Dell built a lot of user-friendliness into the Dell 2130cn. For instance, easy-to-read labels aid you in replacing the cartridges (which are nestled in a compartment on the right side of the printer).

The Dell 2130cn's extensive documentation includes a printed manual covering operation and maintenance, as well as HTML-based user and troubleshooting guides that go into even greater detail and extras such as a library of videos showing how to install options (such as duplexer or wireless printer adaptor) and how to troubleshoot problems such as finding and fixing an improperly installed toner cartridge.

There's also a web-based configuration utility that lets you check printer status and ink levels without ever touching the Dell 2130cn.

The Dell 2130cn's solid performance in our tests is another plus. Plain-text printouts look crisp, and they came out at a rate of 16.5 pages per minute (ppm) - average overall, but pretty close to the vendor's specified engine speed of 20ppm. Its graphics speed - just 4.9 ppm - falls shorter of its spec, but that's actually one of the faster times among colour lasers we've tested. Photos we printed displayed sharp detail and depth. colours, even tough flesh tones, appeared to be well within the natural range.

The Dell 2130cn's standard configuration is pretty basic, but it has some room to grow. Its 250-sheet input tray feels sturdy and has helpful markings. You can purchase a second 250-sheet input tray or an optional duplexer. A manual feed slot above the main tray lets you feed one envelope or other thick media at a time. We'd have liked to see a beefier multipurpose tray, but what we really missed was Mac drivers - the 2130cn doesn't support that platform.

The Dell 2130cn ships with a high-yield, 2,500-page black (K) cartridge, and standard-size, 1,000-page cyan (C), magenta (M), and yellow (Y) cartridges. Unfortunately, replacing any of these supplies may induce sticker shock.

The high-yield black costs £42. High-yield colour supplies cost £52 apiece, making four-colour printing an expensive business. These prices are marginally acceptable compared with the high-yield supplies offered by other colour lasers we've tested, but the standard-size supplies are significantly worse, at £32 and £42 respectively.


We like a lot of things about the Dell 2130cn, but the pricey consumables should make any cost-conscious office pause to consider.