Dell Unveils Compact SMB LED Color Printers

The new line of desktop color printers work like lasers, but their reliance on LEDs allows them to be smaller than lasers.
The new line of desktop color printers work like lasers, but their reliance on LEDs allows them to be smaller than lasers.Dell today unveiled a new line of desktop printers based on LED technology, meaning that the light source is fixed arrays of tiny LEDs rather than a scanning laser beam. The result is a print engine that uses fewer moving parts and takes up less space, allowing a smaller unit with (hopefully) enhanced reliability.

First is the 1250c, for $229, offering 600 dpi resolution at 10 ppm for color and 12 ppm for black and white. It uses USB connectivity.

The 1350cnw adds network and wireless connectivity for workgroup support, and speeds color output to 12 ppm, and 15 ppm for black and white. The list price is $329.

Both have a footprint (15.5 inches wide by 11.8 inches deep) that is about the size of a laptop, and both dimensions are about four inches smaller than Dell's desktop inkjet. (There's no mention of the height but it appears to be no more than the depth.)

Dell touts them as being 10 percent smaller than the previous smallest laser-class printer (from Samsung). Basically, the LED imaging system takes up only 1/40th the cubic space of a laser imaging system.

Dell also touts the units' image enhancement algorithms that eliminate spontaneous patterns that can show up in half-tone printing.

In November Dell will also come out with multifunction (copy, scan, fax, print) versions of the 1350. These will be somewhat bigger to accommodate the scanner.

The 1355cn will be an MFP with a network as well as a USB interface, measure 16.1x14.9x13.3 inches, and cost $399.

The 1355cnw, with the same dimensions, will add wireless connectivity and cost $449.

Toner, incidentally, is the only consumable, as the rest of the printer engine is covered under the warranty.

Dell figures the cost per page for this family is 3.5 cents per page in black and white, and 18.5 cents per page in color.

To me, the situation is summed up in three figures: 600 dpi resolution, $229, and 18.5 cents per page for color. The resolution is several times better than the resolution achieved by the presses of the first daily newspaper I reported for during my misspent youth. The machine producing that resolution costs less than the table it sits on. But if you crank it up and run wild with color printing, you'll pay through the nose. That is where we need to see improvement: inexpensive toner and ink.

Finally, as ever, these units are available directly from Dell, and so far nowhere else-retailers don't want to compete with Dell's online store. Toner, however, should be available through your online office supply superstores-apparently, there's enough profit in toner for everyone.