The Dell 3110cn is a midpriced, middle-performing color laser printer for small or home offices. For $500, you get a fairly basic feature set; add-ons, such as a duplexer, will jack up the price. For that money, we far prefer the Lexmark C530dn, which comes with a built-in duplexer, enhancements that make it environmentally friendly, better print quality, and faster color prints. Its mono prints do lag behind those of the Dell, however. Also, this particular Lexmark model doesn't offer expanded paper options, but the built-in paper handling should be sufficient for home users.
The Dell 3110cn is a honkin' big printer, owing to the fact that it's a color laser (the four individual toner cartridges take up a lot of space). The black-and-silver unit stands 15.8 inches wide, 19.1 inches deep, and 18.5 inches tall and weighs a hefty 53 pounds. It has two input sources: the 250-sheet tray and a 150-sheet multipurpose tray. The multipurpose tray engages when you pull down the front panel of the printer, with the panel serving as the paper support, so the printer takes up even more room in this setup. You can purchase an optional 550-sheet drawer ($230) for a total input of 950 sheets. The output tray sits atop the printer and holds 250 sheets. This model also offers an optional duplexer, but that adds an additional $200 to the price. The top-mounted control panel is basic, comprising a two-line, backlit text LCD; a Menu button; menu navigation buttons; and a Cancel button.
The Dell 3110cn ships with a 400MHz processor and 128MB of RAM, upgradable to up to 1,152MB. It comes standard with a 10/100 Ethernet port (for network printing), a USB port, and a parallel port. If you need to print wirelessly, the optional wireless adapter will set you back $150.
Print costs for the Dell 3110cn are reasonable. It ships with a 5,000-page black cartridge and 4,000-page color cartridges. Replacement cartridges come in regular and high-yield options; the high-yield options are generally more cost effective. The 5,000-page black cartridge costs $76, and the 8,000-page version costs $110. Each 4,000-page color cartridge (cyan, magenta, and yellow) costs $120, while the 8,000-page versions cost $215 each. Using the high-yield cartridges, per-page costs are roughly 1.4 cents for black prints and 9.4 cents for color prints. Both numbers are at the low end for color lasers in this range. Because Dell sells its products only through its own site and stores, you'll have to order replacement supplies directly--less convenient than a quick trip down to your local Staples. If you've set up your printer on the network, it can keep you updated on the levels of toner left and remind you to order replacement toner or even do it automatically for you.
The Dell 3110cn was one of the fastest color laser printers we've seen when handling mono prints, but it didn't impress us with the speed of its color prints. It churned out black text at a speedy 23.36ppm and mono graphics at an impressive 22.58ppm. The next fastest performer we've seen in this category is the Oki C5500n, which posted 17.92ppm for black text and 18.41ppm for mono graphics. With color prints, the Dell fell behind the Lexmark C530dn, with a score of 12.41ppm for color text and 13.30ppm for color graphics. The Lexmark posted times of 15.94ppm and 13.56ppm respectively. The combination of fast mono prints and slow color prints would be fine if you mainly print in mono and want to have the option of the occasional color print.