Dell 2130cn colour laser printer

Dell’s cubelike 2130cn colour laser printer tries to address the small-office audience that needs something between Dell’s brawny 3130cn and its lighter-weight 1230c. It does quite a good job, but its pricey consumables overshadow many of its accomplishments.

Dell built a lot of user-friendliness into the 2130cn. For instance, easy-to-read labels aid you in replacing the cartridges (which are nestled in a compartment on the right side of the printer). The extensive documentation includes a printed manual covering operation and maintenance, as well as HTML-based user and troubleshooting guides that go into even greater detail and extras like a library of videos showing how to install options (such as duplexer or wireless printer adapter) and how to troubleshoot problems such as finding and fixing an improperly installed toner cartridge. There’s also a Web-based configuration utility that lets you check printer status and ink levels without ever touching the printer.

The 2130cn’s solid performance in our tests is another plus. Plain-text printouts looked crisp, and they came out at a rate of 16.5 pages per minute (ppm)–average overall, but pretty close to the vendor’s specified engine speed of 20 ppm. Its graphics speed–just 4.9 ppm–falls shorter of its spec, but that’s actually one of the faster times among colour lasers we’ve tested. Photos we printed displayed sharp detail and depth. Colors, even tough flesh tones, appeared to be well within the natural range.

The 2130cn’s standard configuration is pretty basic, but it has some room to grow. Its 250-sheet input tray feels sturdy and has helpful markings. You can purchase a second 250-sheet input tray or an optional duplexer for $150 each. A manual feed slot above the main tray lets you feed one envelope or other thick media at a time. I’d have liked to see a beefier multipurpose tray, but what I really missed was Mac drivers–the 2130cn doesn’t support that platform.

The 2130cn ships with a high-yield, 2500-page black (K) cartridge, and standard-size, 1000-page cyan (C), magenta (M), and yellow (Y) cartridges. Unfortunately, replacing any of these supplies may induce sticker shock. The high-yield black costs $70, or 2.8 cents per plain-text page. High-yield colour supplies cost $95 apiece–making a page with all four colours cost 14 cents total. These prices are marginally acceptable compared with the high-yield supplies offered by other color lasers we’ve tested, but the standard-size supplies are significantly worse: five cents per plain-text page, 23 cents total for a four-colour page.

I liked a lot of things about the 2130cn, but the pricey consumables should make any cost-conscious office pause. HP’s Colour LaserJet CP2025n may cost more up front, but its toner costs are far more reasonable (and it has Mac drivers).

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