Top 10 color laser multifunction printers

These efficient workhorses combine color laser printing, scanning, copying, and, frequently, faxing

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Dell Multifunction Color Laser Printer 3115cn
Multifunction Color Laser Printer 3115cn Review, by Melissa Riofrio February 4, 2008

Rating: 

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Maximum paper size, height: 14.0 inches; Maximum paper size, width: 8.5 inches

Pros:
Fast; very crisp text printing
Good standard paper handling and options

Cons:
Expensive; photos look oversaturated
Control panel sometimes confusing

Bottom Line: Speed and expandability are this model's forte, making up for its subpar photos and design quirks.

REVIEW:
The Dell Multifunction Color Laser Printer 3115cn is a little less expensive than the Xerox Phaser 6180MFP that it closely resembles (as well as the recently announced Lexmark X560n, which we haven't tested yet). But while the Dell delivers on speed and features, its design and print quality fall a bit short.

The 3115cn was overall the fastest unit we tested. It churned out text at a rate of 24.2 pages per minute (ppm)--only its near-twin, the Xerox Phaser 6180MFP, was faster at text--and it produced finely drawn letterforms. The 3115cn's speed of 5.4 ppm in printing graphics was the best of the models we tested in the current group. Unfortunately we can't say the same for its graphics quality, because its photos looked oversaturated and dark. Copy and scan quality were quite good overall.

Tall (nearly 29 inches with the scanner closed) and bulky, the 3115cn has a generous standard feature set and room to grow. Complementing the 250-sheet input tray and 150-sheet multipurpose tray is a 250-sheet output tray. Even the 50-sheet automatic document feeder is roomy. A 550-sheet optional input tray costs $229, while a duplex option is $199.

The plain control panel (typical for Dell) is not always easy to use. Navigation buttons move through menus displayed on the four-line monochrome LCD. The main menu list doesn't scroll through to the beginning; rather, you must back out the way you came. The messages displayed on the LCD often lack helpful prompts or read more like machine code than natural English. The documentation can be vague on how to adjust menu settings, too.

The front of the printer is complex: You open one large panel to reveal the multipurpose tray, and another, even larger, panel behind it to reach the machine's innards. Strong, geared arms control the inner panel's descent to protect the transfer belt attached to it. Mucking around inside the printer with this key part exposed made me nervous, but that's the only way to reach the toner cartridges arrayed within. They are easy to insert and remove.

Toner costs are quite low for the category. The high-capacity cartridges, all designed to last 8000 pages, cost $110 for black (1.4 cents per page) and $215 for each color (2.7 cents per page, per color), but even the standard-capacity cartridges that come with the machine (a 5000-page black one and a 4000-page one for each color) are reasonably priced.

Equipped with the speed and features to satisfy a busy small office or department, Dell's Multifunction Color Laser Printer 3115cn is a solid buy in most ways. If you need high-quality photo printing, however, the Xerox Phaser 6180MFP does a better, albeit slower, job.

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