Dell 3130CN Workgroup Laser Printer Reviews
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Dell 3130CN Workgroup Laser Printer

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Impressive Color Laser for your Home or Office Network

Apr 19, 2009 (Updated Apr 19, 2009)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Excellent

  • Ease of Use:
  • Paper Handling:

Pros:Impressive Print Quality, Fast Output, Low Up-Front Cost, Plenty of Add-On Features

Cons:Somewhat High Cost of Replacement Toner Cartridges

The Bottom Line: For a low up-front investment, the Dell 3130cn color laser printer is an excellent choice for your home or small office network.  It works with Windows, Mac, and Linux.


Color laser printers have dropped in size and cost over the past several years. It is now becoming cost effective for the advanced home computer user to consider a color laser printer for their family's home network. I was in need of replacing my monochrome laser printer, but needed one that could be added to my network, as my previous one was. When I looked at the choices on the market, I found that for a little more money I could consider bumping up to a color laser. My previous monochrome laser was a Dell 1700n, so I decided to look at the Dell color laser offerings, to see if they had something within my budget.

I came across the new Dell 3130cn, which was part of Dell's new printer lineup for mid 2008. I was impressed with the specifications, and delighted by the low cost. However, there were no product reviews for it yet, so I was unsure as to whether I should trust it or not. Well I thought about it for over two weeks, and finally decided to take a leap of faith. After all, Dell promises that they will credit you if you are not completely satisfied.

I received free delivery of my new 3130cn color laser printer just a few business days after I ordered it. It was delivered in a massive, heavy, reinforced box. It was a slow process, but I managed to wrestle the box into my downstairs home office. The printer is packaged very well, and is quite easy to remove from the box. Although relatively heavy, it was far lighter than I expected it to be. You will still want to chose a sturdy surface to sit the printer on. Each of the 4 toner cartridges (black, magenta, yellow, and cyan) are already installed in the printer, but must be removed to shake and pull out the protective wrappings. The entire unpacking and setup experience was as easy as one could hope for. Since I wanted the printer on my home network, I did not try using the USB connection directly to my computer. I plugged an Ethernet cable (not provided) into the printer and into my 16 port gigabit network switch. I then powered on the printer and gave it a static IP address from the front control panel. One I had the IP locked in, I was able to easily access all of the printer settings from its built-in web interface. You simple open up a web browser and type http:// followed by the IP address you chose. The Dell 3130cn printer status page will pop up, showing you the current toner levels, and several other bits of useful information. From this page you can select different links, which will take you to several different configuration pages. It even has a link to order replacement toner cartridges directly from Dell. There are so many settings you can fiddle with, from this interface, so it can seem a little intimidating the first time you look at it. Everything is laid out in a practical manner though, so if your somewhat used to setting up printer settings, you will be able to navigate the entire web interface quite easily.

After getting all of my configurations set, I popped in the included CD, and installed the print drivers for the Dell 3130cn (both PCL and PS drivers). The software took just over 3 minutes to install, which is a blessing compared to any HP network printer software I have ever installed in the past. The software prompted the printing of a Windows printer test page, which I was able to send across the network without any problem, from my home office workstation PC. Within minutes I was testing out the capabilities of this new device, printing several pages of text, color graphics, and even some photos. All of these printed out fast and with impressive quality. This printer is rated for up to 31 ppm in black, and up to 26 ppm in color. Well most of us know that these ratings usually reflect low (draft) quality printing, and bumping up the settings to high quality normally cuts these numbers substantially. Well I am happy to report that even at the highest print quality settings, the 3130cn cranks out pages at lightning speeds. I would estimate the page output speed is cut back by about 25% to 35%, when switching from normal to the highest print quality settings. Do the math and you will see that the 3130cn is still a screamer in print speed. The print quality is remarkable for most text and color graphics, and even very good at full color photographs. I would rate the printing as follows:

Text = Very Good (for all but the fanciest and smallest font styles)
Grayscale Graphics and Pictures = Good
Color Graphics = Very Good
Photographs = Very Good

The design of this printer is rather bland and somewhat ugly (in my opinion), but it seems well built, and should last for many years in a small to medium sized office environment. It has the print quality and features of printers that are priced far higher. The overall performance blows me away, and the value for your money is phenomenal. This model will even continue printing in black, when a color cartridge runs out, so that you don't have any down time. Here are some of the most important specifications for this remarkable color laser:

