August 1, 2012 Dell B1160w Wireless Mono Laser Printer

It takes only a glance at the Dell B1160w Wireless Mono Laser Printer to peg it as a personal printer. Smaller than an inkjet, it won’t take up much room on your desk, and even though it offers Wi-Fi, its 150-sheet paper tray limits its usefulness as a shared printer, even in a micro office. As a personal printer in any size office, however, or a shared printer in a micro office with extremely light-duty print needs, it can potentially be a good fit.

Measuring just 7.0 by 13.0 by 8.5 inches (HWD) and weighing in at 8 pounds 13 ounces complete with toner, the B1160w is both smaller and lighter than the similarly priced Editors’ Choice Brother HL-2240 . Much of the HL-2240’s extra size comes from its better paper handling, including a 100-sheet larger paper capacity plus a manual feed that the B1160w lacks. The trade off is that the HL-2240 doesn’t include Wi-Fi .

In that context, it’s worth mentioning that if you don’t need Wi-Fi, but also don’t need the HL-2240’s paper handling, you can save a few dollars by getting the Dell B1160 Mono Laser Printer ($99.99 direct), which also lacks Wi-Fi. According to Dell the B1160 and B1160w are otherwise identical, so all the comments in this review should apply to it as well.

Speed, Quality, and Other Issues
For my tests, I connected the B1160w by USB cable and installed it on a system running Windows Vista. Setup was standard fare.

On our business applications suite, I timed the printer (using QualityLogic’s hardware and software for timing) at an effective 7.3 pages per minute (ppm), which is a reasonable speed for a personal printer. As a point of reference, the directly competitive Samsung ML-2165W came in at 7.6 ppm. However, both the Dell and Samsung printers are significantly slower than the Brother HL-2240, at 11.4 ppm.

The B1160w does a little better on output quality than speed, but not by a lot. Here again, it’s good enough for most purposes, but not impressive. Text quality is at the low end of the range where the vast majority of mono lasers fall. It’s easily good enough for most business purposes, but well short of what you’d want for serious desktop publishing.

Graphics quality is at the high end of the range for mono lasers, making the output easily good enough for most business purposes, including PowerPoint handouts and the like. Depending on your level of perfectionism, you might even consider the quality suitable for graphics in, say, a business report that needs to look fully professional. Photo quality is at the high end of the tight range that includes most mono lasers, making it good enough to print Web pages with photos and even print photos in client newsletters or the like.

One potential issue for the B1160w is its running cost. The claimed 4 cents per page is roughly double the cost for the HL-2240. How much of an issue this is will depend on how much you print. But keep in mind that after just 5,000 pages, a two cent per page difference adds up to $100.

The best argument for choosing the Dell B1160w Wireless Mono Laser Printer is that you need both Wi-Fi and the small size. If you don’t need either, the HL-2240 offers faster speed, better paper handing, and a lower cost per page. If you need both features, however, and need the small size in particular, because you don’t have much room for a printer, the Dell B1160w Wireless Mono Laser Printer can not only serve nicely, it may be literally the better fit.

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