only available when using the flatbed platen. This is not the MFP you want to buy if you regularly scan lengthy two-sided documents.

The B1265dfw’s speed is middling for a monochrome laser, but fast compared to other $300 multifunctions we’ve tested—most of which have been inkjets.Documents consisting of plain, black text with a few simple, monochrome graphics average a speedy 19.3 pages per minute (ppm) on the PC, and 15.3 ppm on the Mac. Snapshot-sized, 4--by-6-inch photos print at about 5.5 ppm.

The quality of the B1265dfw's text is excellent, which is expected for any monochrome laser printer. The graphics are mediocre at best, with horizontal striation and vertical banding becoming more noticeable as image size increases. Scans are quick, of good quality, and you may scan in color as well as monochrome. Copying is obviously limited to black and white and suffers the same faults as the other graphics.

High toner costs make it best for light use

The B1265dfw uses a single integrated drum/toner unit and ships with a 1,000-page starter-size cartridge. The replacements cost $57 for a 1,500-page cartridge, and $83 for a 2,500-page cartridge. That works out to 3.8 cents per page (cpp) with the former, and 3.3 cents per page with the latter. That's pricey for a monochrome laser no matter how cheap the initial unit cost.

You buy a monochrome laser for speed and great text. The B1265dfw delivers both, albeit not as cheaply as one would wish. If you do the math, the total cost of operation will probably work out for small-volume copying and printing. The question you should ask is whether you might not be better off with a full-featured, $300 color inkjet MFP like the Epson WorkForce Pro WP-4540, which provides decent speed and impressive print quality, with far superior graphics and a significantly cheaper cost per page.

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At a Glance
  • Pros

    • Good speed
    • Good color scanning


    • No duplex scanning support for the ADF
    • Pricey toner
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