* Printer Type: Networked Color Laser
* Dimensions: 15.8"-W x 19.8"-D x 18.5"-H
* Weight: 53.5 lbs. (24.3 kg)
* Max Print Speed: 31 ppm mono / 26 ppm color (actual print speed will vary depending on selected quality settings)
* Resolution: 600 x 600 dpi (2400 image quality)
* Duty Cycle: 70,000 pages (per month)
* Standard Paper Input: 250-sheet drawer, 150-sheet multipurpose tray
* Optional Paper Input: 550-sheet drawer
* Processor: 400 MHz
* Standard Memory: 256 MB (expandable up to 1,280 MB)
* Optional Accessories: 550-sheet Paper Drawer, Duplexer, 512 MB and 1 GB Memory Module, Network Protocol Card, Wireless Network Adapter, 40 GB Hard Drive, up to 4 year Extended Warranty
* Standard Interfaces: USB 2.0, IEEE 1284 Parallel Port, Ethernet 10/100 BaseT (cables not included)
* Printer Language: HP PCL 5e/6 Emulation (81 fonts), and Adobe PostScript 3 (136 fonts)
* Compatible Client Operating Systems: Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000, Widows XP (32 & 64-bit), Windows Vista (32 & 64-bit), Windows Server 2003 s64, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 x64, Mac OS X (10.2 - 10.5), UNIX (Solaris 9 and 10, HP-UX11i), Linux (Red Hat Enterprise Linux ES 4/5, SuSE Enterprise SuSE 10, TurboLinux Fuji)

This Dell color laser printer includes the Dell Color Track 2.1 management tool, which gives you the ability to create up to 50 user or department accounts, to monitor print jobs per account. You can even set limits for color and black & white printing, or lock a user out of color printing altogether. All of these settings can be adjusted from the handy configuration web interface.

You can expect the following items in the product box:

* Dell 3130cn Network Capable Color Laser Printer
* Drivers and Utilities CD
* One Black Toner Cartridge (4,000 page yield)
* One Cyan Toner Cartridge (3,000 page yield
* One Yellow Toner Cartridge (3,000 page yield)
* One Magenta Toner Cartridge (3,000 page yield)
* Quick Start Poster
* Operation Manual
* Product Information Guide

As of this writing, I have been using this new Dell color laser printer for about 6 months, and so far I am loving it. I have been really cranking out the print jobs, most of which are a mixture of monochrome text and color graphics, and I have yet to have a single paper jam. I use 28-lb. 8-1/2 x 11 color laser paper, so it is slightly heavier and brighter (98 rated brightness) than your average plain copy paper. The printed text is crisp and easily readable, the graphics are sharp and clean, and the colors really pop. I use a business text and graphics print setting, which is just below the photo quality setting, and I am averaging around 22 to 24 pages per minute in print speed. The printer takes between 20 to 30 seconds to wake up from deep sleep mode, but I believe that is pretty average for most laser printers of this price range. In fact, my only real complaint is the cost of the optional accessories and high capacity toner cartridges. I am not going to quote prices in this review, as they may change over time, but as of this writing Dell is charging a small fortune for the duplexer and high capacity paper drawer. You could easily spend more on accessories than you do for the printer itself. Of course the toner is expensive, especially if you opt for the high capacity cartridges (9,000 page yield). Even when purchasing the standard capacity toner cartridges, you could almost just buy a new printer, which comes with a new set of cartridges, if you had to replace all of the cartridges at once. But high prices on ink and toner replacements seem to be standard practice in today's printer market. The manufacturers sell you the printer for a song, but they make the real money on consumables and optional accessories. Still, I have used and tested many laser printers, over the years, and I can honestly say that the Dell 3130cn color laser is an exceptional printer in its price range. It may be a bit big and ugly on the outside, but it's fast and well designed on the inside, and what it produces is rich, colorful, high quality prints. I am giving this printer 5 stars, because of its outstanding performance, ease of installation, and exceptional value. There are a lot of other color laser printers out there, but for the money you can't go wrong by investing in the 3130cn by Dell.


Recommend this product? Yes


Amount Paid (US$): 449.00
Operating System: Windows and Macintosh


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