* Prices may differ from that shown
I moved house in 2010 and managed to break my trusty old HP printer during the process. We managed a little while after this without a printer but it is a handy thing to have around, as the oldest child likes to print off homework projects rather than do them by hand and I can print off colouring pages or make flash cards for my toddler. So, deciding it was time we got a new printer I popped onto Littlewoods (figuring I could use some of my rewards from them) and found a cheap one (I really wish I'd done more research but with a baby and boxes everywhere I wasn't in the mood!). I looked at models that photocopy and scan as well as print as these are handy features to have (and often they don;t cost too much more) and thought a wireless one would be good as I usually use a laptop that's never in one place so I could use the printer from wherever I was in the house.
So, the cheapest all in one wireless printer for sale at the time in Littewoods was this; the Dell V313W wireless all-in-1.
***Price and availability***
Littlewoods no longer sell this model, but when I bought it from them it was on sale at £69. It wasn't worth this price, let alone the original higher price (around £100) that they first sold it for!
This printer is still for sale on Amazon and a few other places. On Amazon, the printer will currently cost you £61.90 with a £1.10 shipping charge on top. Again, this printer is really not worth that price. In all honesty it's probably not worth anything in my view!
The printer comes well packaged in a green and white cardboard box with carry handles either side.
Inside you find the printer protected by styrofoam (which I can't bear to touch so I always have to get someone else to unpack these things!) at either end. There is also a plastic bag around the printer, clear plastic protectors on the lid and display, a bit of foam under the scanner part and orange tape to stick down the various parts of the printer so that they do not move during transit. I like that they used orange tape so that it's clear to see where you need to remove the tape rather than spending ages looking for clear tape when you realise you can't open parts.You will also find a few other items in the box:
A folder containing instructions and your set up disk.
Ink cartridges, one black and one colour.
A wire to set up your wireless connection.
A powder cable.
I don't much like the look of this printer at all. It's white, which rather than looking clean and bright seems to just show up dust and the top and the paper feed are black. I think this probably would have looked better all in one colour.
The operating panel on the front opens out upwards, I don't understand why this is necessary. It looks odd, is a pain to put it back down when you've finished and it gets in the way. When you combine the tilted up front panel with the upper and lower rests for paper, there are just too many sticky out bits for it to look tidy.
Overall this printer looks like it was designed by a stormtrooper. You might think a Star Wars reference is a good thing (because everyone knows Star Wars is cool right?), in this instance it really isn't.
The set up is fairly simple, but it does take a while and I found I did feel the need to refer to instructions where normally I'd be fine setting up this type of product by just following the disk instructions.
During set up you have to fix a little see through plastic thing with a few words (like start, on, copy, scan) on the control panel. I couldn't see why on earth they don't just put this on during manufacture!
To get the wireless network to recognise the printer took quite a while as I found I needed to reset everything twice.
Although there were no real problems during the set up I did feel it could have been easier and I think that someone with little experience of setting up this sort of thing onto a wireless network may well struggle.
***Using the printer***
The printer is fairly easy to use (when it's actually working properly), though it has a few too many buttons to say that it's simple.
You have your display with the 3 control buttons to use it, a set up button, a start button, a black/colour button, an on button, a back button a scan button, a photocopy button and a print button! Once you browse the manual and understand what button does what things go fairly smoothly, but it's a bit annoying for me as I'm the kind of person who doesn't have much patience for reading manuals and would prefer to just jump right in!
The control panel has a very small screen which will tell you what the printer is doing and will also let you know of any problems with the printer. This same screen is involved in the set up of the printer too. While it's nice of the printer to tell you how things are going, it would be nice if you didn't need to get right up close and squint a little to see exactly what it is trying to tell you.
So, you figure out what the buttons do by reading the manual, you open up your paper feed trays and tilt up the control panel, tell the printer what to do, squint at the screen to check it's all ok and let it do it's stuff...rather noisily. While this is only a printer and so it's never going to exactly wake the neighbours or anything it is not anywhere near as quiet as my old printer was.
The quality of the stuff you scan/copy/print is good, I can't fault much there but I just feel it's all a bit too much hassle getting there. I did have problems however a little while before an ink cartridge ran out as everything came out of the printer streaky!
***Replacing the ink***
At some point you will inevitably run out of ink and need to replace the cartridges. It seems that the inks for this printer are neither the cheapest or the longest lasting. In fact they are not very long lasting at all compared to other printers and inks I have used.
Because the inks come in either black or colour, you have to replace all the colours if just one has run out. My old printer had the colours all separate and I much preferred this.
Replacing the ink is simple, you open up the printer and move the print-head to the middle so you can reach into it, lift up the top of the print carriage, press something to pop out the old ink cartridges and click in the new ones (remembering to click down the top of the carriage again after).
Unfortunately, what happened to me on one occasion of replacing the ink (and from looking about online this seems to be a common problem) was that the printer from them on told me there was a problem with the print head. I will go into more detail about this later!
***When things go wrong***
In the user manual there are clear trouble shooting instructions complete with illustrations. However, I would have found it more helpful to have had photos showing the whole printer (so you can relate properly to where things are) rather than a black and white illustration just showing me the one part you need to be looking at.
It's pretty easy to find Dell's customer service details in the paperwork that comes with the printer or through Google (or any other search engine of your choice I guess!)
As I said earlier, I had a problem with my print head and found myself needing to contact customer services (I did try Littlewoods first as that's where I bought it but was passed on to Dell instead).
Rather annoyingly my print head problem didn't just mean that I could not print, it also meant that the scanner and photocopier would not work. So in effect, my whole printer was frozen other than the little display repeating that there is an error with the print-head. It would be much better if in cases like this you could at least get the scanner to still work!
I followed the instructions in the user manual for cleaning out the print-head. I'd never had to do this with any other printer and so wondered why on earth this one needed cleaning just 6 months after purchase and only light use.
Sadly I found that cleaning the print-head and returning it to the printer along with the ink cartridges did not solve my problem like it should have. So I found myself on the phone to Dell who replaced my base unit. This new base unit still told me there was a problem with the print head.
By this point you may wonder why I haven't just bought a new print head. Well, as my printer was still under guarantee and I had not done anything to damage it I would not have expected to need to replace any parts on it. I had found that a new print head would have set me back £30, which incidentally is only £2 less than I can buy a whole new scanner/printer/copier for on sale!
Eventually Dell replaced the print head for me, why they did not do this to begin with I don't know!
I have now developed a problem with the paper feed, nothing comes out straight and I keep getting paper jams. As my printer is no longer under guarantee I think it might be time to finally get rid of the awful thing and buy myself a printer that doesn't frequently drive me batty.
If you do have a problem, customer services are very polite and I have not found myself hanging about on hold. Using codes which you will find on your product, you can choose automated options which mean that you get through to the right people first time. However, I did spend 45 minutes on the phone without having a solution to my problem.
I was not very impressed with this printer to begin with, the fact that it drank ink so quickly ruined things a bit more and the print-head problem was the final nail in the coffin for me. I could not recommend this printer there are much much better options out there and the amount of people you can find if you do a search on Google who have had problems with this product or rate it very low is quite bad