Color laser printer recommendations
March 14, 2007 11:11 AM   Subscribe

I am looking into buying a color laser printer for home office use. I am currently looking at either the Dell 3110cn or 3010cn, and would welcome reading about experiences with those models as well as recommendations for other printer models.

Similar question here, but it's been almost a year since that question, printer models change fast, and I am in the U.S. while that was asked by somebody in Australia. In terms of price my upper limit is $500, with some wiggle room. I am not looking for low-end consumer models, since I am printing out quite a bit more than the occasional email. I am interested in high print quality for diagrams and charts, and won't be printing photographs or posters with it. Also, I am not interested in ink jet printer recommendations, we already have one and I don't use it much. I do have a Brother HL-5170DN laser printer that I use heavily and has performed well.
posted by needled to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I currently use a Konika-Minota 2400 color laser -- it's not insanely fast, but prints pretty nicely, and is $250 or so... Very happy with it.
posted by frwagon at 11:33 AM on March 14, 2007

Best answer: We have a 3100cn at our office, and it's been a good printer--almost 3 years old now. It's big, noisy, and kinda slow, but it does a nice job and it's not too expensive to operate. The 3110cn is the new and improved version, and it looks to be just as good if not better.

I'd stay away from the 3010cn; it's a host-based printer that's dependent on your computer's processor for printing (read: slow.) Also, it's only compatible with Windows, and there's no PostScript support.
posted by bhayes82 at 12:30 PM on March 14, 2007

Dell printers are manufactured by Lexmark but you can't use regular Lexmark toner cartridges in them. The cartridges for the Dell machines are supplied only by Dell and they mark them up substantially. Dell is not making money on the printers, only on the consumables. Since color printers require 4 cartridges at a time they can get costly to operate. The models change often so that the cartridge remanufacturers can not keep up with them so you won't see compatible cartridges at the office supply store.

The printers are good quality but they cost more than an HP or Xerox color printer to keep them operating.
posted by Soda-Da at 1:12 PM on March 14, 2007

Best answer: After a fair amount of research, we decided on the Dell 3110cn for our office. It's fairly fast and quiet, and relatively cheap. The print quality is so-so, and colors are a bit washed out, but that's compared to our more expensive Xerox Phaser 8500 and the Ricoh CL3000 that it replaced.

1st page out time has been around...I'd say 15-30 seconds or so...not great but not too bad. The manual feed tray is a bit annoying (the entire freaking front panel sort of folds down) but it's functional.

It's also got postscript which is nice. Overall, we're happy with it.
posted by edjusted at 1:14 PM on March 14, 2007

Dell just replaced our office's 3100cn with the 3110. We do a high volume of printing and basically ran the 3100 into the ground. Luckily it was under warranty. I'll second Soda-Da that the cartridges are very expensive. I also loathe having to talk to Dell for service, as I am invariably on hold for at least 30 minutes, and diagnosing with them over the phone usually takes me over an hour.

Getting the replacement printer out of them took literally 6 weeks (after they agreed to replace the printer during a marathon diagnosing session) because they kept telling us that the peripherals had been sent when they had not, and each time I would call, I would have to tell the whole long story to a new rep, who would have to take longer and longer reading through the case history, and would then issue me a new service ID, then the peripherals would not show up and I would start all over again.

Our original 3100 came free with a set of desktops we purchased. I don't know if I would go with a Dell if I had to purchase a printer for my office, just because of the difficulty I have had getting them serviced. In terms of quality for the money, the unit is a pretty good deal, though.
posted by paddingtonb at 2:56 PM on March 14, 2007

Dell printers have extremely expensive toner.
posted by k8t at 3:13 PM on March 14, 2007

Response by poster: For those who have commented that Dell printers have expensive toner, what other specific models of printers should I be considering? I welcome suggestions.
posted by needled at 3:38 PM on March 14, 2007

Dell's *inkjet* printers have been manufactured by Lexmark, but their lasers are not. Almost all of them, our 3100cn included, are based on Fuji-Xerox components. In fact, the 3100 is almost an exact clone of the Xerox C525A.

Dell 3100cn
- Fuji C525A. Same form factor, same front panel buttons/layout (note that most of the 3100cns have the optional 2nd paper tray attached)

Unfortunately, the toner cartridges are slightly different, so you are stuck with Dell-branded toner. That said, I think it's still cheaper than HP (pay attention to page yield!) Other maintenance? We've had to replace the imaging drum ($180) every 12k pages or so.
posted by bhayes82 at 8:43 PM on March 14, 2007

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