Although they have their pros and cons, cartridge-based printers can sometimes be more troublesome and frustrating to use than you’d like.
Dell Photo All-In-One Printer 964
- Good host of features, simple to use, PictBridge compatable, Fast print speeds
- Text quality is average, colour prints have sepia tint
Trading performance and quality for an economical price, the Dell Photo All-In-One Printer 964 still provides a wealth of small-office features.
Price$ 349.00 (AUD)
Dell crams a whole host of features into this compact, well-priced multifunction unit.
Dell's Photo All-In-One Printer 964 uses internals similar to the Lexmark P4350's, with corresponding inks and driver software, but adds an automatic document feeder (ADF) and color fax capabilities.
The ADF lets you scan or copy documents up to 50 pages long. The main paper tray accommodates only 100 sheets of plain paper, but a slot built in to the output tray gives you an alternative path for envelopes and 4-by-6-inch photo paper.
The control panel is remarkably simple, thanks to the five-way navigation buttons and effective use of the 2.4-inch color LCD. To the right sits a numeric pad for fax dialing; you can select from up to 99 speed dial numbers. On the lower right of the front are four media slots capable of accepting all the major digital camera memory card formats, along with a direct-print port for printing straight from a PictBridge-compatible digital camera. Also, you can plug in a USB flash drive to print any images it contains--a feature common on photo printers, but surprisingly rare among multifunction units.
The 964 ships with a color cartridge containing dye-based cyan, magenta, and yellow inks, and a pigment-based black cartridge designed for text. To print photos, we replaced the black cartridge with one containing pigment-based light magenta, light cyan, and black inks. On photo paper, the six inks gave us good-quality photos with sharp details and bold colors, but with a slight sepia tint. On plain paper, the regular black cartridge printed fuzzy text with narrow horizontal bands across the characters. Our line-art sample fared even worse. Narrow horizontal bands appeared about every quarter-inch, and vertical lines were far from straight. Color graphics that were printed on plain paper also showed lots of banding.
At least text printed quickly, with the AIO 964 achieving a notable 7.4 pages per minute in our lab tests. Graphics speeds were a more average 1.8 ppm. Our test photo printed slowly on letter-size glossy paper--a lingering 2 minutes, 57 seconds. Scanning and copying were also at the low end of the speed scale. Our 4-by-5-inch test photo scanned in a leisurely 13 seconds. Scan quality was consistently good across all of our tests, while our text document copy was up there with the best.
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