The Dell V715w All-in-One Wireless Printer offers the standard array of print, fax, scan, and copy features with a useful 50-sheet autodocument feeder and an Eco Mode button that encourages you to cut down on consumables. Out of the box, the V715w shows physical flaws and a bulky design with frustrations that include frequent paper jams, unreliable wireless connectivity, and expensive ink cartridges. Placed next to the full-featured Lexmark Prevail Pro705, which flaunts a much easier installation process, top-tier image output quality, and a five-year warranty, we see little reason to recommend the Dell V715w.
Design and features
At 19.2 inches wide, 16.1 inches deep, and 9.9 inches tall, the Dell V715w will take command of your workspace, so make sure you have room for the device before running out to make a purchase. You likely won't move the V715w once you situate it in your work area. The hefty printer weighs 21 pounds, just 1 pound less than the Epson WorkForce 840, a $300 printer that can hold up to 500 sheets of paper in its dual paper input trays. The V715w tops out at 200 sheets total: 150 in the standard input tray and another 50 sheets in the ADF.
The V715w doesn't feature a typical tiny two-line LCD display. Instead, you get a 2.4-inch color LCD that lets you preview imported photos from the accompanying computer, and you can also access files through the media card reader and PictBridge USB port on the lower-right side of the machine. Shortcut buttons surround the display on three sides, and there's also the standard array of buttons including a directional pad for scrolling through menus and a number pad for dialing numbers on the fax side.
The first problem we have with the V715w's design is the control panel that sticks out of the middle of the unit. Prior to installing the driver, Dell instructed us to position a clear strip of plastic on top of the panel that adds text labels to the Copy, Scan, Fax, and Photo buttons. We're unsure why those labels weren't already printed there as on the rest of the buttons, but the extra layer and the cheap plastic finish take away from the otherwise streamlined design.
The flatbed scanner lives just underneath the V715w's autodocument feeder and can handle up to 1,200x2,400-dpi resolution, another feature we normally see on multifunction devices. However, Dell deserves recognition for including a copy of ABBYY FineReader Sprint on the included driver installation disc that provides basic optical character recognition (OCR) and will do its best to "read" and import the text of a scanned document into a word processor of your choosing, typically Microsoft Word. In our testing, the software was fairly accurate, although we definitely suggest you check for inaccuracies after the scan completes. Additionally, be sure to hold onto the driver installation disc, as ABBYY FineReader Sprint isn't available for download on Dell.com.
We also like that Dell includes an Eco Mode button marked with a green leaf on the right side of the control panel that triggers two-sided printing, copying, and faxing using the duplexer on the back. The button dims the LCD if you leave the printer dormant for an extended period, and the printer has an Energy Star certification. We welcome those green-minded touches, but Lexmark goes a step further and in addition to these features saves you money by bundling XL-capacity black and color cartridges in the box. To our knowledge, Lexmark is the only printer vendor to do this, and we hope Dell and others will consider adding this incentive in the future.
The V715w uses four individual ink cartridges for black, magenta, cyan, and yellow colors. Dell also sells high-capacity ink cartridges on the company's Web site, but the page yield numbers are no longer listed on the site so we can't accurately calculate the cost per page. We can tell you that the standard cartridge didn't even last long enough for us to finish our quality and speed test, and the customer complaints on our own CNET user reviews as well as the Amazon purchase page echo our experience.
Like many modern all-in-one printers, the Dell includes an 802.11b/g wireless card that's supposed to help you cut the cord and free up USB ports you might otherwise use for connecting to the host computer. The wireless installation disc that comes in the bundle does an adequate job of walking you through the Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) using your wireless router's SSID and WPA password, but our connection kept giving us an error message that said "Cannot Print over a Wireless Network," despite the green notification light that supposedly indicates a solid connection.Performance
The Dell V715w registered average scores in our speed tests, in which we compared it with four other printers. That's not to say it isn't fast enough to keep up with the output of a small to midsize office. In fact, it did fine in the text speed and presentation speed tests, just edging out the Canon Pixma MG6120 for second place behind the quick-printing HP Photosmart Premium e-All-in-One C310a.