When it comes to meeting the high-volume printing needs of a bustling office environment, cheap printers geared for personal use usually don't offer the performance and features needed to keep up. Stepping up from an entry-level color laser printer gets you more speed and the durability to print many more pages per month. Other workplace-friendly features include higher-capacity paper trays, more memory for faster printing of complex jobs, and often lower overall consumables cost. The trade-offs are larger physical size and a much higher price tag.
According to reviews, the Dell 5130cdn (Est. $1,300) is a top color laser printer for businesses with high-volume printing needs. This is in part due to its fast printing speed. According to hands-on tests by reviewers at PCMag.com and PC World, the 5130cdn is among the fastest color laser printers, with real-life printing speeds of about 25 PPM for plain text; though that falls short of the claimed maximum of 47 PPM, it's still impressive in its own right.
When it comes to text, reviewers differ. For example, Jon L. Jacobi of PC World calls the text print quality "nearly perfect," while Tony Hoffman of PCMag.com states that it's "slightly subpar." Graphics quality is pretty good -- certainly good enough for PowerPoint presentations and basic handouts, says Hoffman. Photo quality is fair at best, though that's not a surprise for a high-speed laser printer like this one.
Low-cost consumables add to the Dell 5130cdn's reputation as a workplace workhorse. So does its monthly duty cycle of 110,000 pages. A 550-sheet paper tray plus a 150-sheet multipurpose tray come standard, and you can add optional trays and a sheet feeder to boost that all the way up to a potential 2,900-sheet maximum. Ethernet networking is built in. You can also transform the Dell 5130cdn into a wireless color laser printer, though that requires the purchase of an optional wireless card (Est. $100).
The Xerox Phaser 7100/N (Est. $1,500) color laser printer earns rave reviews for its ability to handle a vast array of media types, all the way up to A3 tabloid paper (11 by 17 inches). Reviewers say it's a great bargain, as color laser printers that can support tabloid-size paper can easily cost twice as much. Text quality is in the eye of the reviewer, but even the harshest critic says it's no worse than average compared to other color laser printers. Graphics quality is also pretty good. Photo quality looms slightly above par, which Tony Hoffman of PCMag.com says is easily adequate for basic marketing materials. Reviewers find the Xerox Phaser 7100/N to be quite fast; Hoffman notes that it does very well in his site's benchmark speed tests.
Standard paper capacity consists of a 250-sheet main tray and 150-sheet secondary tray; both can handle tabloid-size paper. Three optional trays are available (Est. $400 each), bumping potential paper capacity to 2,050. Reviewers say the Xerox Phaser 7100/N isn't a consumables hog, and that running costs are average to a little bit better when compared with color laser printers in the same class. With its maximum duty cycle of 52,000 pages per month, the Xerox Phaser 7100/N is not ideal for settings with high printing volume, but it should be a consideration for those looking for a high-end small office laser printer. Ethernet networking is built in, with Wi-Fi available as an option.