Dell B2360d review

The Dell B2360d delivers unusually heavy-duty capability in a personal monochrome laser printer.
Photo of Dell B2360d

Although the Dell B2360d is best thought of as a personal mono laser printer, thanks to having a USB port as its only connector, it offers a level of capability you’d expect in a shared printer for a small office or workgroup. It is, in short, a potentially good choice if you need a printer for unusually heavy-duty use by personal printer standards. That’s a little too narrow a niche to make it an Editors’ Choice, but if that’s the niche you’re looking to fill, it promises to be a good fit.

The B2360d is directly competitive, for personal printer use at least, with the Editors’ Choice Brother HL-6180DW. It lacks the network support that makes the Brother HL-6180DW far better for sharing, but if you’re planning to connect by USB cable, there’s no point in paying extra for Ethernet and Wi-Fi. There are other differences too, with the Brother HL-6180DW offering a higher paper capacity (at 550 sheets standard and 1,050 sheets maximum) and the B2360d offering faster speed on our tests, but the differences add up to making the two well-matched overall.

Basics
Although the B2360d doesn’t offer as high a paper capacity as the Brother HL-6180DW, its paper handling is suitable for a micro or small office, which makes it more than ample for heavy-duty personal printer use. In addition to a 250-sheet drawer and 50-sheet multi-purpose tray, for a total 300-sheet capacity, it includes a duplexer (for automatic two-sided printing) as standard. If you need more input capacity, you can get an optional 550-sheet tray ($239.99 direct for the standard version or $284.99 for a lockable version) for a maximum total of 850 sheets.

As is typical for a printer with this level of paper handling, the B2360d is relatively big, weighing a hefty 31.1 pounds. However, it measures only 10.3 by 15.7 by 15 inches (HWD), giving it a smaller footprint than many inkjets. Even if you’d rather not have it sitting on your desk, you shouldn’t have a problem finding room for it nearby. Setting it up and installing the drivers on a Windows Vista system for my tests was standard fare.

Speed and Output Quality
Dell rates the B2360d at 40 pages per minute (ppm), which is a touch slower than Brother’s rating for the HL-6180DW. On our tests, however, the Dell printer was convincingly faster. I timed it on our business applications suite (using QualityLogic’s hardware and software for timing), at an effective 14.8 ppm compared with just 10.7 ppm for the HL-6180W. It’s also significantly faster than most other printers in its price range, although the slightly more expensive Canon imageClass LBP6300dn is statistically tied with it, at 14.5 ppm.

Output quality for the B2360d is a touch below par overall, but easily good enough for most business needs. Text quality is a step below the low end of the range where most mono lasers fall, but unless you have an unusual need for small fonts you shouldn’t have any complaints about it.

Graphics output is absolutely par for a mono laser. Depending on how much of a perfectionist you are, you may or may not consider it good enough for handing out to important clients or customers when you want to convey a sense of professionalism. It’s certainly good enough for any internal business use. Photos are a bit below par for a mono laser. Although the photo quality is good enough to print recognizable images from photos on Web pages, I wouldn’t recommend using the printer for, say, a client newsletter with photos.

Other Issues
One other plus for the B2360d is a relatively low running cost, at 2.0 cents per page. That’s a touch more than the 1.8 cents per page that Brother claims for the HL-6180DW. But with a 0.2 cent difference per page, you’d have to print 20,000 pages to make up the $40 difference in initial cost between the two. For printing anything less than 20,000 pages over the printer’s lifetime, you’ll still save money with the B2360d.

If your print needs are heavy duty enough to justify getting the Dell B2360d, you should obviously be taking a look at the Brother HL-6180DW as well. And if need to share a printer on a network, need the Brother printer’s greater paper capacity, or expect to print enough pages to save money in the long run from the Brother printer’s lower running cost, the HL-6180DW may be your preferred choice. If none of those issues applies, however, the Dell B2360d will probably be the better fit, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that it offers faster speed and a lower initial cost.

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Specifications
Print Duplexing Automatic
Printer Category Laser
Direct Printing from Cameras No
Rated Speed at Default Settings (Mono) 40 ppm
Maximum Standard Paper Size Legal
Color or Monochrome Monochrome
Technology (for laser category only) Laser
Connection Type USB

Verdict
The Dell B2360d's lack of network support makes it a personal monochrome printer, but with speed and paper handling that would be suitable for heavy-duty printing in a micro or small office.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc