- Review Date: 3/3/11
- Bottom line:
The Dell 1250c Color LED Printer delivers faster speed and better output quality overall than anything else in its price class, but at a somewhat higher cost per page.
Fast. Reasonably high-quality output across the board. Above-par photo quality.
USB connection only. Low paper capacity, at 150-sheets.
The smaller, less expensive cousin to two Editors' Choice printers—the Dell 2150cdn ($399.99 direct, 4 stars) and Dell 1350cnw Color LED Printer ($299 direct, 4 stars)—the Dell 1250c Color LED Printer ($229.99 direct) is a definitively personal printer, designed primarily for one person's use in any size office. The personal focus shows in its small size, relatively low paper capacity, and lack of wired or wireless network support. However, there's no compromise in speed or output quality, which is enough to make the 1250c an Editors' Choice too.
Like the 1350cnw, the 1250c is an LED printer, which means it's similar to a laser, but uses LEDs instead of a laser to draw the image of each page when it prints. One advantage of LEDs is that they help keep the printer size down. In the case of the 1250c, that translates to a printer that's easily small enough, at 8.9 by 15.5 by 11.8-inches (HWD), to share a desk with and light enough, at just 23.1 pounds, for one person to move into place. The input tray holds only 150 sheets, making it suitable for light duty printing only.
Setup and Speed
Setting up the printer is typical for the breed, although the setup instructions could be improved if they included some words instead of relying on pictures. It would have been useful, for example, to see a statement that explicitly said that the printer ships with the toner installed and ready to print. On the other hand, this is a minor issue at worst. Once you get the printer installed, it works swimmingly.
The 1250c is faster than you might expect for a personal printer, especially one that Dell rates at a relatively slow 12 pages per minute (ppm) for monochrome and 10 ppm for color. For my tests, with the 1250c connected to a Windows Vista system, the printer scored an effective 4.6 ppm on our business applications suite (using QualityLogic's hardware and software for timing).
Keep in mind that although you should see something close to the rated speeds for documents with text only, most of our test files include graphics and photos, which take longer to print. In that context 4.6 ppm is surprisingly fast. In fact the 1250c is faster than some $300 lasers, and a match for others. It's effectively tied with the 1350cnw, at 4.9 ppm, for example, and not much slower than the 2150cdn, at 5.5 ppm. That makes the 1250c notably fast for a personal printer.
Output Quality and Other Issues
The 1250c's output quality is good enough for most business needs up to and including marketing materials like one-page handouts, but it's not quite good enough for serious desktop publishing applications.
The text is a touch below par for a laser-class printer, which shouldn't be a problem for most users, given that par quality for a laser is so high. Unless you have an unusual need for small fonts, you shouldn't have any complaints.
Graphics quality is dead on par for color lasers, which makes it easily good enough for output like PowerPoint handouts. Most people will also consider it good enough for printing their own marketing materials. Photos are a half step below the very best color laser photo output, which also makes them good enough for marketing materials and client newsletters. Most were close enough to true photo quality that if you mounted them in a frame behind glass, they'd pass for photo quality unless you took a close look.
What makes the 1250c an Editors' Choice isn't any single spectacular feature, but the mix of features overall. The balance of small size, fast speed, level of output quality, and even paper handling are just right for anyone who needs a personal color laser for light duty printing and isn't willing to make serious compromises on speed or output quality.
BENCHMARK TEST RESULTS
Check out the test scores for the Dell 1250c.
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