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Dell B1265dfw review - mono laser printer offers good speed, quality, but pricey toner

Small businesses and home-office workers needing relatively small volumes of black-and-white documents might be attracted to Dell's B1265dfw. And beyond the monochrome laser printing, it also has further multifunction capabilities. See all printer reviews.

It feels quite sturdy and solidly built, weighing in at 11.1kg and measuring a compact 406 x 338 x 384 mm. The cool matt-black exterior means it will remain unassuming in the background, helped by its sound levels during operation that we found almost soothing. Take a look at Group test: what's the best mono laser printer?

The B1265dfw comes with a full set of print, copy, scan and fax modes, only targeted at low-output users. There's a simple 250-sheet paper tray in the base of the unit as well as a single-sheet feeder for specialist media types and a 40-page ADF on top. The only annoyance here is Dell's insistence on using a base tray that has to be slightly extended out the back before you can load sheets of A4.

In contrast to a growing trend for MFDs with control panels on a surface in front of or on top of the cover, Dell has opted for a small hinged controller that pops up to the far right of the printer. Resembling an old-style calculator, there's a full number pad and quick access buttons for the main modes, ID cards and Eco function; but the two-line text display is difficult to read except when you're directly in front of it. You might think it's time for these displays to be put to pasture in a touch-screen age, but it’s a cost-saving measure for a commodity budget device.

No complaints, though, about the B1265dfw's connectivity options which comprise 11n Wi-Fi, ethernet and USB 2.0. As you'd expect, mobile device and cloud printing are also included but there's no USB port for flash drives nor memory-card slot.

The printer's finest feature is undoubtedly its speed, as standard black text with a sprinkling of graphics managed to zoom out at around 26 ppm. Duplex versions were equally nippy at 12 ppm and ADF copies averaged 18 ppm.

However, while black text quality is solid and unbroken, copied images are exceptionally dark. Colour scanning to PC provided a much higher level of clarity and contrast, albeit with a slight blue bias.

The supplied toner cartridge is specified to last for 1500 pages, and at current prices that works out at 3.9p per page. A high-capacity 2500-page alternative costing 2.6p per page - both of which are dearer than average.

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