Dell has made its entry into the LED printer category with its 1000 series, and we have with us the 1250c, which uses Dell’s Clear View LED print technology. This printer is designed to be compact for greater space efficiency without any compromise on the print quality. Dell claims that the 1250c is the smallest color laser-class printer in its category, and it is targeted at those who require a compact, laser-class printer with an average duty cycle.

LEDs are used as the light source on the Dell 1250c

LEDs are used as the light source on the Dell 1250c

Color printers using the LED printing technology are laser-class, but use LEDs as the light source in the print head, instead of the conventional laser technology to create the image on the print drum or belt. The technology uses an LED bar to pulse-flash across the page width on the drum or belt as it moves past the print head. Unlike laser technology, which uses a laser diode coupled with spinning mirrors and lenses, this one is far cheaper and more efficient, because the LED print head uses no moving parts.

Features
The printer features a 192 MHz processor with 664 MB RAM for faster processing of multiple documents. The print resolution is 1200×600 dpi for black prints, while color prints can be obtained at 600×600 dpi resolution. The 1250c has just a USB interface for connecting to a PC, which means the printer is not ideal for large offices. Installing the driver is pretty simple and the printer can be ready in a matter of minutes.

The compartment door on the right opens to four toner cartridges, which are easy to install

The compartment door on the right opens to four toner cartridges, which are easy to install

Four toner cartridges – C, M, Y and K are needed. These cartridges are pretty unique. Unlike a conventional laser printer’s toner cartridges, which usually contain a print drum, these ones don’t. It is just a reservoir that contains the ink and an exit valve to let the toner out. This is an advantage over laser printer toner cartridges, because it involves no additional costs of drum replacements in the long run. Each toner cartridge is about the size of a small cordless phone handset and installing the cartridge is child’s play. The black (K) cartridge costs around Rs. 5,000, while the color cartridges (C, M and Y) cost around Rs. 5,600 each. Using a set of high-capacity cartridges one can yield around 2,000 black prints and 1,400 color prints. This brings the per-print cost to around Rs. 2.5 for black and Rs. 4 for color prints (excluding the cost of the paper and electricity). The printer package includes four starter cartridges, which can yield around 700 pages each in black and color.

Build quality
The 1250c has a rugged build with a completely black, matte-finished exterior. This front loading printer can hold up to 150 A4 sheets in the input tray, while the output tray can hold a maximum of 100 sheets. The control panel is located at the top and features ‘resume’ and ‘cancel’ buttons along with status indicators for ‘ready’, ‘paper jam/error’ and four ink tank status indicators.

The control panel just comprises of a ‘resume’ and ‘cancel’ button along with a few status indicators, which are pretty dim

The control panel just comprises of a ‘resume’ and ‘cancel’ button along with a few indicators

The indicator LEDs aren’t very bright and not easily visible from an angle or a distance, so you’ll have to get close to notice them. The front loading and output paper trays can be folded when not in use. The rear of the 1250c features a door for removing paper jams while the right side sports another door for the toner cartridges.

Performance
We tested the printer for print speeds, print quality, first page out, and printer uptime. For print speed, we tested an everyday text document prepared in MS Word, and not the usual 5 percent document stated by printer manufacturers, because no one ever prints a document with 5 percent text.

A real simple design

A real simple design

The maximum speed we attained was around 10 pages per minute, which should suffice for a small office environment. The quality of the prints was also quite impressive. In toner saving mode, a draft copy was noticeably lighter, but readable, while prints in normal mode were quite dark and crisp. Surprisingly, the quality of photos printed on regular A4 paper was excellent. Switching on the power to get the printer in ready mode takes around 18 seconds and the first print was attained in just 15 seconds.

Verdict
The Dell 1250c, which costs around Rs. 17,000, comes in a compact package and provides decent energy savings. In terms of price per print, however, an inkjet MFD would be more economical.

Dell 1250c - one of the smaller colour laser printers around

Dell 1250c – one of the smaller colour laser printers around

An inkjet MFD would also deliver better print resolution, and would include copier, scanner and fax functions along with networking options, all at a lower price. But if you want laser quality prints with cheaper consumables and lower power costs in the long run, we would recommend the Dell 1250c.

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