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Dell / Printing Technology: Laser/ Type: Copier / printer / scanner

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      04.01.2010 10:37
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      a somewhat average piece of kit

      I've been using the Dell Laser 1815dn for well over a year now and thought I should share some of my views on this multi-function machine.


      WHAT IS IT?

      Basically it's one of those all one in all machines that is supposed to make life easier when it comes to doing lots of things all from one piece of kit. Its purpose is to print, scan, fax and photocopy your documents for you.

      This is a review written from the point of view of a user, not a technical expert, and things such as setting up network options and email information were not carried out by myself but our IT Manager. The instruction manual provided with the printer give detailed instructions on how to do all you need to set this up to your individual requirements.


      DOES IT DELIVER?

      Well I have to tell you up front that it certainly delivers what it's supposed to... Clear crisp photocopies are delivered pretty fast at that (but only once it gets going - I'll come back to that comment in a bit). It claims to print up to 27 pages per minute, I've timed it and yes it does deliver what it promises on that front. Not that I've needed to copy 27 pages in a minute very often - I work in the IT industry so we try to be as paperless as possible.

      When it comes to scanning, you insert your document in the feed tray at the top or on the glass platen whichever you prefer then select whether you want to scan to USB, PC or Network. When choosing PC or Network, you then need to have it sent to email or a folder such as "my documents". I generally choose "my documents" and the document is sent to the folder as a PDF file and waiting on my PC before I even get back there from across the office where our Dell sits in the corner.

      Faxing documents is fairly easy too. If you've ever used a fax machine, this isn't much different and I don't feel I need to explain in detail how to send a fax.

      When printing to the Dell, I just need to select the printer from my printers list, it's not set as my default and to be honest, I very rarely need to print to this machine as I have a HP Laserjet just a few feet away from me which I prefer to use.

      When printing graphics, I have to admit the quality is crisp and clear, as one would expect with most laser printers these days. Printing photos in black and white gives a pretty good end result so I have no cause for complaint for this aspect of the Dell's capabilities. When scanning black and white or greyscale documents, I have no issues, although I would point out that it has some difficulty scanning from colour documents so I tend not to scan colour documents from this particular machine as I have a separate Canon scanner for that purpose which also copies documents.

      With the Dell, I do like that you can set up incoming faxes to be delivered to your inbox without much difficulty and this is a handy feature for me. Incoming faxes are few and far between and rarely urgent but it's nice to be able to receive them as email attachments rather than possibly having them sit in the output tray for maybe days without realising a fax has arrived. This is also very handy due to the number of "spam faxes" we still get from strange businesses trying to sell us fork lift trucks (???!) or debt consolidation (even though we're registered with the relevant services to opt out of these type of faxes. If all these faxes got through to us, I imagine we'd be out of toner and constantly filling up the paper tray.

      With the software that you get with the Dell, you can also set up your PC to send faxes directly bypassing the need to physically print a fax and send it manually.


      ANY ISSUES

      I have several issues with the Dell 1815dn. First and foremost is the funny smell it gives off when you print from it. Not funny as in one that makes me laugh. I can't describe it really, possibly a burning toner smell? It's not pleasant and it's one of the reasons this machine is situated at the far end of the office where no one sits! This smell is evident more often than not.

      Another issue I have (and for me this is the biggest issue) is how long it takes to "wake up" when it's in sleep mode. As I mentioned we're an IT firm so we try not to waste too much paper when we can communicate mostly electronically but of course, when we need a photocopy or to send a fax or scan something, we use the Dell 1815dn. My issue is the time it takes for it to wake up. The settings are fiddly, you need to select which option you want by way of using the arrows beneath the small screen, i.e. photocopy, fax, scan (unless you're printing which you can do directly from your PC which I have no issues with). To photocopy or fax or scan something one has to press the arrow keys several times and almost every time you have to repeat this whole process at least once because it take 10-15 seconds to come out of sleep mode. When you just want to photocopy 1 sheet of paper this is very annoying, when you just want to scan something or fax something this is very annoying, so basically it's always very annoying. When needing to print something, at least I have the option of using a different printer.

      The Dell is pretty much used as just a photocopier, fax machine and scanner. I could be doing the Dell a disservice, maybe if it's used heavily all day, it's not as annoying but for the amount of usage it gets here, it's quite frustrating having to wait for it to come out of its sleep mode.

      Another issue I noticed a few times which is completely random; is that it tells you it needs a new cartridge when it doesn't. I've had to open the compartment where the toner sits a few times, remove the toner and insert it back in on a few occasions and within moments I'm told it's still at 80%+ capacity which is rather worrying.

      The Dell has a LCD screen which gives you a 2 line display. It's fairly easy to use but personally I find it time-consuming. The top line of the LCD screen reads "Ready - Toner XX%" where XX is the percentage of toner remaining. The second line defaults at:
      scan fax

      The s are scrollable and are easy and intuitive enough to use but personally I would have preferred separate buttons for the different functions, even when you scroll through each option you have to do more scrolling and having one button to access each feature would have been more practical in my humble opinion.


      WHAT'S THE DAMAGE?

      How much does this machine and its accessories cost? Well the machine itself can be picked up for under £200 these days. According to the Dell website I understand this actual machine is no longer available from Dell (correct at January 2010) but you can source it from other retailers still.

      Standard toner cartridges are available for about £56 which yield approximately 3000 pages at 5% capacity (i.e. standard letters/memos, faxes, etc). The high capacity toners are about £70 and give you about 5000 pages again at 5% capacity.


      OVERALL RATING

      I would give this printer a fairly average 3 out of 5 stars. It's fairly bulky, somewhat noisy, somewhat smelly and rather slow to get warmed up, but once it's going, it's fairly decent.


      SOME TECHNICAL SPECS

      LCD 2 line control panel
      Numeric keypad
      Network ready
      Built in duplexer
      250 sheet paper tray
      USB port
      Ethernet port
      Output tray for maximum 150 sheets
      Scan to USB port or print from USB port
      Footprint: 17.7 x 18 x 16.7 in (w x d x h)
      Weight: 16 kilos (including toner cartridge)
      Warm up time: 40 seconds!
      RAM: 96Mb (expandable up to 192Mb)


      WHAT'S IN THE BOX?

      I've left the technical and this section to the end as it might not be of interest to everyone but here's what's included when you purchase this piece of kit.

      Obviously the printer itself, a toner cartridge (3000 yield as standard), power cords, telephone cord, owner's manual, driver and utilities CD, setup diagram and quick reference guide. You can access an online manual here: http://support.euro.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/ prn1815/en/index.htm# online_documentation

      NB: We've had no call to use manufacturer support since we've had this printer but Dell gives a 1 year warranty with the printer which can be extended.

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